Reading Life of Pi, again


It is a pleasure to say that Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, is one of the few books from a living author that I both enjoyed as entertainment and valued artistically in over a decade.  I am grateful that it was published.  Too often when I walk into a bookstore the fiction tables are full of reprinted classics from dead writers.

It is a good piece of Canadian literature that won its many accolades with humour always at its side.  The truth is, in the aftermath of my English Literature studies, if we are telling stories about humans and it’s not funny in a weird and dark sort of way then my faith in its validity will likely not rise.

I remember warning a friend, who was (is?) an atheist that this book professed to make one believe in God.  She advised me frankly that she had already read the book and though she remained immune, still enjoyed the tale.  The book’s treatment of religion, faith and the literary imagination is athletically academic, really getting the hands, feet and whole body fully immersed in a playground of ideas, twisted and celebrated by the youth and innocence of a boy who just wants to love God and in this ‘… attracting religions the way a dog attracts fleas.’

Quote from Life of Pi, by Yann Martel:

“I’ll be honest about it.  It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics.  Doubt is useful for a while … But we must move on.  To doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

Currently, I am letting my partner read this novel to me.  I didn’t want us to see the film version until he had read the book.  As wonderful as the reviews have been, I already know that the film does not look anything like it did in my mind when I first read it.  I am certain it does not look like it did in yours either, if you read the book prior to seeing the film.  I want this story to look, first, like no other in his mind as well.  Thus is the magic of literature.

I am even particular about the book cover.  I would rather have the older illustrated copy of this book than the reprinted version depicting the film.  Let all book covers be illustrations and leave some part of the space to the reader’s imagination.  Again, as beautiful as the film must be, it cannot compare to the unfolding time, place and happenings that are evoked when we follow the trail of flat, black ink across the off-white pages.


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