Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Darrel Manson

Life of Pi

Recommended Posts

Anyone else read about this Hindu-Christian-Muslim and his lifeboat ordeal. I really liked this book. Wonderfully imaginative and a great twist (or at least maybe there's a twist -- you really don't know) at the end. Certainly Shyamalan would be a wonderful director for a film version (although I don't think Philadelphia will be a good setting.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the recommendation, Darrel. I'd been ignoring the advertisements for this book, because I assumed it was math-related (silly me...). But now, having seen your positive commentary and the glowing reviews at Amazon, this is one I'll be looking for at the library.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also loved this book. Great story and storytelling. I was a little bit frustrated by the ambiguous spirituality that it embraced, but I definitely appove of the arguement this book makes against skeptisism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Currently halfway through reading Life Of Pi. So far I like it.

Interesting note: Yan Martel is the writer in residence here at the Saskatoon Public Library.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished this book this weekend and really liked it. It provided some great discussions with fellow staff members at a retreat this weekend.

Although I grew tiresome of the "all religions are similar and good" theme of the first part, I was sold on the book by the end. I think it's an excellent metaphor on the quest for understanding and relating to God. It also made me realize that while faith in Jesus at times seems very unprobable and hard to believe, the incarnate Jesus actually lived and died and was raised from the dead and just because it is improbable doens't mean it's impossible. There will be some people who will find the story of Jesus improbable and as a result will never believe and there are others will find the story of Jesus improbable and yet will believe, much like how I found the story of Pi on a lifeboat at sea with a tiger to be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I grew tiresome of the "all religions are similar and good" theme of the first part, I was sold on the book by the end.  I think it's an excellent metaphor on the quest for understanding and relating to God. 

mild spoilers1.gif

I took away the exact opposite from the book--I read it as an apology for the "all religions are similar and good" because all religions are created by their adherents in order to bring comfort in a dark, dangerous, and nihilistic world. Pi states that his story will make you believe in God--but that's not the case. His story is that reality is better handled by a comforting myth, terrible and fearsome as it may be, than by the self-devouring experience of living life in the open, naked to the sky and sea. Faith is preferred to sight (in Pi's universe) because of what you actually see.

Perhaps I'm being too cynical? I agree, though, the storytelling was topnotch. Just felt Martel pulled the rug out from under my feet at the end of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mild  spoilers1.gif

Pi states that his story will make you believe in God--but that's not the case.  His story is that reality is better handled by a comforting myth, terrible and fearsome as it may be, than by the self-devouring experience of living life in the open, naked to the sky and sea.  Faith is preferred to sight (in Pi's universe) because of what you actually see.

Perhaps I'm being too cynical?  I agree, though, the storytelling was topnotch.  Just felt Martel pulled the rug out from under my feet at the end of it.

I don't think you are being too cynical at all. I think it really comes down to what ending you believe is true.

spoilers1.gif

If you believe that Pi was at sea with his mother, a Frenchman, and a crippled man then it would be very realistic to construe that faith in your diety of choice is nothing more than a self-soothing myth to make life seem more tolerable. There is nothing overly cynical about believing that this is the thrust of the book. But, I think the journey with the animals is the true history in the book. The idea that one boy could survive at sea with one hungry tiger is very improbable, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. A virgin birth is very improbable but I believe that, in history, it happened. Continuing the theme that the book is a metaphor for faith, I believe that the island Pi landed on was a temptation to take a shortcut into real living. Obviously, the life on the boat was no life at all, but the island held promise. He wrongly believed that he could live there forever. He would have fresh water, food, and shade. He later learned that the island would eat him alive. He could only truly live on the mainland. I take this as being similar to Jesus imploring us to know that real life can only be found in him. If Jesus is the mainland where real living can only take place, the island is the shortcuts (in whatever form they might be) to the type of living that Jesus calls humans to live. Too many people choose to live on the island when the mainland is close at hand.

Hopefully more people will continue to chime in as I'm interested in hearing what people have to say. I found the book to be very fascinating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read it about a year ago, love it. Don't really remember enough to comment on it intelligently except that I loved the different places the author takes the reader. The third fourth of the book got a bit repetitive, but really a good read. From what I recall about our book club discussion (through my PCA church), we liked how it did play with the ideas about being sure of things vs. being willing to embrace the improbable, facts vs. truth, and sort of the question, "What makes a better story?" I seem to remember our discussion going somewhere like...let's say chaos and big bang is one story and divine creator/gospel is another...and if we can't be totally sure of either, which story would you rather live in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote=Sara Zarr,Aug 30 2005, 06:01 PM]

What makes a better story?" I seem to remember our discussion going somewhere like...let's say chaos and big bang is one story and divine creator/gospel is another...and if we can't be totally sure of either, which story would you rather live in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What makes a better story?"  I seem to remember our discussion going somewhere like...let's say chaos and big bang is one story and divine creator/gospel is another...and if we can't be totally sure of either, which story would you rather live in?

From a PBS interview with Martel:

RAY SUAREZ: In your introduction, you do give a tip of the hat to Scliar. [Edit:
Edited by solishu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you guys have done it. You've piqued my curiousity. I threw in the towel a few months ago, with the description of the Islamic art hanging in the apartment.

"OK," I thought (very cynically), "now you've covered Christians and Hindus, so why not throw in Muslims in an effort to reach the widest audience possible?" Pandering and offensive.

But reading about the ending makes me curious to know more. Maybe I'll give the book another shot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andersk4, maybe I'm not understanding what you're saying. How is

If reality is merely how we choose to interpret it, could it be possible that Pi, fed up with the unbelief of his interrogators, chose to then frame the account of his journey in a way they would be able to interpret it?
different than
That I could see the proposal he was making, but I didn't like his terms--that the interpretation is the a priori, not the event
?

I think (and its been cool to work this out) my main problem with Life of Pi is that it puts the interpretation of the event, not the event itself, in the driver's seat of "reality". While I agree that the interpretation is a key component of our interaction with events, I feel the events themselves are independent of our interpretation of them. But I think we're saying the same thing--but coming down on different sides of whether we're comfortable of where Martel draws the line.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Andersk4, maybe I'm not understanding what you're saying.  How is
If reality is merely how we choose to interpret it, could it be possible that Pi, fed up with the unbelief of his interrogators, chose to then frame the account of his journey in a way they would be able to interpret it?
different than
That I could see the proposal he was making, but I didn't like his terms--that the interpretation is the a priori, not the event
?

I think (and its been cool to work this out) my main problem with Life of Pi is that it puts the interpretation of the event, not the event itself, in the driver's seat of "reality". While I agree that the interpretation is a key component of our interaction with events, I feel the events themselves are independent of our interpretation of them. But I think we're saying the same thing--but coming down on different sides of whether we're comfortable of where Martel draws the line.

You're right, I think we are saying the same thing in different terms. I guess I'm reaching to understand alternate viewpoints. Which by the way, I totally understand where you and Sara are coming from. Upon reading the second ending I intially interpreted it to be the real event itself, but since have interpreted it to hold the first ending to be true. I'm finding it fascinating to find so many people come down on opposite sides of the fence. I'm having similar conversations with people that I've talked to as well.

And you're right, I think this might be a good book club discussion.

Christian: Happy you're sucked in. I'm glad you're giving it another try.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

QUOTE(andersk4 @ Aug 30 2005, 12:23 PM)

mild spoilers1.gif

I took away the exact opposite from the book--I read it as an apology for the "all religions are similar and good" because all religions are created by their adherents in order to bring comfort in a dark, dangerous, and nihilistic world. Pi states that his story will make you believe in God--but that's not the case. His story is that reality is better handled by a comforting myth, terrible and fearsome as it may be, than by the self-devouring experience of living life in the open, naked to the sky and sea. Faith is preferred to sight (in Pi's universe) because of what you actually see.

Perhaps I'm being too cynical? I agree, though, the storytelling was topnotch. Just felt Martel pulled the rug out from under my feet at the end of it.

Having seen the film (I never did read the book), I agree with this interpretation of the ending.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nailed it.

Wow. When I wrote the stuff above, I was not a dad. Now I have a seven year old and a four year old. FYI--four year olds who insist that they are not scared by the opening 5 minutes of Jackson's The Lord of the Rings are lying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have this book somewhere--bought it at the Festival of Faith and writing, what, four/five years ago? Yann Martel was at the festival and I heard him speak, whatever year that was. :) Maybe I should find it and read it, since there's a movie about it now. What's one more book on the stack beside my chair? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×