"Life of Pi" -- ***spoilers***

Finished Yann Martel’s Life of Pi yesterday, having devoted a chunk of my weekend to doing so. What a wonderful book! I’m still mulling over the ending, and really am not sure what I think of it.

Spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t finished reading the book yet, stop now reading this thread right now, go away and finish the book, and then come back.

The way Martel framed the story, with the long introductory section, drew me right in. The switching back and forth between the “novelist’s” first-person description of hearing the story and Pi’s account of his early life was wonderfully well done – total, immediate suspension of disbelief. (In fact, about 20 pages in, I really did have a “oh, wait, right, this is a novel” moment when I put it down.) That long section of Pi’s boyhood not only sets up the story in terms of explaining how he might end up in a boat with a tiger, but why he’d be in a position to handle the situation when he did.

I really was totally along for the ride (so to speak) most of the way through. I didn’t have a real “wtf” moment until the two days of blindness when he kills the guy with the French accent. And then the whole interlude on the carniverous island with the meerkats – yikes. So my disbelief is getting very, very shaky.

Yet Martel’s control of the material is such that I have to think he did it on purpose, to set us up for the encounter with the two Japanese guys at the end. Which was so wonderfully presented – the back and forth between the real comedy of the comments the two of them are making to each other and the poignancy of Pi’s final revelation. Poignancy? Not a strong enough word – it was totally hearbreaking.

What an amazing book!

Yeah! I read this book last month for my book club. I really enjoyed it and we really had a great discussion. It was interesting to see who (in our book club) believed which version of the story, and why. We also had some interesting discussion about the religious aspects of the story.

When I was young, I read everything that Gerald Durrell (a naturalist) ever wrote and so I, too, was taken in right from the very beginning of this - the whole beginning with all the zoology info. almost read like a non-fiction memoir.

The floating island and encounter with the French man were almost jarringly out of place, I thought. I’m still not sure what Martel’s intentions were here.

But yeah, what a good book. It was my turn to choose (whoever hosts the club chooses the book) and I chose this specifically because I was so intrigued with the premise - I mean, c’mon - a whole book about a young man and a tiger in a lifeboat??? But I also knew that I’d never read it myself if it wasn’t a book-club book. I’m so glad I DID choose it.

I agree. And I couldn’t have gone into it more skeptical.

All the ladies in the neighborhood had read it and it was a big book club book, and I thought that at best it was going to be hokey and sappy.

I was totally sucked in. Totally “had” by the metaphor.

But it’s clearly bigger than that. It was sincere and honest, while enthralling. The most memorable book I’ve read in years.

The childhood scenes were by far my favorite portion of the book (especially his Hindu/Christian/Muslim phase and the argument among the holy men). I thought it was a very clever book, but I admit I felt let down by its credo quia consolans ending.

I picked up Life of PI at the library about two months ago at about 6 pm on a Friday, and was done with it by 7 the next morning. Terrific book. I’ve chosen to ignore the ending, since in my opinion if it didn’t really happen as described it’s a complete waste of a great story.

The question I’m mulling over is “what does ‘really happen’ mean in the context of this story?” It seems as though as far as Pi is concerned – and who better to decide? – the story as told throughout the main book is what “really” happened.

The thing I’m having a hard time fitting into either version is the whole interlude on the carnivorous island – :confused:

(Sampiro – I’m at work, and actually supposed to be doing things – I’ll read your link carefully tonight – looks interesting!)

The ending was problematic for me not by its nature, but because it felt horribly rushed. The author spent a long time weaving his elaborate tapestry, and then when it came time for the alternate account of Pi’s experiences, it just felt like he said “Oops – 20 pages to go, I’d better wrap this up”. I expect that was done to leave doubt in the reader’s mind, but I thought it was very sloppily executed.

That wasn’t a problem for me – it seemed very much how Pi would have told it – “Fine, you want another version? Here’s another version” – but he wouldn’t want to dwell on any of it, he would try to get through the telling of it as quickly as possible.

This is what I had to say in an earlier thread on the book.

I actually learned a lot about animals from this book as well, incidentally- I didn’t realize, for example, how dangerous ostriches are, and the book made a great case for the humanity of natural habitat zoos.

The book was loaned to me by a friend. I am an engineer kind of guy, and was initially disappointed to learn it wasn’t actually about Pi, the number. However, I think it is a tremendous book.

I just don’t get existential literature. Think Pablo Neruda.

Several days later, and I’m still mulling this all over. Sampiro – I wasn’t sure what to make of your link. If you were just giving a definition of credo quia consolans, okay – if you see additional significance to what she was talking about, I need you to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. (There’s a kind of writing about spirituality that makes my eyeballs spin in opposite directions – and that was an example of it, so I was unable to read it very carefully.)

Alan_Smithee – whoa, no wonder you reacted so strongly when I mentioned I was reading this! I’m not sure I would take it as proof of the nonexistence of God – but when you’re at that point, the exact book that crystallizes things might well be about something else all together. (I still remember with perfect clarity the moment about 30 years ago when I was reading Seven Story Mountain as a religious studies undergrad, looked out the library window at the gorgeous view of the Santa Ynez Mountains, and thought “What a crock.”) I don’t want to go totally OT here – we can discuss elsewhere.

Sorry- I should have specified- that’s what I was doing. (To be honest I didn’t even read the page beyond the cqs definition.)

My eyebrows went up when I saw the repeated phrase “a story to make you believe in god,” but if that didn’t take me out of the story… I mean, it didn’t make me, but it IS that good. :stuck_out_tongue:

I just finished reading this. The “story to make you believe in God” had me a little skeptical too. Maybe I’m just dense but I didn’t come out any more of a believer. I certainly read some very interesting things that gave me pause to think but I didn’t have any major revelations. However it was still very interesting. I thought it was a little slow at first but once we got to the lifeboat I couldn’t put it down. I was a bit disappointed at the end, certainly the alternate story make more sense but the story with the animals is much more interesting.

As I was reading the book I saw a potential for a very interesting film but I did a search in the book and learned that M. Night Shaymalan (sp?) has the movie rights to this so there goes that potential.