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!