Mark's Reviews > Beatrice and Virgil

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 12, 2010

did not like it

I think this book now holds the dubious honor of the worst book I have ever finished. It's derivative, dull & pretentious. The story within the story-a play featuring Beatrice and Virgil, a monkey and donkey walking across a striped shirt-is a cheap ripoff of Waiting for Godot. There are other plot points involving the narrator Henry's pets that seem to come from nowhere and lead nowhere. Finally, the book ends with a series of philosophical questions that strive to be profound, but remind me of nothing more than Homer Simpson's musing on whether Jesus could microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it.

I loved Life of Pi, but I can't imagine ever reading Yann Martel again after this.
34 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Beatrice and Virgil.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

July 12, 2010 – Started Reading
July 12, 2010 – Shelved
July 13, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Melinda (last edited Jul 14, 2010 12:38AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Melinda Finally, the book ends with a series of philosophical questions that strive to profound, but remind me of nothing more than Homer Simpson's musing on whether Jesus could microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it.

Hands down... this is the FUNNIEST comment I have read about this dreadful "book".

Great review! I hope other people see it!

message 2: by Mark (new) - rated it 1 star

Mark Thank you. This book allowed me to tap into my snarky side.

Melinda I would say that is the ONLY thing this book is good for. That, and throwing out a window.

message 4: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle My snarky side totally agrees - I loathed the book, it is pretentious, self-indulgent and self referential. It is twee, boring and disgustingly, lovingly (on the author's part) violent. I do not understand how it could have won the Booker. Out the window for sure.

Melinda It DID not win the Booker!!!!!!! Life of Pi won the Booker. I think the only thing Beatrice and Virgil could win is being the toilet paper at the Booker Prize Convention (if there even is one)..but that may still be too high an honor for it.

message 6: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle You are right, of course. The cunning cover says
"Yann Martel
Winner of the Booker Prize" - then way down at the bottom
"Beatrice and Virgil". A tricky promotion of a the dreadful book. Thanks for reminding me - it was "The Life of Pi" which won the booker, I read it some years ago and enjoyed it. I am thinking that this one only got published because it was by a, previous, Booker winner. Absolutely frightful stuff!

Melinda Well... the story is just a little bit worse than all of that. The Booker comes with a (nearly) 3 million dollar purse. And when it was announced that it was shortlisted, Martel was offered 6 million for his next book that took him how many years to write? I think he just had to get something out there to stay within his contract. Yeah... I agree with the cover, but it is a big prize and of course they are gong to use it! It is the worse book that I ever finished... and I did finish it because 3 days after it was released Martel was coming to Seattle to talk about the book and do signings. But people either didn't want to read B&V yet, or didn't have time, because there were very few audience member questions about it. People wanted to know about Pi and express their gratitude for Pi and wanted to know about the Steven Harper (Canadian's Prime Minister who came out and said he had never read a book) so Martel started sending him a book a month. I think I was maybe one out of 10 people who had finished B&V and it was so awful that when I went to get my 1st edition Color Plate version of Pi signed he was all like "Oh! You have one of these. Did you like it?" But I just wanted him to sign it an get his filthy paws off of it. He smeared his signature...and then joked that "Well, no one will have one just exactly like that" and I was all thanks for ruining my treasure. I will NEVER read him again... and his next book is going to be about 3 monkeys in a zoo. But you won't catch me reading it. And he did say that Pi has been optioned for a film... too bad. I just don't see how it could be good. Maybe if Ang Lee directed it...

message 8: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle I certainly shan't be reading about the three monkeys or any of his books again either. I like your story about the smeared signature.

Melinda He has lost me forever as a reader, too. It's sad because Pi is so special, but then I learned that it was plagiarized from a South American writer...don't remember his name, but the book is called Max and the Cats. If you go to my original review of B&V, it is somewhere there in the comments.

message 10: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle Yes, I know about Max and the Cats. I actually have a copy of it here somewhere but can't find it just now. This is because our house is rather full of books shelved in a somewhat erratic system.

Melinda my house would look like that, except I only keep about 1% of every book I read... It has to be really special or it goes to the used book store. Sometimes it's a bad system because I need to buy a book twice, but we have a few excellent used book stores here.. Most people have never heard of Max and the my hat is off to you!

message 12: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle My whole family are voracious readers and mostly want to keep a book which they have enjoyed. For me seeing my favourites on the shelves is like seeing old friends - when I see their spines the pleasure I had reading them is renewed. We do cull every so often and give the books to our church fete.

message 13: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle I found it! It is by Moacyr Scliar, there is a chapter called "The Jaguar in the Dinghy" to which, I think the Life of Pi owes a very large debt.

Melinda I wish I could keep my books, too and I did for years... but a flood taught me that they are just things. If I had the room, believe me I would keep them. I think that Martel owes more than one nod to Scilar... wasn't the 3rd story in Max and the Cats about a shadowy figure who might or might not have been a Nazi, (B&G) or was that the reason he left his country? But I know there is a Nazi reference in there somewhere.

back to top