Joanna's Reviews > Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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's review
Sep 15, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: bookgroup, general-fiction, one-star-or-five-stars
Read in September, 2003

This book was so manipulative, I can't rank it or recommend it to anyone. Meanwhile I am very glad I read it. Every time I think about this book I get knotted up in conflicting feelings about it. Unbelievably believable, the story told by Yann Martel convinced me that this small boy was able to survive his perilous adventure. It is a masterful piece of writing and he deserves much praise for its construction as well as the magically realized descriptions that just drip off the page. I really felt like I was right there in the story.

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message 7: by Beth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Beth this is another one I have often passed up in the airport - I am not convinced though that I should read it now... you say you are glad you read it but that you can't recommend it to anyone?

Beth I finally read it - but I ended up skipping parts of it. Parts of it were wonderful, but overall I was left feeling disappointed. part of it is that it's just not my type of book. what was the bit about meeting the other blind sailor - that seemed so contrived, as did the island! but, the end bit helped me a bit (that the insurance people didn't believe him, either). I must say I liked the bits on classical conditioning very much.

Joanna I liked the way this book challenged my ability to believe. I started it, somewhat under protest (book group read it), insisting there is no way I can buy into a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat. Then I started reading, and very much enjoyed the first, calm, reasonable, section. This reassured me, it's not just a crazy adventure story, I thought to myself. I liked the father a lot. I liked thinking about the morality of zookeeping. Then the journey began, and the shipwreck, and it got so very vivid. I found myself believing. The blind guy, yes, weird. I didn't really mind. I felt completely swept up in the story and also liked the conditioning stuff very much. In the end, I felt betrayed when he said "believe whichever story you like." I was outraged. I was so mad. I felt like I had been tricked. I felt like the author was laughing at me. At our meeting it was all about "which story is the answer?" And I have to say---both stories are FICTION. There is no real answer. However, in my heart I believe in the people-populated lifeboat and wish to believe in the animal-populated one. I didn't want to write all that in my review because I feel like alluding to the ending--especially a trick ending like this one--is basically an Internet spoiler, and I am anti-spoiler in GoodReads. (I think of the reviews as book recommendations, and if I had known about the ending before reading Life of Pi it would have been a completely different experience.)

Beth that's an interesting perspective. silly me, it didn't occur to me that the people version was the real one. very interesting. I will read the ending again.

Joanna It was very interesting in the book group meeting because we got a little heated. We came in with different opinions, which doesn't happen to us often. It was surprising to all of us.

Beth I re-read the ending over the break. I actually like it better now...

Joanna I am finding the ending grows on me. I actually thought of you when I first finished it, wondering how conceivable a coping mechanism animalizing the people who experienced such trama would be. At first I was so mad at feeling tricked that I couldn't appreciate it, but really it's amazing the way Martel paints the story and then pulls off the slipcovered canvas to reveal a story behind the story. And then to inspire such debate. It's a cool little book.

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