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Life of Pi
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message 1: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
A discussion thread for our August BoM. Spoilers are permitted.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Ok, I read the first 10 chapters and am not yet impressed.

Not sure if I am supposed to use spoiler tags but to be on the safe side I will use them.

(view spoiler)

Nothing much has happened as yet so that are my thoughts at the moment. Let's see what happens tomorrow.

message 3: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
I'll hopefully start reading soon and will state which chapters I'm reading :)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Ok, no rush. I thought we started today so I started reading. :)

Lauren Smith Argh, so tempted to read what's hidden by the spoiler tag. I'm glad you used it, because I didn't even want to read this post but couldn't resist.

I have to say my expectations aren't too high, after reading a Goodreads blurb where this was described as a book that will make you believe in God. Sounds more like a book that will make me roll my eyes.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
That is what it said in the preface too. It was almost enough for me to put it down again. But since it is on so many lists of books you have to read before you die I really want to give it a chance.

I am glad that the 10 chapters for tomorrow don't have that many pages. It will make it easier for me to read it. :)

Lauren Smith Lol, I already forgot about the schedule.

Mostly I want to read it because it's a book I want to know about, even if I don't really expect to like it.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I am glad that we picked a schedule (even if I am the only one keeping it) because I would have put it down already if we didn't.

I want to know what all the fuzz is about. If I had read just the blurb I don't think I would have ever picked it to buy and read. But since the whole world thinks it is a book you should read and that it is a great book, I want to see why.

message 9: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
My schedule has become a bit wonky for a bit so will hopefully catch up soon!

message 10: by Barbara (last edited Oct 03, 2012 12:07AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I read chapters 11-20 yesterday.

(view spoiler)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I read chapters 21-30 today, only 20 pages or so. I am still keeping to schedule so later on when the chapters contain more pages I can read fewer chapters a day.

(view spoiler)

karter | 13 comments great book,the ending takes the cake...

Liezel (liezkl) | 736 comments Finished chpt 20
(view spoiler)

Sharle (mizzkruger) | 110 comments I completely forgot about the schedule but am finally up to speed. I agree with Barbara that the first 20-odd chapters feel like an introduction. However, the pace is starting to pick up a bit.

Surprisingly, I like the take on religion so far. It's unbiased and not at all preachy. It's more one man embodying a utopia where different religions can peacefully co-exist. Not necessarily trying to make you believe in God, but rather wish that people were more tolerant of each other's beliefs.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Haven't read any futher yet today, will try to, but I don't feel much like reading today and then I rather read something that I like. :)
(view spoiler)

message 16: by Bian (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bian | 95 comments Finished the book a week ago. Didn't think much of it. Enjoyed the mixing of religions though.

Sharle (mizzkruger) | 110 comments Am I the only one annoyed by the author's incessant listing of items?

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
@ Sharle: I don't know where you are in the book, maybe you are ahead of me, but I don't have a problem with it so far.

I read chapters 31-50 yesterday and 51-60 today.

Finally things are moving along nicely. I just couldn't care less. Might be strange for someone who reads a lot of paranormal, fantasy and science fiction but I find it all highly unbelievable. I can't seem to connect with the main character and I suppose we should feel sorry for the predicament he is in, but I don't. I do feel for Richard Parker, but nor for Pi.
I did find some of the scenes a bit more graphic than really necessary, but that could be just me and my animal lovers heart.

Sharle (mizzkruger) | 110 comments @Barbara: I'm also up to chapter 60 now. Maybe I'm just nitpicking because this book isn't really gripping me. I don't like leaving a book unfinished though, so I'll see it through.

message 20: by Barbara (last edited Oct 06, 2012 02:53PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Don't worry, he is listing stuff a lot, but it isn't bothering me but that is because the story isn't gripping me. I can understand why you are getting annoyed. It would have annoyed me too if I was more interested. It annoyed the hell out of me in Moby Dick. I really wanted to like that book and all he did was list stuff.
I too always finish a book. If I hadn't that philosophy I would have dropped this book by now, but I will finsih it. Although I might change the schedule a bit because the last 10 chapter are 70-80 pages and that is a bit much.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Over the last couple of days I have been reading this book and I have just finished it since I just wanted to be done with it. I can't understand what is so great about this book. I haven't found God because of it and I can't see how I would have done that and what part of the story would have been the catalyst for me finding religion.

(view spoiler)

Sharle (mizzkruger) | 110 comments I managed to finish this, put it back on my bookshelf, scratched it off my TBR list and will undoubtedly never pick it up again.

I didn't like some of the author's choices writing-wise and found the story dull. I don't know if it was just my copy but 2 full pages of blurbs before I even reached the author's note should have warned me (I tend not to like novels that actual literary critics tout as must read)

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the final chapter; probably because I favour stories that leave the interpretation up to the reader, but more likely because it was the final chapter!

That being said, I still enjoyed the take on religion; not so much the author trying to sell me on it at the end, though. And for the record, I prefer the story without the animals. It's very Lord of the Flies and a much more interesting story.

message 23: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
Just started this :)

Lauren Smith First impressions:

- Self-indulgent intro reads like a bad omen of things to come

- This is such kak.

- Then again, I guess this is how religious people must feel when atheists and agnostics talk about religion.

- It's still kak though. He doesn't understand either atheism or agnosticism.

- Apparently this is not a novel but an introduction to zoo-keeping followed by the biography of a man who just really loves religions.

- I am more or less indifferent to the existence of God, and unless he actually exists and gives me a lobotomy, this book is not going to change my mind at all. I feel like it's written specifically for religious people, and Pi is inspired by all the things that make me distrust religion.

- Finally, a plot!

Not sure where I am now, as my eBook was converted from a pdf to an azw file, and the chapter numbers have disappeared. I started counting when the chapters reached double digits, but later I lost count. Probably near chapter 30. The boat has just sunk. I started to wonder if the chapter divisions were mixed up too, because the book has so many short chapters that end in arbitrary spots.

The writing is easy to read, but it reads a bit like an inspirational text.

message 25: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
I am actually enjoying this. I find religion fascinating (although I have no religion) and I find it infuriating that people are telling him he can't be a muslin/christian/hindu. Why not? If believing in god in all the different forms gives him peace then I say go for it!

I don't feel that this book is trying to convert me to anything and so far I just find it entertaining in a strange way.

-I am where he just got his prayer rug-

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
@ Lauren: Part 2 named the Pacific Ocean starts with Chapter 37 and that starts with the sentence: The boat sank.
So if the boat sank you're nearer to chapter 40. :)

I am interested in religion and I am very open to the idea of worshipping in several religions at a time because there are a lot of similarities and I don't think a loving God would mind and if a God is not loving I wouldn't want to worship him/her/them anyway. However the talking about religion is so simplistic and leaves several dominant ones out.

The beginning does feel like an introduction into something that doesn't quite shines trhough later on. But maybe I have just missed something major.

I am glad you two are reading the book so I can find out what you think and compare them to my own thoughts.

Lauren Smith @Barbara: I'm concerned. I searched my file for the sentence "The boat sank" and got nothing. But the boat is definitely sinking and someone just put Pi in a life vest and tossed him overboard.

@Lu, Barbara: I'm interested in religion too, as a popular system of ethics that influences a lot of cultural practices. I like to study religion, as mythology and as literature. What I dislike about this book, or more specifically, what I dislike about Pi, is that to me he seems to be falling for every promise religion makes, and luxuriating in every comfort it offers as if all those assurances mean that religions must be true. And it's not just of one religion, but several. He also views each of them in the most glowing light and then sneers at agnostics and atheists as complete blind idiots who are "in the thrall of reason". Nevermind that he is in the thrall of religion and his idea of god.

I was annoyed with his statement that atheists, like believers, make a "leap of faith". In the atheist's case, the leap of faith is (I assume) their conviction that god does not exist. What the hell? That's not a leap of faith. It's a leap to believe in something without proof, but not to refuse to believe in something without proof that it exists, or sufficient reason that it might.

Similarly, his criticism of agnostics and "doubt as a philosophy of life". It's not so much a philosophy of life as just admitting that you don't know certain things and then getting on with your life. It's discomforting to admit to ignorance, but more humble than making "a leap of faith" and declaring your belief to be the truth.

In general, I find Pi to be quite arrogant. I mean, he compares himself to the prophet Mohammed because kids called him names at school! Seriously?!

To an extent, I admire the way he embraces multiple religions - the world could certainly use more of that kind of tolerance! But Pi's critics are right in that these religions condemn each other. It's in the scripture.

In that way, he's not a 'true' Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, in that he doesn't embrace some of their fundamental beliefs. He's sort of making his own religion based on the fact that he is in love with god and wants to worship him as much as he can. He also seems to be selecting the nicest part of each religion. And you raise a good point Barbara - he's leaving some major religions out. Why?

I'm glad that the novel is at least easy to read. I got through about a quarter of it on the plane.

message 28: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod

For some reason I can accept what he believes and condemns. It isn't that I believe at all what he does, but it is who he is, and I have no problem with it. I don't agree with him as a character, but like reading about him.

If that makes sense?

Will have to see how the rest of the book goes, I'm only at the beginning :)

Lauren Smith It makes sense :) I accept Pi as a character. I'm not a reader who is easily offended, because I don't take a characters words or behaviour to heart. But it does affect my opinion of the character and the book, and I think Pi is a bit of a twit, or rather, an asshole. He's not a bad guy per se (he's not abusive, violent, a cheat, etc.) but I find him to be arrogant, condescending and stupidly optimistic. And because his perspective dominates the book, I feel more or less the same way about it as a whole.

That said, I'm not bored (although there were a few really boring bits!), and this book is satisfying my curiosity about all the hype.

I was telling Yaseen about it, and he was very surprised. I think the usual impression of this book is that it's about a boy stranded on a raft with a tiger.

message 30: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
Yea that is what most people think, even I though so. Interested to get to the tiger part lol

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
@ Lauren: Sorry I misquoted. It was The ship sank. :)
The throwing overboard happens at the end of chapter 38.

What I also found anooying about the religion is the lack of interest his parents are taking in it. I mean if I had a child that suddenly turned to religion and apparently can't choose between 3 different religions I would talk with the child and study the religions and find out why he is so drawn to it. Ok they go with him to his baptism and stuff but they don't really take an interest. What I wondered too is why did he get baptised but not circumcised? I know it is not law or obligatory in Islam but it is something most muslim men have undergone.

The book satisfied my curiosity about the hype too but only because I know now what the book is about. I still don't understand the hype.

I knew very little about the book before I started. I try not to know these things because they create expectations. And people who tell you about the books or reviews are always coloured and may leave out stuff that I find interesting.

Lauren Smith Ah, ok!

Hmm, good point about his parents. His mother reads all the time; she could read up about at least one of the religions. His father seems very busy, but he could Pi about his interests.

message 33: by Liezel (last edited Oct 18, 2012 12:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liezel (liezkl) | 736 comments Finished the book and I agree with Barbara, dont know what the hype is about and I certainly dont see how this book will make you believe in God. It touches on various religions as Pi is introduced to them, but it's at a very basic level.

I have a friend that does the same thing as Pi, she is a hindu but embraces aspects of other religions, and just as I dont understand how she can subscribe to different belief systems, I feel the same about Pi. Maybe it's because I'm christian that I dont get it. To me, there are different religions for a reason, we dont all believe in the same thing. I can understand curiosity and tolerance, but following all of them....not too sure about that :)

Overall it was easy to read (with some boring bits) and it was different, but I found it a bit too unbelievable to really grab my interest.

@Barbara, I think the main reason that the other religions were excluded is that there wasn't any exposure to it in Tamil Nadu, from what I've been told it's mainly hinduism with a scattering of christians and muslims.
His parents probably just thought that it was a phase he was going through and that he would 'get over it' at some point. Also his father didn't seem that interested in religion, so it's understandable if he chose not to discuss it with Pi. It would probably have been more of an issue if his parents were practising hinduism.

Lauren Smith Sharle wrote: "Am I the only one annoyed by the author's incessant listing of items?"

No, you're not; it's driving me crazy! So, so boring. And mostly unnecessary, as far as I can tell. Do we really need to have a list of every single item in the lifeboat?

I'm at 69%. Don't know what chapter that is, but he's going on about the mental strain of being a castaway, how it's morally taxing, boring, etc.

At this point, I'm finding the book really tedious. I didn't agree with his opinions on religion, nor did I find them interesting or insightful, but it was at least easy to read, and I can understand how that can inspire some readers. But now the book has ceased to be an easy read, simply because it's so damn boring. I've read books with very slow plots, where the main character basically philosophises about life or some specific idea, and it's still a good read. The character/author offers some interesting ideas, something to think about. But Pi is just giving an overly detailed description of his time on the lifeboat and raft. Do we really need lists of the ways the sky and sea looks, the sounds tigers make, the positions Richard Parker likes to sleep in, etc.? It makes sense that Pi would be preoccupied with this, but do we need to hear about all of it?

I'm surprised that the religious aspects have almost completely disappeared, except for a few mentions. Isn't this the ideal time for Pi to reflect on religion?

@Barbara: I also thought there was more graphic detail than necessary. Particularly the bit where Pi wakes up to find that the butchered zebra is still alive. What does that add to the story?

Something else bugged me about Pi's attitude to animals. he says early on that he's "not given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals", but he seems to do it quite often. There's one bit, where he imagines the zoo as a hotel, and the animals as guests. Later he admits to anthropomorphising animals for his own amusement. What bugged me the most was how critical he was of the hyena on the lifeboat. He speaks about how ugly, ferocious and disgusting they are, and he hates the hyena for eating the zebra. But why should he judge the hyena by human standards? And as someone who grew up in a zoo, shouldn't he know better? I like hyenas, so maybe I'm biased here, but PI is also guilty of this elsewhere. He thinks the tiger is majestic and beautiful, so he's cool with co-habitation, but he admits that if he were stuck with an uglier animal, he might not be so companionable.

message 35: by Barbara (last edited Oct 20, 2012 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I did the math and 69% corresponds with chapter 70 in my book. That is if you're interested. :)

I guess religion is either the first or the last to go in a disaster. People will turn to or away from their gods trying to make sense of what is happening to them. Besides he hadn't found God for that long so maybe his faith wasn't that strong. I didn't mind his lack of religion. I did mind the way he is talking about everything.
The listing wasn't what was bothering me, because I can understand that when you're on a boat in the middle of the Pacific and you don't have much to do counting and listing stuff is something to do to pass the time. But I hate that is the way he tells his story. I understand it is his way and that it is difficult to keep track of the days (view spoiler). However I have read other shipwreck stories and other people have always found a way to tell a sort of chronological story and not tell the story by lists. That way it is a futile story. It is like telling my life story and telling you that there were sunny days and rainy and snowy and windy and cold and warm days and that there were birthdays and weddings and funerals and parties and days I stayed at home and that I went to school somedays and somedays I went to work and somedays there were holidays and on rare occasions I was sick. This is an accurate account of my life, because all those things happened but it tells you absolutely nothing about me. And that is what happens in this book.

The projecting of feelings on animals is something that didn't bother me so much, maybe the other things that bothered me more distracted me. I can tell you that this is one point that will make sense once you have finished the book.

message 36: by Lauren (last edited Oct 21, 2012 01:57AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lauren Smith Yes! That's exactly how I feel about the lists and the narrative. You can leave most of those details out. Pi could have just mentioned some definitive examples, so we know what it's like to survive on a lifeboat. Or he could weave in little details here and there while discussing something more interesting. I'm getting really tired of all the descriptions of him butchering animals.

I think I actually do mind that he stopped discussing religion. It's a major aspect of his character, but instead of it being developed during his most significant experience in the book, it gets relegated to casual mentions of him praying or thanking a god for good fortune. I didn't agree with Pi's opinions, but it's just bad storytelling to create a major theme and then abandon it for the majority of the book.

Lauren Smith I just watched the movie trailer. It gives me the kind of feeling that I think the book is meant to inspire. Also, the trailer doesn't hint at any of the brutality and boredom of the book. Looks like a beautiful movie.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I don't think I want to see the movie.

message 39: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
Yea the movie trailer does look awesome :)

Lauren Smith At 90%

Carnivorous island! So awesome. That was hands-down the most interesting thing in the book so far. Also, meerkats! Millions of meerkats! They are so adorable. Felt a bit bad that Richard Parker ate so many of them though.

Pity the island had such a small role. I can't shrug off the pleasing thought that it could have eaten Pi. Although, in that case, the tiger probably would have died too :(

"I took the knife and killed two meerkats and tried to soothe the pain with their blood and innards. Still my feet burned."
Fuck you Pi! Asshole. I can understand killing the meerkats for food, but killing them because your feet hurt?! What a jackass.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I liked the island too, but I didn't think it fit in the story. I love meerkats and I love the thought that there could be an island with millions on them. I hated what Pi did to the meerkats and I feel a bit sorry for them that they have to take to the trees at night.
Well if the Island ate Pi it wouldn't necessarily mean the end of Richard Parker. Pi had tied the boat to the island so as long as that rope and those knots held Richard would have been safe. So he could havva lived to a ripe old age. But would you have wanted him too?

Lauren Smith It was a bit odd. But I'll take what I can get at the moment.

I think the meerkats are ok. They know how to stay safe, and they get free fish.

Yeah, that's the thing; I don't thunk Richard Parker should be stuck on that island, even if he can survive.

message 43: by Barbara (last edited Oct 24, 2012 03:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Lol, yeah it was a refreshing bit of story and one of the few interesting things in this book.

My last remark was a bit cruel, because it alludes to something you haven't read yet. But having said that it would be a poor life for him on the island but then so it is for the Meerkats for the same reasons.

Lauren Smith Just finished

After disliking if not hating almost all of this book, I really don't want to admit this but... the ending sort of saves it. Not totally - it was still really boring - but there's something here that I admire.

(view spoiler)

message 45: by Lauren (last edited Oct 24, 2012 05:07AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lauren Smith Barbara wrote: (view spoiler)"

(view spoiler)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Will you please tell us when you change your profile photo1 It already is a very confusing day for me and then you talk to me as if you know me (and you do), but I didn't recognize it was you since I looked at the photo and it was one I didn't know. :P

I agree for different reasons that the end sort of saves the story, but not enough for me to like the book. If it wasn't for the end I would have given it 1 star instead of 2.

Believing in something because you want to sounds like weakness to me. It lacks conviction. You don't take responsibility for the ideas connecting to it. I can't think of a clear way to say this, but he believes because it sounds nice and so he goes with it, but he only wants the good bits not the bad bits.
I mean look at Emma she is willing to defend her religion to the end. No matter what arguments we throw at her we will never convince her (not that I want to). She takes the good and the bad and defends both. Remember her defending the story of Job.
I can't see Pi do that for any religion. He likes the idea of a God who has the responsibility and a God that has done terrific things that are told in fantastic tales, but he doesn't take the bad. Like asking himself why God put him out on the ocean. A truly religious person would have asked questions.
I guess I am trying to say that religion for him is a hobby like other people play sports and not a conviction.

Lauren Smith Lol, sorry!

I agree for different reasons that the end sort of saves the story, but not enough for me to like the book. If it wasn't for the end I would have given it 1 star instead of 2.
I don't feel it's a strong enough save either; I'm also thinking of giving it 2 stars. Martel could have made the same point with a much shorter story.

Believing in something because you want to sounds like weakness to me. It lacks conviction. You don't take responsibility for the ideas connecting to it.
I agree, but what I like is that Pi - and the book as a whole - is admitting that religion is something people want to believe in regardless of the 'truth'. It doesn't necessarily make Pi a better person, but for this to be acknowledged is something I find quite significant.

In fact, I'm wondering if Martel doesn't consider the whole idea of "a story that will make you believe in God" as a bit of a joke. On the other hand, he might share Pi's belief that "religion will save us all" simply because it's a 'better' (more comforting) story.

I guess I am trying to say that religion for him is a hobby like other people play sports and not a conviction.
True. But I wish more people had hobbies rather than convictions.

message 48: by Lu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
Hhahah I was like, who is this person posting?!

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I do like your new photo. I forgot to say that in the previous message.

I don't agree with you that religion is something people believe in regardless of the truth. Because that would imply they know the truth and do the other thing anyway. I think they believe in religion because for them it is true. They see confirmation of their believes everywhere. What you see as truth they see as lies.

I don't think the convictions are the problem. It is the conclusions that people make on basis of those convictions and what they do with those that are the problem.

Lauren Smith Barbara wrote: "I do like your new photo. I forgot to say that in the previous message.


I don't agree with you that religion is something people believe in regardless of the truth. Because that would imply they k..."
Well, that's not exactly what I meant; I didn't articulate myself properly. I don't think wanting to believe in religion is a conscious want where people acknowledge their choice. Rather, I think religion was created out of a longing for things that God offers - an afterlife, justice in an unjust world, a coping mechanism in tough times, etc. - and an answer to perplexing questions (purpose, origin, etc.). We want these things to be true, so much so that they are considered truth by some (although other factors, like being taught to be religious from birth, obviously play a role).

What I like about Pi (the only thing I like about Pi) is that he is aware that he's choosing the nicest stories, and he's aware that religions are stories rather than truth.

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