Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

Life of Pi
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Katie ATX (katieatx) | 74 comments Megan wrote: "Katie wrote: "I just finished Life of Pi as well. I was a bit disappointed in the end. They leave it open for the reader to decide which story is true, but its clear which is and its just a disappo..."

I think the true one is the second one that he told the reporters. It might have even been a more interesting story if they had skipped all the animal stuff and just told that one, but because they chose to tell the animal story instead I kind of wish they had never brought the second story into play at all. I'm being rather vague, but don't want to give too much away to those who haven't read it.


Lynn I read this book several years ago and really enjoyed it, but I also remember being frustrated by the vague ending. I need to re-read it again. But I agree that the true story was probably the one he told the reporters.


Christina Stind | 183 comments I saw the animal story as a way for Pi to tell what had happened without being driven mad. If he had to tell in so many details what had happened with human beings as the players, I don't think he could have done that. It's a story of survival, both mentally and physically.
I think the true story is the second one - and I loved the book!


message 4: by Emu (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emu | 60 comments I always thought this book was about faith - you can choose to believe in the most incredible story or take the logical explanations. - Some people (as with faith) choose to believe what to others is incredible.


Katie ATX (katieatx) | 74 comments Emu wrote: "I always thought this book was about faith - you can choose to believe in the most incredible story or take the logical explanations. - Some people (as with faith) choose to believe what to others ..."

That makes the comment on the cover about the book making you believe in God make more sense.


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie (juliemoncton) | 55 comments I agree with Emu that the story is about faith. It's been awhile since I read it, but in the book somewhere he mentions that the people he pities the most are agnostics because they need proof and are unwilling to believe without evidence. Although, sadly, I thought the 2nd story was true, I discussed this book in my bookclub and there were a few people who believed the story about the tiger. The book is a great one to discuss if you add in religion and how if you analyzed many of our beliefs/creation ideas, you would find them fantastic stories that can't possibly be true.


Monique (moniquereads) | 9 comments I also think this book is true but did not care for the second version he gave for the story that much. I do think that it is true, but I had a hard time following it. Even after reading it several times I still was confused and just gave up.

My friends that are more religious like this book better than the ones that are not.


Elizabeth I believe the second story is the true one. Being religious or not will make or break this book for you, particularily when it comes to the two stories. I think it all really comes together when Pi asks the reporters, "Which story do you prefer, the one with the animals or the second one? And which one do you think God prefers?"


Elizabeth Katie wrote: "Megan wrote: "Katie wrote: "I just finished Life of Pi as well. I was a bit disappointed in the end. They leave it open for the reader to decide which story is true, but its clear which is and its ..."

Katie, it might not be a bad idea to put "Spoilers" in the thread title. Knowing that there are two stories might ruin the book for some people who haven't read it yet.


message 10: by Cathy (last edited Oct 21, 2009 06:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cathy I believe the Tiger story to be metaphoric and a coping mechanism. The author's imagination and sense of fantasy were so vivid he had me believing every word well into the book. The fantastical is accepted is so many cultures--why not ours? I read a great quote somewhere that said (roughly) The following is a true story, even if the actual events never happened.




Ananya (sowmyas) | 17 comments I think both stories are true in the sense that the whole book is an exaggerated imagination of a person struggling for survival, and that was the real thing.


Denise | 235 comments I listened to this on a long road trip. I don't remember who read it, but he did a great job. I liked the story a lot and found it to be thought-provoking and interesting.

Cathy, my interpretation matches yours. I completely bought into the tiger story, though, until he told the second story. Then I had a "duh" moment.

Sowmya, I agree it was the struggle for survival that required his exagerated imagination to work as a coping mechanism.


message 13: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma (mnium) | 138 comments This discussion has not been active for a few days, but I thought I'd come in with an excerpt from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die entry anyway:

Pi recounts the harrowing journey but hidden in his account is an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of religion and writing, and the difference between truth and fiction. Pi realizes he must learn to become the tiger's master, with the interaction between the two forming rich metaphors for spirituality and belief--to some extent, each of the (possibly imaginary) animals could represent a different facet of the hallucinating Pi. The underlying current of the book is that Pi must master his own dark side, his fear, despair, and desperation at his condition and the loss of his family. In a philosophical twist at the end after Richard Parker disappears and Pi is rescued, Pi placates doubting officials with a more credible version of his survival story. This is the version he is convinced they want to hear, and the reader is reminded yet again of how hard it is to tell whether a story is true. (905)


message 14: by H.J. (last edited Feb 02, 2009 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

H.J. Swinford (hayleejalyn) I really like that summary/analysis from the 1001 Book. Even after the end, I've always leaned slightly toward the tiger story as being the true one. But whether it is or not, the point of the novel isn't a question of Pi's sanity nor is it about figuring out which version is true. In fact, I think if you were able to conclude truth in either story, it would defeat the standing purpose of the novel.

Thanks, Emma, for posting that!


message 15: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma (mnium) | 138 comments Sometimes the reviews from Boxall's book are a little off, even factually incorrect regarding plot points, but sometimes they're good.


Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments I agree with Haylee on the outcome of the story and whether or not you are supposed to determine which story is the true one. I like the tiger story more just because it lends itself more to my adventurous style.


message 17: by Chel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chel | 376 comments I believe the Tiger story was a coping mechanism and the latter story was the actual. However, I do like to rotate the stories in my mind and pretend they are each real and am willing to accept the possibility that both stories, or pieces of them, may have occurred together. Great book overall, huh?


Ananya (sowmyas) | 17 comments The tiger story was false - the coping mechanism that created this story being born out of a 'real' struggle.
The second story was True - the absolutely normal recital of it that conveys little emotion is false.

Wonder what the author's views are?
Yeah great book!


Derrick (afderrick) | 92 comments Why as adults must we rationlize and explain things? The second story is more easily believed because I can rationalize that story in my mind. It makes sense that there were only people on the boat and that the tiger was simply a methaphor of the traumatic events that in fact did occur to him.

Not all things in the world can be explained. I believe the tiger story is true the boy was simply smart enough to realize that adults need something more rationale to believe in. The abstract, it's hard to wrap one's head around and thus unbelievable because no one wants to be "that guy" who belives the crazy stuff.

It's been a year since I read this book, I need to re-read it, absolutely loved it.


message 20: by Chel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chel | 376 comments I agree that one can accept both stories and that there can be a very compelling argument made for the tiger story as having actually occurred. I bet what casts the tiger story more in doubt is the meerkat island portion of it which gets bizarre and stretches rational plausibility.


message 21: by Daniel (last edited Jun 23, 2009 07:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Teo | 10 comments I think the real question here is not which story actually occurred, but which story we CHOOSE to believe is true.

In the end, which story we choose to believe in tells us a lot about ourselves.

And yeah, I really loved this book!


Ananya (sowmyas) | 17 comments Daniel wrote: "I think the real question here is not which story actually occurred, but which story we CHOOSE to believe is true.

In the end, which story we choose to believe in tells us a lot about ourselves.

..."


Yes I agree




message 23: by Daniel (last edited Jun 25, 2009 12:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Teo | 10 comments Chel wrote: "I bet what casts the tiger story more in doubt is the meerkat island portion of it which gets bizarre and stretches rational plausibility."

I feel the same. I always had trouble liking that part; it just seemed so detached from the rest of the book. Perhaps the leap of faith required of me is just a bit too much in this case ;)




message 24: by Daniel (last edited Jun 23, 2009 08:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Teo | 10 comments Sowmya, I'm glad you agree :)

That's why I think it's a shame if someone is put off by the book because of the different versions, because it wasn't 'clear' which story was actually true.

To me, this ambiguity forms the essence of the book, and forces us to think about our ideas on faith and how it affects us.


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

Dave I completely concur, Daniel. That is the essence of the book, thinking about the possible reality of either story. I thought it was a great read.


Ananya (sowmyas) | 17 comments The ambiguities are peppered throughout the book, which makes the reader (I think) readily buy in to the authenticity of a person's state of mind during a horrendous struggle for life.
Yes it would have been less interesting if the second story had been left out. A curious mind always seeks that extra bit of information.. did the writer favour either version or 'fix' the ambiguity with the intention of letting the reader decide ?
A good debate.


message 27: by Linda (last edited Jul 11, 2009 07:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Linda I loved this book and I found it a creative addition to include an "alternate ending." It doesn't matter which version of the story really happened - actually neither one is true because this is a work of FICTION! So you can choose which version you believe really happened to Pi, or actually which one you WANT to believe.


message 28: by Linda (last edited Jul 09, 2009 11:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Linda Regarding the whole - "which story do you believe" idea - I see a bit of a parallel with that and the idea of "which religion do you follow" or "which God do you believe in." Although Pi had faith in God, he couldn't seem to make up his mind which God/gods to believe in and pray to. One of the problems I did have with this aspect of the story is that one really cannot be a Hindu, a Muslim, AND a Christian - there are too many teachings within these religions that contradict the others that you really need to choose one and reject the others. By accepting all of them, you have in effect chosen none. At least that's the way I see it.

It almost seems that by offering a second account of what happened to Pi, the author is saying: it doesn't matter which account is true, but what you choose to believe is true that's important. But just like religion - they can't Both be true; the story accounts are mutually exclusive, and only One is actually the truth.


Duane (duanen) | 5 comments Although I haven't read many of the posts here --- the point of that ending is to see which one you believe is the "better" story. Go re-read Chapters 21 and 22, which the author said in an interview or something were the crux of the book.

Clearly the fantastic story with the animals and the island are the "better" story. In truth, the only things that stick out of that story as ridiculous (if you can believe that a kid can control a tiger -- but then that's the whole point of the introduction as him being a zookeeper's son), is finding another person stranded on a small boat and the island.

In some sense, you're supposed to have fun with this story. For instance, I went and checked if a large amount of bananas actually floated, which they do. Although one story might jump out as the realistic one, it all comes down to which true story you want to BELIEVE.


That is the message of this wonderful book.


Ananya (sowmyas) | 17 comments That is very true Duane. Ultimately the main aim is to enjoy a story. It is just interesting to see how many people agree with whatever version you chose to believe.


Duane (duanen) | 5 comments That's true and understandable.

I hope I didn't come off as too pushy with what I said. It's just I read the first few replies about disliking the vague ending and all, and I thought that was the whole point of the book.


Daniel Teo | 10 comments Duane wrote: "That's true and understandable.

I hope I didn't come off as too pushy with what I said. It's just I read the first few replies about disliking the vague ending and all, and I thought that was the ..."


You should have kept reading ;-)



Ananya (sowmyas) | 17 comments Duane wrote: "That's true and understandable.

I hope I didn't come off as too pushy with what I said. It's just I read the first few replies about disliking the vague ending and all, and I thought that was the ..."


You did have a point ...




Jessie (Jessie08) | 10 comments Overall, I didn't enjoy the book very much because of how tedious the middle of the book was. However, I thought that it was one of the best endings to book ever.


Jamaie 5-star from me! This is in my top 10 all-time faves...and one I will read again at some point.


Veronica (vdma) Loved the ending, and not because of the what-may-be-the-true-story intrigue. The experiences of the main character were so overwhelming that he created his own perspective, as everybody tends to do. The unique thing of this novel is that we're allowed to peek behind the curtains and see what lies at the source of the characters pain. True or not true are, in my opinion, besides the point.


message 37: by Senthil (new)

Senthil (sandysenthil) | 3 comments I am going to read this book "Life of a pi" now....so is it worth reading????


message 38: by Senthil (new)

Senthil (sandysenthil) | 3 comments @Amanda- Thank you... surely.. will read it.. and let u knw...


harleen (harleenbhogal) Derrick wrote: "Why as adults must we rationlize and explain things? The second story is more easily believed because I can rationalize that story in my mind. It makes sense that there were only people on the bo..."

Wow. I never thought about that. Although personally I believe that Pi's second story reflects what really happened, I really love the way you interpreted the book's ending.


message 40: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Baldwin | 2 comments It's been about five years since I've read this book, but my opinion of the ending is that the 2nd was the true story but the first was the story that happened to Pi. To the outsider looking in the 2nd story is what they would see but to Pi the first story is what he experienced.


message 41: by Duy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Duy | 17 comments I just started reading this. I am on the part of religion etc. Hopefully once I finish the book I will understand what the hype is all about :)


message 42: by Kiri (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kiri (kirious) | 1 comments I heard a discussion on minnesota public radio with the author; he mentioned that he deliberately made the "tiger" story less and less plausible, building to the Meerkat island section to make it clear that this was not a "real" or "true" story.

The interesting thing to me, then, is figuring out what we're supposed to take from this - the adventure and exotic nature of the first story versus the brutality and horrendous nature of the second. It says something about the power of fiction, the power of imagination... not sure where god comes in to it.


message 43: by Duy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Duy | 17 comments Well I finally finished the book yesterday. For some reason, I didnt really have a hard time believing the first story. The details he gives into animal psyches and the details concerning everything he had to do, made it all the more plausible. Also, if the second story is the truth and the first is just his coping mechanism, then how does he have the presence of mind to recite everything that happened?


message 44: by Chel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chel | 376 comments Good point Duygu. I was wondering the same thing.


message 45: by Dean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dean I think that one of the most important elements of the story is the question about what is more important - the truth or the story. It's one of those things I have to try to keep in mind any time I watch a historical movie. An example would be the classic movie My Darling Clementine. It has almost no factual resemblance to reality but should that make it any less a great movie?


message 46: by Tej (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tej | 120 comments Thank you, Kiri, for posting that tidbit about the author interview making the animal part of the story less and less plausible so that we could accept the real story at the end. ****spoiler alert***** For me, I knew it was all in Pi's mind when he met the other person also stranded in the middle of the ocean. Not only would it be extremely unlikely to meet someone in those circumstances, but Pi had a knowledge of French cooking that he would not have gotten during his life in a small town of India. That told me he must have known someone on the boat who told him about it.

To answer the question of how he would have the presence of mind to recite all that, I'd say this was far more plausible than the movie The Usual Suspects (which I really liked, btw). Pi spent a lot of time alone in the middle of nowhere having to cope with a tragedy that I hope no one would ever have to survive. He also would have been experiencing physical delusions from the elements and from lack of food/water. He quite likely went through the whole story in his own mind over and over again--changing it every time to make it easier for himself--long before he was rescued.

I think the whole point of the novel is to illustrate the contortions of our minds while we attempt to cope with trauma.


Kathy I just finished reading this book. It's so great to read all the comments on here to make more sense of the story.
I really enjoyed this book and did not question or hesitate in believing the story with the tiger until he met another person in the ocean. Then I knew something was up. But now that I know that it was all an illusion, and he ended up telling us what really happened, I do want to re-read the book and observe all the symbolism.
Great book.


message 48: by Tej (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tej | 120 comments Kathy, that is EXACTLY how I felt. I was completely drawn in by the original story, but then it got really fun for me when he met the other person. I knew then it was too unlikely and started trying to find other clues to what was really going on. As soon as I finished, I wanted to start it all over again so that I could spot the clues.


message 49: by Regine (last edited Oct 10, 2010 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Regine I own a copy of this book, but haven't read it yet. With all the comments on here, i am really excited to start it.


message 50: by Lit (new)

Lit React | 3 comments A great book which is highly readable too; two qualities that sometimes don't go together! Pi seems like a well meaning kid and his innocence, which is never really lost, shines throughout the novel.


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