Life of Pi – Yann Martel

It was the bookjacket that caught my eye.

I’ve never been much of a “literary” reader. I think it had to do with too much D.H. Lawrence, William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf in school. The net impact of that particular school of great literature was to drive me irrevocably away from anything remotely literary for years, if not decades…

Oh I like classic literature but my taste runs more towards the ancients and the swashbucklers- The Odyssey remains a prime favorite, Beowulf, Shakespeare and Scharazade all grace my library shelves and as for literature from the last century or so, give me Dumas, Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, ER Burroughs, Twain and H.G. Wells and keep the rest…

Life of Pi might be literary according to the critics, but I’ll warrant it has more in common with the Odyssey then it does any other literary tome. Yann Martel has crafted an evocative travelers tale, an odyssey story of sorts that weaves almost magically into your head and leaves you, in the end, puzzling over the journey, your own as well as the book’s.

Life of Pi is the lyical and imaginative story of Piscine Patel (the Pi of the title), a 16-year old boy on a spiritual journey of faith that takes an abrupt left turn when he is cast adrift in a lifeboat by a shipwreck, alone on the high seas – except for the one unique passenger on his boat – a full-grown 450 lb. adult Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.

Pi’s odyssey is a parable of faith, imagination and, oddly enough, zoology, giving you a quick,vivid and surprisingly effective lessons in animal pyschology and lion-taming. Martel’s fable is at times harrowing, uplifting and intense, drawing you into the shared plight of both Pi Patel and Richard Parker. Life of Pi is one of those stories that you find yourself mulling over long after the book is closed. It is, on many levels, one of the most mesmerizing stories I have read and Martel’s prose gifts readers with a real treasure.

How long can you survive adrift at sea? The record very probably belongs to some poor unknown sailor whose story never came to anyone else’s ears but for a true survivors’ tale check out Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan.

Here’s some more castaways for you….

And some more Pi

Interested in tigers? Here’s a little proverb:

“Trouble rather the tyger in his lair,

than the sage among his books,

for to you

Kingdom’s and their Armies

are things mighty and enduring,

but to him

they are but

toys of the moment,

to be swept away

with the flick of a finger.”

For more on tigers, check out 5Tigers Tiger Information Centre, Tigers in Crisis, and the Tiger Foundation.

You might also like these guys…Magnum P.I. did.

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