Books 5/17/04

I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and my mind is spinning as I try to process it all. It’s a beautiful, challenging book and I don’t know that there’s any one right interpretation. But this is mine for this reading of it.
Pi is a sweet little boy who goes through a horrible ordeal. He tells the story of what happened, and his telling of the story is how he takes something gruesome and gives it meaning. (Reminiscent of Big Fish and Don Juan DeMarco in terms of how we use stories to portray emotion and depth of experience.) To believe his account takes a leap of faith, a belief in the unusual, but his story contains allegory and metaphor for life. It functions as the stories of religion- it’s a narrative deeper in its application and meaning.
What that meaning is is difficult to express on first reading. I sense a connection between Pi’s experience on the boat to Hindu concepts, although there are also parallels to Christian stories (Noah, Job, Daniel and the Lion’s Den). The island he finds is perhaps a comment on the Muslim experience, but as his own faith transcends religions, so do his allegories run together. The main vision I see in it is one of a cycle of life – a blissful pre-existence of learning and growth; a seperation from that to earth life, full of struggles, trial, and application of those things learned earlier; then a returning to a that previous existence where, if faith and a proper perspective have been applied during trials, progression can be made. If the trials had the opposite effect, of dragging down and causing to lose hope, then growth won’t have happened.
I have no idea if that makes any sense, but the book is beautiful despite its gruesomeness at times.

I just read an interview with Yann Martel, and it backs up my thoughts on the redemptive power of stories, the choice we have about how we view reality. He’s an interesting man.

Addtional thoughts from a couple days later when my mind is still naturally wandering back to this book (while trying not to include anything that will be a spoiler)-
Pi and Richard Parker on the boat = the spiritual vs. the physical
Violence of the animals on the boat= connection between all life- what violence do we accept? ( I don’t quite know how to express this)
Pi’s realization that Richard Parker is on the boat, in relation to revelations made later, is one of the most powerful moments in any book, ever. I keep returning to it again and again in my mind.
Current Count: 56
Just Finished: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Next up: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

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