Life of Pi

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, and I’m getting behind in reporting on the stuff I’ve enjoyed.

After The Ministry of Fear, I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I had heard some good things about it, and knew that it had won some award, so I decided to give it a try.

Life of Pi is not a Christian book, but it is religious—the main character, Pi Patel, actually considers himself to be Hindu, Christian and Muslim at the same time. Martel doesn’t really explain how that is possible, and actually, doesn’t explain much of anything in the book, but he does offer some stellar insights on religion, philosophy, and the story of life through the tale of a boy fighting for his survival while stuck on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
On the relationship between zoos and religion:
“I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”
As I mentioned before, Pi is deeply religious. His thoughts on agnosticism:
“I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted to doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
On the importance of ending things well:
“What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell…It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.”
Life of Pi concludes with a couple of sharp plot twists that leave the reader wondering what has really happened, but even more importantly, questioning whether knowing what really happened is even all that important:
“The world isn’t just the way it is. It’s also how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story? I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. A dry, yeastless factuality.”
If you’re interested in survival stories, animals, Indian culture, religion or philosophy, I recommend Life of Pi. It provides a healthy dose of each.


david mcmahon 5/28/08, 5:41 PM  

It's been recommended to me by many readers, Luke - and you've convinced me it is time!!

Luke Dockery 5/28/08, 11:02 PM  


That's great. I can't imagine you not liking it. Let me know how it turns out.

My Unfinished Life 5/29/08, 3:49 AM  

seems to be an interesting book...heard a lot about it..well...noe its on my list books to be read!!!

Luke Dockery 5/29/08, 10:09 AM  

Shooting Star,

I'm glad to hear it, hope you like it!

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