cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Life of Pi”

Author Spotlight: Yann Martel


It’s encouraging to me as a writer when an author overcomes the odds and publishes a book of lasting impact. Yann Martel accomplished this with Life of Pi.


Admittedly, I ignored the book on the premise of the impossibility of plot–a tiger, a boy, a lifeboat, and survival. Nope, not plausible.

There lies the irony. 

Martel’s novel is built upon the premise of impossibility, of reading a story fraught with fantastical aspects, being given a more reasonable story, and making a decision which is the one to believe. Ambiguity can be a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled writer. That’s why stories such as Saki’s “The Interlopers” still intrigue us. And what about Inception’s ending? We want answers, yet answers in life aren’t always so easily found or understood.

The book’s ending is a stickler for those who want clean closure to their reading. Martel bumps that paradigm of tidiness and keeps his readers working. Wanting to know what the meaning of “And so it is with God” gets people scurrying to to Internet in hopes for answers: Sparknotes, Shmoop, and even Quora

I dabble in Quora and had forgotten I had written an answer to the request of “What does the ending mean?” *embarrassing*

There is purposeful ambiguity in the ending. We seek answers to life’s difficult questions, and one of the biggest questions people desire an answer for concerns faith. Does God exist? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God allow evil and illness to exist? These are some of the faith questions that people struggle with. The ending offers the only possible answer: it is our interpretation. The tiger story seems incredible, impossible, surreal even. The human story is brutal, shocking, more believable. Interestingly enough, the insurance investigators wanted a story they could take with them so they would not be considered fools, this would be the human story; however, the insurance report reveals the note of how Pi survived his ordeal with a Bengal tiger. The insurance investigators wanted facts, to hold on to reason, yet in the end they acknowledged the impossible. And so it is with God—we search for the truth, we want to see with our eyes, and will accept what we feel in our heart. All things are possible with God. I think this is the meaning of the ending: see with your eyes, believe with your heart.

I just recently re-watched the film adaptation and I am again mesmerized by the absolute art of its totality–the directing, editing, cinematography, pacing, acting, special effects. The film is an emotional experience. The ending line so much more poignant having experienced the visual ordeal of Pi’s experience. I reread the novel as a reminder the adaptation is the echo, a brilliant one, of the original story. 

I plan on reading Martel’s other novels as well. I’m especially intrigued with his letters to the Canadian prime minister, which revolves around Martel sending the governmental leader over a hundred books as a means of establishing the importance of creativity.

Conversation Point: What does the Life of Pi’s ending mean to you?

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A Slice of Pi


Too often I realize I am a book snob. Certain subjects, authors, or just because it is crazy popular will place me in snub mode. My shame, especially since I am a professed Book Booster. Isn’t confession supposed to be part of the cure?
This is why I am even more embarrassed I have put off reading Life of Pi for so long.

image from videostoresnearspringfield.com

When it first came out I did my huffy verisimilitude snort and bypassed it. “Oh, please, really? A boy and a tiger on the ocean in a boat and he lives to tell about?” I had no problem with C.S. Lewis creating a horse and a boy as pals, let alone a lion mentoring three British children? I really must get my veracity meter checked one of these days.

With Pi I broke THE rule and saw the movie first–home version, sans Blu-Ray or 3D glasses. My review? Magical.
And that’s it. You don’t need yet another review among the surfeit of Pi commentaries. The movie motivated me to read the book.. Fortunately, our school librarian, in the midst of checking in end-of- the year materials, hasn’t had time to shelve new books and she allowed me to take it home over the weekend. There’s nothing like a long weekend and a mesmerizing novel.
I will say this–I appreciate the novel so much more having experienced the film (possible even in plain everyday vanilla DVD fashion). Frankly, parts of the plot were a bit hard to visualize, such as the raft and the meerkat island, without the aid of movie inserts. It’s not that my imagination station is broke it’s just that Ang Lee created such a wondrous palette of preprogrammed living color the plot danced more as the movie played in my head. Then there is Richard Parker; I couldn’t have imagined him as well as his CGI counterpart. He is such a handsome tiger. Of course,  meerkats by the thousands is visually is much more impressive via the wide-screen than by my mental viewing station.

The novel contains much more detail (I, uh, flipped past some of the more colorful aspects of oceanic survival); however, aspects of the movie were better, such as the family dynamics.

The most important takeaway of both stories is this quote:

“And so it is with God.”

This quote absolutely resonates with me. The ambiguity of the story’s ending reminds me so much of Inception, allowing us the intelligence of denouement possibilities.

I wonder if there is a correlation between my initially snubbing Life of Pi because I did not grow up with pie–seriously, I don’t remember my mom serving up chocolate cake, apple pie, or cookies (I have compensated and I taught myself the art of pie making and make a mean apple custard pie complimented by “my goodness!” flaky crust). Pie didn’t interest me until I reached adulthood.

And so it is with this Pi, of which I will ask for another slice.

Cover of "Life of Pi"

Cover of Life of Pi

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