Archives for category: Books Into Films


The Life of Pi, Chapter 78 (Excerpt)

by Yann Martel

There were many skies.

The sky was invaded by great white clouds, flat on the bottom but round and billowy on top.

The sky was completely cloudless, of a blue quite shattering to the senses.

The sky was a heavy, suffocating blanket of grey cloud, but without promise of rain.

The sky was thinly overcast.

The sky was dappled with small, white, fleecy clouds.

The sky was streaked with high, thin clouds that looked like a cotton ball stretched apart.

The sky was a featureless milky haze.

The sky was a density of dark and blustery rain clouds that passed by without delivering rain.

The sky was painted with a small number of flat clouds that looked like sandbars.

The sky was a mere block to allow a visual effect on the horizon: sunlight flooding the ocean, the vertical edges between light and shadow perfectly distinct.

The sky was a distant black curtain of falling rain.

The sky was many clouds at many levels, some thick and opaque, others looking like smoke.

The sky was black and spitting rain on my smiling face.

The sky was nothing but falling water, a ceaseless deluge that wrinkled and bloated my skin and froze me stiff.



I just watched the trailer for the film version of The Life of Pi, scheduled for release on November 21, 2012. (Watch it here.) With a $100 million budget and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee at the helm, this 3D adventure is probably the most anticipated movie of the year. Fans of the now-classic book (including yours truly) wonder if the movie can possibly do justice to the source material. I have a hunch it will.

Unlike books such as The Great Gatsby, which are all about the lyricism of the words on the page — and how can you ever capture that reading experience on film? — The Life of Pi is all about story, and an exciting, unpredictable tale it is.

I first read the novel about ten years ago as part of a book discussion group. If I hadn’t “had” to read it, I might not have been able to plow through the sometimes-slow, expository opening section to arrive at the book’s exciting middle and profound ending. I’ve never had such an intense reaction to a book’s conclusion — ah, ha! — so that’s who Richard Parker really was! (Richard Parker is the charmingly named tiger at the heart of the book.)

In our book discussion group, reactions were divided — some people just couldn’t get through Part One (approximately the first third of the approximately 300 page book) to reach Part Two, where the story took off with: “The ship sank.” And by Part Three (about the last 20 pages), you understand why the author, Yann Martel — in a writing tour de force — set up the story the way he did in Part One.

I found The Life of Pi  enlightening, exciting, exquisite, exceptional. It was one of the most significant reading experiences of my life. Will the movie live up to the book? From what I’ve seen so far, looks like it just might .


Some years ago, I read statistics about the percentage of income that people in various countries spend on cultural activities — music, tickets to plays, visits to museums, and the like — and the Irish came out on top (if I remember correctly, by a wide margin). I don’t think the U.S. was even in the top five (I will keep looking for this chart — can’t locate at the moment).

I think we could promote greater participation in cultural offerings among the U.S. populace by making these activities affordable. For example, the City of Chicago offers free museum passes through its library system (During a visit last summer, I took full advantage of this  — with my mother’s library card — thank you, Mr. Mayor!). Some theaters offer free tickets to people who will serve as ushers. Most major cities host a variety of free outdoor events during the summer. I am always on the lookout for affordable activities to spark my imagination and uplift my soul.

Like most people today, I don’t have the disposable income to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets to major concerts and theatrical events — but I really, really, really wanted to see War Horse when it hit Los Angeles. Fortunately, I was able to purchase a ticket for $20 (plus a $6 service fee) through Yes, the seat was in the upper, upper, upper balcony in the top, top, top row — but that was just fine with me. The show was wonderful — moving and inspiring and life-affirming. If the War Horse tour swings your way, find a way to see this amazing show.

I first read about War Horse in the New York Times when the show was running in NYC — and don’t recall ever reading such a rave review. When I learned that the play was based on a book by Michael Morpurgo, I read the book as soon as I could get a copy from the library. (Find it here.) What a book! The horse (Joey) is the narrator — something that, I guess, didn’t translate to the play or eventual movie. I was in awe of how the author (Morpurgo) was able to pull off a horse narrator and make me completely buy it.

Kudos to you, Mr. Morpurgo — for bringing to life this wonderful creation that has seen so many successful incarnations (book, play, movie). You are truly inspired. Thank you!