Archives for posts with tag: The Life of Pi

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Yann Martel was surprised to open his mail one day and read a letter from a famous fan who enjoyed his novel Life of Pi. (For the record, at the end of the novel, the author asks readers whether they prefer his book with or without animals — a tiger named Richard Parker is one of the main characters.)

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(In case you can’t read the handwriting, here is the textMr. Martel, My daughter and I just finished reading LIFE OF PI together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God and the power of storytelling. Thank you. Barack Obama)

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I’m a huge fan of Life of Pi by Yann Martel — and am looking forward to the Thanksgiving release of the film version directed by Ang Lee.

On this blog, I try to avoid discussions of politics and religion because I feel these topics are polarizing and not really what this site is about (we talk about writing, art, and culture) — but, in its way, this post touches on both politics and religion.

So, without further preamble, here is a fan letter Yann Martel received from a reader who enjoyed Life of Pi. (For the record, at the end of the novel, Martel asks readers whether they prefer his book with or without animals — a tiger named Richard Parker is one of the main characters.)

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(In case you can’t read the handwriting, here is the text: Mr. Martel, My daughter and I just finished reading LIFE OF PI together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God and the power of storytelling. Thank you. Barack Obama)

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The Life of Pi, Chapter 78 (Excerpt)

by Yann Martel

…to be a castaway is to be caught up in grim and exhausting opposites.

When it is light, the openness of the sea is blinding and frightening.

When it is dark, the darkness is claustrophobic.

When it is day, you are hot and wish to be cool and dream of ice cream and pour sea water on yourself.

When it is night, you are cold and wish to be warm and dream of hot curries and wrap yourself in blankets.

When it is hot, you are parched and wish to be wet.

When it rains, you are nearly drowned and wish to be dry.

When there is food, there is too much of it and you must feast.

When there is none, there is truly none and you starve.

When the sea is flat and motionless, you wish it would stir.

When it rises up and the circle that imprisons you is broken by the hills of water, you suffer that peculiarity of the high seas, suffocation in open spaces, and you wish the sea would be flat again.

PHOTO: David Nicol, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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The Life of Pi, Chapter 78 (Excerpt)

by Yann Martel

To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the centre of a circle…the geometry never changes. Your gaze is always a radius. The circumference is ever great. In fact, the circles multiply.

To be a castaway is to be caught in a harrowing ballet of circles. You are at the centre of one circle, while above you two opposing circles spin about.

The sun distresses you like a crowd, a noisy, invasive crowd that makes you cup your ears, that makes you close your eyes, that makes you want to hide.

The moon distresses you by silently reminding you of your solitude; you open your eyes wide to escape your loneliness.

When you look up, you sometimes wonder if at the centre of a solar storm, if in the middle of the Sea of Tranquility, there isn’t another one like you also looking up, also trapped by geometry, also struggling with fear, rage, madness, hopelessness, apathy.

Photo: Andrzej Szymański

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The Life of Pi, Chapter 78 (Excerpt)

by Yann Martel

There were many seas.

The sea roared like a tiger.

The sea whispered in your ear like a friend telling you secrets.

The sea clinked like small change in a pocket.

The sea thundered like avalanches.

The sea hissed like sandpaper working on wood.

The sea sounded like someone vomiting.

The sea was dead silent.

And in between the two, in between the sky and the sea, were all the winds.

And there were all the nights and all the moons.

Photo: Annie Smith, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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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 .