Archives for posts with tag: Yann Martel

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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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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.

Photo: Talshadar, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED