Friday, September 14, 2007

Pi to the Rescue

I know that many of us voracious piglets (we’re still young) have spent time in our respective pens reading this book. So what better way to start than with a book that shares the story of Mr. Pi Patel. I loved the book but have a bone of contention. On the positives, Yann Martel definitely has a way with words. The book flowed perfectly, always with a philosophical thought OR God, yet not-God driven cloud surrounding each page. Perhaps that is why I liked it. It was an easy read, and some sentences were so meaningful that I wanted to mark them out. I don’t mark books at all, but if it was between writing this phrase down and marking it, marking was the easier option.

I actually completed the last few pages of the book on a subway ride home. In the days prior, I discussed the book a bit with a friend who had already completed it. I had to call her once I was done, she wanted to gauge my reaction. And boy, a reaction I had. As I reached the end of the book, I walked out of the subway shocked, a bit ticked off with Pi, and even felt betrayed by him in a way. Here’s a little fella that I had supported and rooted for throughout his challenging journey, and who on a whim decides to leave me with a tormented and puzzled brain. No closure whatsoever, how ungrateful! In time though, I respected Yann Martel and acknowledged that the global purpose of the book was more important than pleasing poor ‘ol me.

I am still open to interpretations of the book and very very interested in the story you decided to go with. I am so torn, on one hand I want to believe all that he went through was true, because I spent SO much time with him - as his shirt frayed, or as he woke up and crawled under and over the tarpaulin, as he tamed Richard Parker, as he visited the edible algae land (which was truly out of fantasyland), and on the other hand, I want to accept the story with the humans in it, because it was added as this nagging tick. A doubt, a question. Granted that is what the author intended to happen in the first place, but I definitely do NOT want to be the one who lives in a bubble and chooses situations just so that they appeal to my idealistic world.

I wonder also if our choice of story to live with is guided by how long we spent reading the details of each story (75% vs 2%?). The second story was perhaps meant to be a slap in your face, and it sure was. Anyways, I am left without real closure, each time I lean towards one story, the tick pulls me back.

If facts remain the same, and we know they did,

Story 1: All humans die initially, Pi deals with it and tries to survive with a bunch of animals.
Story 2: Humans survive including Pi, similar order of events occur, with humans instead of animals.

From Pi: “I wonder—could you tell my jumbled story in exactly one hundred chapters, not one more, not one less? I’ll tell you, that’s one thing I hate about my nickname, the way that number runs on forever. It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go.”

Have you let go of this book?

Pi = 22/7, Pi spent 227 days at sea
Pi = infinite decimals, implying an unreliability on Pi (absolutely right, he changed his story at the last minute)


  1. This little (could be up for debate) piglet has recommended the book to everyone...and yes it does leave you wondering at the end. I loved, absolutely loved the whole book. I also liked the end. Not an ending I would have expected. If asked to choose I would like to say the first story with all the animals but all reason and logic would make me choose the second one.
    And that need to choose is why the book stays with us and is the first post on this blog.

  2. The previous comment was me by the way...

  3. Where is the audience and where are the people sitting on the sidelines. We need to discuss to keep this alive as otherwise it will be abandoned and Trump will take this space over and build condos.

  4. Hm Ridhima, agree that it stays with us and for the right reasons. It is meant to trigger thoughts not just about Pi, but over and beyond Pi, into the choices we make every day - idealistic situations created in the head to deal with reality VS facing reality head on.

    I think it is a balance, sometimes overthinking a situation isnt necessary, and other times, being overly 'fantasy like' will just make you look like a fluff (not a word I am sure). But, as we trudge on with life, our circumstances make us adapt our thoughts and choices accordingly and we then just choose what works at that time.

    For e.g., before giving a speech, Adair imagines the audience naked:

    Repercussion 1: On one hand, he is belittling the audience, as for some reason nakedness demeans someone? and that makes them more powerful and he speaks like he has never spoken before.

    Repercussion 2: It backfires on him. He imagines the naked audience and suddenly sees Paul, John and Amy in a circle chatting and staring at the Dell sizzle video. It cracks him up, he cannot continue....he walks off stage. Success? Ha! Life of Adair!

  5. The important part for me is lucid storytelling and well etched out characters in any book and I think Life of Pi scores on both counts. The narrative style is old school and the allegorical where messages in the book transform into real life messages. I think the end was brilliant but I was beat at the end of the book to pay attention to the questions.
    The first half of the book with Pi in Pondicherry is very effective in capturing imagery of his surroundings growing up. I have to admit I read the book a while back and will definitely come back with more later.
    Favorite part was with the meerkats on the Island.