Author: Yann Martel
When I began this book I was expecting a story about a small boy on a small boat with a big tiger. How truly mistaken I was...
I'm not sure how to begin this. I don't think there's really any words that can explain the depth of this book. Brillance and inspirational do not scratch the surface. This book is the Pacific and adjectives are but lifeboats floating atop its waves.
"As an aside, story of sole survivor, Mr. Piscine Molitor Patel, Indian citizen, is an astounding story of courage and endurance in the face of extraordinarily difficult and tragic circumstances. In the experience of this investigator his story is unparalleled in the history of shipwrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger."I believe that is the best way of putting it. This excerpt from Mr. Okamoto's report of the sinking of the Tsimtsum is the only logical way of explaining the book. And maybe that's because there is no logical way of explaining such a story.
As Pi said:
"To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."
“If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”I think that this is the main point of this story. The bravery of belief. When you set out to read this novel you think that it's going to be some inspirational junk about some Indian boy going on a boat ride with a mean cat. You would be wrong.
It takes a brave author to begin a book by informing the reader about three-toed sloths. It takes an even braver reader to continue reading said book. Until page ninety-five he's not even on a boat, and it kills you. But looking back, the most important part was that first one hundred pages.
Let's talk about the writing itself for a moment. It's good. Better than good. It's brave. This story is such a jumble. It jumps around a timeline like a fruit fly buzzing from flower to flower. You begin to understand the boy on the boat. Like repeating a story aloud, it's never in a straight line. You must back-track and flash-forward to explain. One memory opens to another and then jumps back.
Martel's writing is delicate, yet strong when needed. His mesmerizing depictions of the sea will enthrall all of your senses. His gruesome depictions of survival will make you squirm in your seat. And then, once you've sailed through a sea of emotions. Once you've felt the torrential downpour of this poor boy's pain. Once you experience the overwhelming beauty as the story comes to a close, the book transforms before you in an instant and you are forever left in a state of pure humanity.
The scene has changed, the characters have changed. The truth which you once believed is no more. The moral you expected is gone. And in its place is a question:
"It makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with the animals or the story without the animals?"This question is not for the investigators. It's for the reader. Do you believe the lovely, but less rational story? Or would you believe the rational, but terrible version? What is your reality? Which makes you happier? Each version takes some faith. The choice is yours. There is no wrong answer.
But you want facts. You want the truth. That's human nature, isn't it? To seek out the truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God. But that's ironic isn't it. Because God is faith, and faith isn't truth. Faith is acceptance beyond the realm of truth.
Pi shows us that faith is an ideal. Faith is something that isn't controlled by religion or by social normals. Faith isn't what our parents or our neighbors believe. Faith is something that enriches our lives. Faith is something that makes us happy. Faith is the ideal of living.
In my opinion, I choose the story with the animals because, like Pi, that's the one that makes me happiest.
Reality is a story. You choose your own.