Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Life of Pi

Currently reading: "Transmetropolitan" - Warren Ellis, "The Awakening" - Kate Chopin

Next up: "The Crimson Petal and the White" - Michael Faber

I recently joined a reading group on Live Journal called "del_libro", and I'm so glad I did. Had I not, I might not have read "The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel....a truly amazing read!!!

On the surface, it's the story of a 16 year old Indian boy named "Pi" who, when he and his zookeeping family decide to transplant themselves and some animals to Canada, ends up stranded on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-lb Bengal tiger named "Richard Parker."
Don't let the Rudyard Kipling-ness of the plot fool you! In reality, this book is an examination of faith in all its forms. Young Pi loves God, and to prove it he becomes Christian and Muslim in addition to his native Hinduism. He also loves animals, and much of the book examines animal psychology and its relationship to human psychology in a vibrant, interesting way.
This book had me asking questions about my life, my beliefs, and my society on just about every page....and when the reader gets to the end (which I won't spoil here), the reader is forced to ask themself the kind of person they really are. If ever there was a novel that could be called a litmus test, it's this one. "The Life of Pi" will, at the very least, entertain through its sharp storytelling, but it can also help a reader examine how they see the world - and isn't that the point of great literature?

Favorite quotes:

"I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. LIke me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap."

"But I don't insist. I don't mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people's good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both."

"And so, when she first heard of Hare Krishnas, she didn't hear right. She heard 'hairless Christians', and that is what they were to her for many years. When I corrected her, I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims."

"Christianity is a religion in a rush. Look at the world created in seven days. Even on a symbolic level, that's creation in a frenzy. To one born in a religion where the battle fora single soul can be a relay race run over many centuries, with innumerable generations passing along the baton, the quick resolution of Christianity has a dizzying effect. If Hinduism flows placidly like the Ganges, then Christianity bustles like Toronto at rush hour. It is a religion as swift as a swallow, as urgent as an ambulance. It turns on a dime, expresses itself in the instant. In a moment, you are lost or saved. Christianity stretches back through the ages, but in essence it exists only at one time: right now."


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