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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Life of Pi

Life of Pi - Yann Martel The story in Life of Pi describes the book itself. It is the impossible tale of a boy, trapped on a lifeboat alone with a 450-pound tiger for 227 days. It is a story that, like the ocean waves, has its ups and downs. Just when it seems like you’ll never reach dry land, you do. And when you look back on this book, much like being adrift at sea, the ordeal blurs together into one journey that has a clear beginning and ending, but no clear middle. And that ending—boy, it’s a day you’ll never forget.The 2002 Man Booker Prize winner was a highly refreshing read. Even considering the absurd premise, it was not what I expected. Yet, this novel wasn’t absurd at all. It almost seemed believable. And although Life of Pi had many comical passages, it also had just as many dramatic ones. It is such a well-rounded title I barely can imagine a better stab at the marooned premise.Life of Pi’s highest points happen as the protagonist of the story, Pi, explores his choice of religion. These moments provide both comical relief and careful consideration, and Martel handled both with care. And of course there is the final part of the book, where Pi explains his ordeal to two Japanese men. These final pages are the books greatest: hilarious, heart wrenching, and brilliant.The lowest points are not so low, they are tedious, but this is necessary. What is a “lost at sea” book that doesn’t drag out the trials of being adrift? Otherwise, what joy is there in the reader of being found? So, the longest part of Life of Pi chronicles the 227 days Pi and the tiger are together on a solitary lifeboat. And since tigers don’t talk, much of the novel is filled with descriptive narrative.Before starting Martel’s prize winning novel, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it. Now I must admit I was quite surprised. Like the castaway experience, however, I wouldn’t want to go through the ordeal again, but I will not likely soon forget the story.