Thursday, December 23, 2010

Life of Pi

Loved this book!

The author's note*, establishes not only a lively, engaging tone which never leaves the book, but prepares the reader for the quite amusing twist at the end.
What is the role of story and what do we learn from the telling? Here, it is not myth, nor surreal, nor an exercise in irony, wit or a treatise on animal behavior, and yet, there is some of all of that, with a believable voice of someone who is in trouble, addressing fear, aware that survival is involved with words as reality catchers, whether it is to address everything as part of God, God's Hat, Pants, the sky being God's Ear, or to understand the complexity of fear, and those tigers who push us to go on living. Fun, with substance. A hero who goes beyond the confines of each religion, combines them all, understands the interconnectedness of life, and is able to overcome the particulars of despair that allows the reader to return to a sense of hope and faith in being human.


*Martell talks about the research for his novel.
"The plot you've mapped out is simple and gripping. You've done your research, gathering the historical, social, climatic, culinary -- that will give your story its feel of authenticity. The dialogue zips along, crackling with tension. The descriptions burst with colour, contrast and telling detail. Really, your story can only be great. But it all adds up to nothing.

Of course, he's tongue in cheek -- meeting the whisper that speaks the awful truth, 'it won't work." Why? "It's emotionally dead, that's the crux of it. The discovery is something soul-destroying, I tell you. It leaves you with an aching hunger."

Reading his story is enough to make me want to write novels.
Like Chris Cleave -- "Little Bee" or Marcus Zuzak, "The Book Thief".
And yet, in a poem, so much can be said, squeezed so carefully
each choice, in each line. I love the challenge. How to write a book that never ends -- new eyes and fresh understanding at each read.

The worst pair of opposites: boredom and terror.
a dream rag.

Doesn't the telling of something always become a story?
In Japanese, a story would have an element of invention in it. We just want the straight facts.

Life is an invention. The way things are doesn't always correspond with the way we understand them. Which is the better story? In both stories, the ship sinks, my entire family dies and I suffer.
And yet, if you ask me about the book, I wouldn't say that's what the book is about. It's larger than life. It's relationship of a smart 16 year old and the left-overs of his father's zoo. The cruelty of the hyena chewing up the zebra, first the leg, then entering it to eat it inside out; the Orang-Utan, the tiger and the way the boy and tiger establish their ways of coexisting. Like the Odyssey -- the sailing by of a hope of rescue, the landing on an island whose vegetation eats whoever sleeps in it... It's about fear -- life's only true oponent.
"Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always, One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy; then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelieve nd disbelief tires to push it out. But disbelief if a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread. //Fear next turns fully to your body which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing.

everything falls apart. Only your eyes work. They always pay proper attention to fear.
Pure animal confidence: mix of ease and concentration -- like Gary's idea of ACE:
accuracy, C and Ease. Being-in-the -presen.

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