Man, I felt like I had been reading this book forever by the time I finished it, even though it was probably only a couple of weeks. And I’ve read it before! It is not a quick read. I’m warning you now.
The last time I read this book was in 2003, right before I took AP English in my senior year of high school. I remember this because I was, like, super-madly in love with the book and I spent a lot of time trying to work it into the various timed essays we had to write for the class. However, after six-ish years, all I could remember about the books was that there’s a kid called Pi who gets stuck on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a tiger. Which is an apt description, I suppose, but I felt I should read it again to remember why that was awesome. So I made my book club read it. Multi-tasking!
Anyway… I don’t really remember what I liked about the book six years ago (if only I had been keeping this blog back then!), but what I like about it today is how informative it is. The story is pretty meh — Pi spends a third of the book dithering about his name and how he’s practicing three religions at once, then goes and gets himself shipwrecked and talks about life on a lifeboat for the rest of the book — but Martel puts in all these facts about religions and zookeeping and the training of tigers that is just so interesting that I want to know more. Like the fact that zoos stage their animals’ habitats so that the fence is right at the distance where the animals would be all, “Okay, humans, you take one step closer and I’mma eat you.” Or that lion tamers at the zoo keep the lions in check by entering the ring first and making it their territory that the animals are trespassing on. Blah blah blah, boy on a lifeboat, whatever, tell me more about how some walls in zoos wouldn’t really keep a big cat in if he wanted to get out, but the cat has no reason to leave his comfy home.
The only part of the story itself that I really enjoyed was the very last part, where Pi has washed up in Mexico and is telling his story to the men from the shipping company. I really love the point that is made in this conversation and I think it makes the whole book worth reading, if you can get that far. I am excited to talk about this book with my club!
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.