Seeing the Story – Life of Pi


Life of Pi | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Lee, A. (Director), Sharma, S. (Performer), Khan, I., & Hussain, A. (2012). Life of pi [Theater].

Reasons for Watching: I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi a few years ago. I originally listened to the audiobook via HCPL and bought a copy of a paperback copy from the Freeman Bookstore.

Summary : Born Piscine Molitar Patel in idyllic Pondicherry, India takes on the nickname of Pi in order to avoid being called “Pissing Patel.”  Pi is the precocious son of a zoo keeper and becomes a Hindu, Christian, and Muslim simultaneously. As tensions grow in 1977, the Patels decide to immigrate to Canada via a Japanese freight boat. When the freighter wrecks, Pi finds himself in the middle of the Pacific on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.

Book to Movie Adaptation : In the book, a few passages are narrated by an “author.” Mostly, the story was told by Pi himself. Early on, director Ang Lee lets viewers listen along with the author as Pi relates his story. For the sake of time, many things were condensed. While still living in India, Pi is old enough in the movie to have a love interest in the movie. Also, Pi’s mother , Gita (played by Tabu) was much less religious in the book. As a number of differences are spoiler-laden, I’ll refer the curious readers to 9 Big Differences Between The Life Of Pi Movie And Book.

Review :

Four Out of Five Pearls 

Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits


* 1001 Books Book

Allende, I. (2005). The house of the spirits. New York: Dial Press. 9780553383805

Allende, I. (1985). The house of the spirits. New York: A.A. Knopf. 9780394539072

Having enjoyed Allende’s writing in the past, I checked out The House of the Spirits from HCPL. Before I proceed, I must state that I’ve never read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. From what I’ve seen online, this will color the reader’s opinion of The House of the Spirits.

This work is the saga of the Truebas, a family living in an unnamed South American country (presumably Chile). It follows the Trueba family for  four generations against a backdrop of political definition, struggle, and upheaval of the twentieth century. There’s also a talk of The Politician (Salvador Allende) and his fall from power.

Allende tells the story through two different voices – a third person narrator and Esteban Trueba, the elderly patriarch. The latter was engaged to Rosa del Valle, also called Rosa la Bella. When Rosa dies from an accidental poisoning, Esteban throws himself into the reconstruction of his family’s hacienda, Las Tres Marias. Esteban takes out his rage on the peasants, raping many of the females.

The matriarch of the House of Trueba is Clara del Valle, who is introduced in the first line of the book. Clara possesses all sorts of ESP and she’s sister of Rosa the Beautiful. Inadvertantly, she predicts the death of Rosa. When this happens, Clara falls silent for years. She only communicates through writing while maintaining a family history.The next time Clara talks, she announces that she’ll marry Esteban Trueba.

When they do marry, they reside in the house on the corner. Soon, they have children (Blanca, twins Jaime and Nicolas) in this house. The house  where many gather around Clara. This group includes both living and dead folks. Among the living are the Mora Sisters and the Poet (thought to be Pablo Neruda).

I was amazed by this work. As I’ve mentioned in reviewing Island Beneath the Sea, Allenda is a gifted storyteller. These characters are so real that I can almost see them. The magical elements almost offer the book the feel of fairy tale. For example, Rosa the Beautiful has green hair and yellow eyes. Esteban and Clara’s granddaughter, Alba, also has green hair. Yet, Allende gets down to business such as Pinochet’s coup on September 11, 1973. Of all of her works I’ve read, this one is the best.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: Chile, Peru, Europe, United States, Canada, China

Literary Ties: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

For more reviews of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, please click on the following links:

The Infinite Possibility of Life of Pi


 

Life of Pi by Yann Martel | LibraryThing

* 1001 Books Book

Martel, Y., & Woodman, J. (2002). Life of pi a novel. Minneapolis, MN: HighBridge. 9781565117792

I remember when Good Morning America announced it’s next book club read was Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Life of Pi is a novel in three parts with one hundred chapters Since then, I have seen Life of Pi repeatedly listed among my friends’ favorite books. I decided I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about and I was in for a treat. I checked out the audiobook version of Life of Pi (it’s citation is provided above) and enjoyed it immensely.

Part One begins with a wandering author in search of a story. While in Pondicherry, the capital of what was French India, the unnamed writer meets the elderly Francis Adirubasamy. Adirubasamy mentions the great story of Pi Patel. This is one that “will make you believe in God.” The author says that only Pi can tell this story. On the audio, there are two voices: the one of the author and that of Pi.

We first meet Piscene “Pi” Molitor Patel as a middle-aged man living with his family in Canada. He double-majored in Religion and Zoology. He voices the question that this is such an odd pairing. From there, the audience discovers that Pi was the son of a weary zoo keeper and a follower of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. His affinity for both animals and loving God is expressed fervently by Pi. He’s also quite witty; forming the nickname of Pi so he deals less with classmates destroying his given name. All of this is in the midst of the Indian period called “The Emergency.” Due to political instability experienced in 1977 India, Pi’s father makes the hard decision to sell the zoo and its animals and immigrate with his family to Canada.

So, the Patels and numerous animals who once resided at the Pondicherry Zoo, sail upon a Japanese cargo ship to Canada. Part Two presents the sinking ship. Jumping into the water, Pi pulls himself into a lifeboat. Soon, he finds himself on board with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan called Orange Juice, and Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger. As the back cover mentions, it takes Pi’s knowledge of animals and his faith to survive. When he does, can anyone really believe that he managed within such a menagerie?

I have learned much from this book. I learned all kinds of things about animals such as tigers can make a sound referred to as  “prusten” which means no harm. Another thing I found within Pi’s ordeal was that it would take a Kierkegaardian leap of faith not only to survive but to believe.  Allegorical or not,  Life of Pi is now one of my favorite books, too.

Places: India, Pacific Ocean, Mexico, Canada

4  1/2 Pearls.