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Lifeline, or I Hated the Life of Pi

on February 11th, 2010 by Rebeccca

Be careful who you throw the lifeline to. You could end up with a tiger in your boat. Like really. Richard Parker. You know, Yann Martel, I should have just stopped reading your book at the beginning when it was slow and rather boring and totally believable. But I read too far. So that when it became unbelievable, I still believed you. I knew that you were stringing me along. I knew it was ridiculous. Why are you writing this stupid story line. Why am I reading it?

I told myself that it was just a novel. Fiction. So it didn’t matter. Really. Fiction is just that. Made up stuff that is imaginative and fun. But there’s a line somewhere in there – a rather blurry line. Between believable and unbelievable. It’s OK for science fiction and fantasy to be unbelievable – that is what is expected. There are no rules in that genre. And I guess there are no rules in novels either. But still I hated you for blurring the line and pulling me over it.

There were clues early on. I should have known when you went on about Mr. and Mr. Kumar that the line was blurring. And then when you and your parents simultaneously meet up with your three different religious teachers. It was forgivable. Almost. But when you make the stupid lifeboat, and train the tiger, and go blind and meet another blind man floating in a life boat, and discover the carnivorous island, and finally land in Mexico, it’s too much. And then you tell a parallel story that is also unbelievable. Then I am trying to decide which story is more believable. In the middle of doing this, I realize that you have tricked me again. Like struggling to decide which are more real, ghosts or fairies.

I hate being tricked when I read. It feels like when my brothers would pretend to play hide-and-seek with me and I would hide and they would run off and play. I would sit for an eternity snug in the perfect hiding spot until doubts would cross my mind and I would finally come out only to find that they were sliding down the hay in the hay mount. Betting on how long it would take me to catch on.

Authors should be kinder to their readers. Who wants to read a book that is like one big practical joke? Am I the only one that hated it? I guess not. When I google “I hated the Life of Pi,” I get 3,830,000 hits. When I google Yann Martel, I realize that he is the author of the book and website, “What is Stephen Harper Reading?”. OK, Martel. I forgive you a little bit.

When Martel heard that Stephen Harper’s favourite book was “The Guinness Book of World Records”, he became worried about the state of the prime minister’s mind and decided that he had to do something about that.

For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.

So you have almost completely redeemed yourself in my mind. But I already know that I am not going to read your new book, “Beatrice and Virgil”, which is supposed to be “an astonishing and original new novel.” I bet. And when I learn that the characters in your new novel are a howler monkey and a donkey, I am sure I won’t read it. Let everyone claim that you are “this country’s most interesting and surprising writer”. Author of the “beloved novel”, Life of Pi. I will continue to think of you as a trickster and a liar. And I will be careful to keep the lifeline away from any Richard Parkers who might be lurking around me.

Tags: | Posted in Book Review

One Response to “Lifeline, or I Hated the Life of Pi”

  1. Laura
    March 19th, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Wow, Auntie Becky! That is harsh! I really liked the book when I read it. You really felt tricked? Just curious.

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