Monthly Archives: December 2012

Read: Life of Pi by Yann Martel


For me, books always best the movies that are based on them. However, I haven’t seen this one to know for sure.

My copy of Life of Pi is the 2001 paperback version, given to me by my mom when it first came out. I never passed the first twenty pages and have trucked this book–like so many others–around for years. But with the movie now out, it was time for me to finish the read.

The story itself kept me reading, though I am not one for survivalist island tales usually. As a kid, I did enjoy The cay. Pi Patel must persevere after a ship wreck for which he and a few zoo animals are survivors; although it is quickly him and a tiger that remain. A struggle of balance and obtaining resources fills Pi’s time as he hopes and strives for salvation.

All is not as it seems, which calls into question reality versus fantasy especially in a struggle to survive. Survival is the crux of the book, and somewhat faith and belief in God. Interestingly, in the first third, Pi ruminates for a bit on religion and he purposefully practices Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Is this a cop out or an equalizer approach? Also, the portions about his family’s zoo and how the animals are dealt with when the family moves abroad could provide interesting discussion.

Back to the movie version– based on previews, it looks like there is an injected love story with Pi. In the novel, it just focuses on him since his life is at stake and occasionally his family. But Hollywood and especially the majority of American movie goers want love to triumph. Fair enough. If done well, it could add to the story. Now endings usually change and it is likely this one will too but how much will show whether they stay true to the purpose of the book or not. Most, I am guessing, will be the same as the book but how it is handled could vary.

As you might have guessed, I read books before seeing movies and make an effort to separate the two in my mind because they do differ, and usually a lot in key aspects. This will likely be good as a movie, overall.

Recommended?: Maybe. If the premise sounds interesting then yes, read it. However, I don’t this this is one of those universal books that everyone should read. It would be great for a book club, as I already touch on some of the questions and topics that arise for discussion from this book.

Let me know what you think of the movie, especially if you’ve read the book. I’ll probably wait until its out on DVD.



Read: Luka and the fire of life by Salman Rushdie


Staying in the realm of fairy tales, I finished Salman Rushdie’s Luka and the fire of life and loved it! It is a quest story about a young boy entering a magical world inhabited by mythological creatures from all over the world in order to attempt to save his father’s life. Set in the 21st century, Luka’s adventure plays out as a video game, complete with a life counter and save points, which makes this an enjoyable new take on a fairy tale.

I have been lucky enough to see Rushdie speak twice: at Lawrence University when I was a student and a year or so later at ALA in Washington DC. At ALA, after waiting in line to meet him, I got a copy of this book. Ad as you can tell from the picture, it is an advanced uncorrected proof so I am not sure what, if anything changed. When it was my turn at the table with him, rather than get this book signed, I pulled out the copy of Satanic Verses that I was in the middle of reading. For a moment, he was surprised and made a comment about how people are still reading it. But I just smiled and moved on, star-struck, only mentioning that his writing inspires me. I could have said more or articulated myself better but such is life. Still, happiness abounded that Rushdie was impressed that I was reading his seminal work. Plus, just hearing him speak, and twice!, about his life and work made me want to put my own words on the page again.

Back to Luka, Rushdie wrote this story for his second son after the boy asked for his own book since Rushdie wrote Haroun and the sea of stories for his first son. Now this isn’t a little kid’s fairy tale due to its complexities but it could be for an older kid. While I read it to myself, there are lots of quirks and theatrics that should be read aloud for full effect. In that sense, it really is made to be a kid’s fairy tale. But truly the adults will enjoy it more with its vast arrays of mythological and classical character cameos, and of course some newly created characters from Rushdie mixed in. The quest follows Luka as him works his way through nine grueling levels with doubts and triumphs, risks and success along the way. An excellent story for everyone.

Recommended?: Yes, especially if you like mythology and fairy tales. Plus, whether or not you have read Rushdie before, who can be a difficult though enjoyable read, this book is much more accessible and a good taste of how he writes. It is practically a novella 222 pages (Amazon shows 240 for the published version). I can’t wait to re-read this book, but next time Ill get the final version to see how they compare.