4 Following

The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

A Self-Conscious Examination Of Storytelling

Life of Pi - Yann Martel, Jeff Woodman, Alexander Marshall

When a zoo in Pondicherry, India, run by Pi Patel's father, has to close, Pi sets out with his family and many of the animals to travel to Canada by boat. En route, the boat sinks and Pi ends up sharing a lifeboat with a fully-grown Bengal tiger.

He survives because he manages to train the tiger into accepting his dominance and because he sets territorial limits within the lifeboat which the tiger is reluctant to transcend.

This is one of those novels that self-consciously examines the processes of story-telling and belief so it's not clear how reliable the narrator is or what really happened to him. The pleasure is in the personality of the narrator, his commentary on human and animal behaviour, the book's gentle but sometimes telling humour and the teasing uncertainty that surrounds the whole story.

It's certainly an audacious premise and I can see why the book appeals to many people, and why it has become a huge best-seller, though not why it won the Booker Prize. I just don't think it's substantial enough for that accolade.

There's a lot of repetition, a lot of apostrophizing and, towards the end, it seems to me that the narrative gets stretched more and more thinly. I started out enjoying the journey but the more I read, the less engaged I became.