Recently, I read the Life of Pi — the story of a young Indian boy who is the lone survivor of a shipwreck. Stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger for nearly a year, it is an amazing (fictional) story of survival in such a bizarre circumstance. Having grown up in a zoo (the reason the animals were on the boat that sank), Pi knows how to handle animals though survival on a boat with a tiger would still be unlikely. The writer manages to make a real and interesting story of how Pi lives, eats and interacts with the Tiger. There are also some brutal killing scenes in beginning with a couple other animals that were stranded on the boat. This is the second book I’ve read recently that revolves around the humanity of certain animals so I’ve come to see them in a new light. I’ve never considered myself an animal person — certainly I’ve always hated cats and liked dogs only when they were calm and one at a time. It has been enlightening to think of animals more as friends and family after reading about them in this way (as in “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”)
Through Pi’s struggle to survive — his will to do so seemingly based on his belief in three religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism) — you see the mental, emotional and physical strength one would need to get three even a few mights at sea. I though the religious aspect was quite disconnected though. The author emphasized the uniqueness of his beliefs in the beginning of the book but I saw no real connection to the rest of the book. To me, it was almost like Pi’s “religion” became nothing but the religion of survival, though his written schedule did include five rounds of prayers per day.
The most interesting part of the book was when Pi encounters a free floating algae-like island filled with some kind of aquatic meerkats. To think of an island untouched by human hands floating aimlessly in the middle of the Pacific ocean is incredible. Are there such places in the world? I was reminded so much of the movie “Castaway” and of course a little of “Lost.” The concept of a deserted island, a shipwreck, a plane crash, being lost in this big world — yet so small in the meaning of the solar system — is mindboggling and fascinating.
We knew that Pi would find land eventually but how had me turning the pages past my bed time. Finally, when the boat runs into Mexican land after nearly 300 days at sea, we are relieved but saddened. You’ll have to read to find out why. At this point, Pi had given up real hope — and knowing his entire family had drowned already — he figured he might as well. All being said, I enjoyed reading the book if only because I’m fascinated by the book’s lost at sea concept — similar to my strange obsession with time travel. Which reminds me, I really need to buy a copy of “Back to the Future” — it’s just soooo good.