In the darkness the trees are full of starlight (henwy) wrote,
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight

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Henwy's Book Club

Well, someone congratulate me. I've actually just finished reading a book that is not:

1) Sci-fi/Fantasy or by Bill Bryson


2) Required for School/Work

I can't even think of the last time a book has met that criteria. I almost exclusively read fantasy for pleasure reading and I've never been much interested in whatever is on the NYT bestseller's list or whatever other people are gabbing on about. I think the last book I read before this foray outside of my normal haunts was the Da Vinci Code and I loathed that piece of crap.

Anyway, I digress. The book I just finished is The Life of Pi, which was completely unlike what I thought it was going to be about. I had heard of it somewhere, but, no surprisingly given the title, I thought it was actually a book that was about math in some tangental fashion. It didn't help that for some time I had it mixed up with Proof, a broadway play I had seen a few years ago starring Anne Heche. Suffice it to say that math plays no part in the book other than as the nickname of the protagonist, it's mentioned a few times that pi (3.14) goes on and on as an irrational number with no pattern.

Here's a synopsis:

The peripatetic Pi (ne the much-taunted Piscine) Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive.

What captured me about the book was the statement by one of the characters right near the beginning that this is "a story that will make you believe in God". After finishing it, all I can say is that I have absolutely no clue if it even made an attempt along those lines. Maybe I'm reading too far into it, but I can't even tell if the author is on some level being facitious and actually mocking God and religion. To not spoil the book too much, basically we're given two stories. One being a fanciful tale of zoo animals and odd adventures that explains a 227 day survival at sea. The other, being completely mundane and perhaps more horror-filled for the lack of the fantasy elements that also explains the period of time.

Pi: "So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with the animals or the story without animals?"

O: "That's an interesting question...."

C: "The story with the animals."

O: "Yes. The story with the animals is the better story."

Pi: "Thank you. And so it goes with God."

Now, maybe I'm being nitpicky, but that hardly seems like a good way to argue that one should believe in God. Believe in God simply because it makes for a better story? What sort of crappy logic is that? Anyone else who has read this and wants to toss in their two cents? Did it make you believe in God?
Tags: book club

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