Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Book for the Wish List/ Life Of Pi Review

I'd like to add "The Ladies Lending Library" by Janice Keefer to my wish list, as it sounds like a book that is right up my alley. Bookish women dealing with a variety of issues with a sense of humor.
I'm reading a book loaned to me by my friend Kathleen, called "I Was Told There'd Be Cake" by Sloane Crosley, and it struck me that everything I was doing yesterday was somehow related to someone who seems to be what Eli Stone calls "A Wackadoo." Not that Kathleen is crazy, actually, far from it, but Crosley's first essay in the book is about her wierd plastic toy pony collection, and the fact that she'd be mortified if anyone found it after her death. I happened to get a package of newspaper clippings from my mother yesterday that were all about how religion is for idiots, a mother in Iowa is getting a new trial after drowning her infant due to postpartum depression (and my mother was solidly in favor of this woman getting out of jail...yikes) and other assorted wierd underlined articles, like one in which an Iowan spent a month or so in Florida and discovered that its a wretched place to live, full of crime, car accidents, monster bugs and unpleasant people (duh, I could have told him that) and that Iowa is so much better for lacking these things. Sheez. Having spent years in Florida, I already know that it isn't a wonderful place to live. I do not need to read about it. Nor do I need to read about women who kill their children (I didn't kill mine, and don't plan on it anytime soon) or religious nutball pharmacists who won't fill prescriptions for birth control, or atheists who snarl and growl about anyone who has any faith at all, lumping the fanatic wierdos in with the rest of us who just want to have a private spiritual life and be left alone. So mom's a total wackadoo, mailing me loads of underlined articles that have me scratching my head, wondering why she'd waste postage on this crap. Then my husband informs me he wants to give our son $10 a week allowance for doing nothing. Huh? When I was a kid and wanted more than a dollar for anything, I had to babysit or work as a CNA to get money. My parents didn't hand me money 'just to get me used to the responsibility' of handling cash. They would have laughed me out of the house had I suggested such a thing. So hubby landed in the wackadoo file yesterday, too.
Then I finished reading Yann Martel's "Life of Pi" which won the Mann Booker Prize a couple of years back. One would think that would guarentee a wackadoo-free read, but one would be wrong.
The book starts out well, delineating the life of a boy who grew up in Pondicherry, India surrounded by his fathers zoo. This boy, Piscene called Pi, decides to take up with the three major religions in town, Hindu, Christianity and Muslim, and believes that they're not mutually exclusive because all point to worship of God. Though this is a bit strange to his parents, who are mostly indifferent to religion, Pi is allowed to do as he pleases as long as he's not hurting anyone. Things go well until the family decides to move to Canada, and take a leaky Japanese ship to get there. The ship sinks, and Pi ends up in the lifeboat with an orangutan,a hyena, a zebra and a 450-pound tiger. Things go downhill from there, and Pi survives by training the tiger, and by fishing for turtles and larger fish to feed the tiger after he has eaten all the other animals aboard. Pi ends up on a carniverous island full of meerkats, and eventually lands on the shores of Mexico, starved and dehydrated after 7 months at sea. Two insurance agents from Japan come to the hospital to see Pi and ask if he can enlighten them as to the cause of the shipwreak. Pi tells them his story, and when they disbelieve him, he tells them the truth, which is grim, horrible and nauseating. We were told earlier in the book that Pi goes to the University in Toronto, marries and has two children and a happy life in Canada, so we know he ends up fine, but what we are not told is how he can live with himself after such a horrific episode of murder and cannibalism that he rationalizes away by making up the story about the animals in the lifeboat. How horrible to end the book in such a fashion, fooling the reader and then leaving them with the ugliness of the real tale as the ending. I can't imagine what the Booker Prize people found to love about this book, enough to reward Martel for writing such grotesque fiction. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Horror fiction doesn't have this much rambling on and on about religion, so it wouldn't even appeal to that crowd.
But it did add another wackadoo to my already wackadoo filled day.

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