Life of Pi

Life of Pi - Yann Martel I wanted to like this book because everyone liked it and because I am excited about the movie. It's supposed to be so good, but it just didn't work for me. In fact, I came away from it irritated and frustrated, but after talking about it with someone who liked it, I think I can see why other people might have liked it.I didn't finish the book, although I do now know about the twist ending. I didn't enjoy reading it: I didn't love Martel's prose, and I didn't find much to like in Pi. The passage about the way he feel in love with the different religions was great, but the rest of what I read was tedious. The swimming pools were so tedious! I knew I had to get to the boat (because of the cover illustration), but even once I got there I was bored. I gave up at the first really gory scene, although I now understand that more came later, and they were worse. For me, it just wasn't worth it to force myself though those scenes because my enjoyment was so low.So, what about the book's central idea, that when offered the choice between a beautiful story and the ugly facts, only those with no appreciation of beauty would choose the ugly facts? Problematic. First of all, I don't agree with the book's position that religion is reality retold as a beautiful story, and I think most people of faith would object to that. Martel thinks he is discussing the role of religion in our existence, but he is really discussing the role of fiction. He seems to confuse religion and fiction, but they are not the same thing, though they do occasionally have beautiful and moving stories in common.Secondly, the book posits most of its ideas in very flawed ways. Other reviewers have pointed out how Pi misrepresents atheism, offensively simplifies Islam, and ignores Judaism and Buddhism. He also suggests that agnostics lack imagination and so they miss the whole story of existence. Obviously, this belief itself lacks imagination, which is not just disappointing but also a bit hypocritical in someone who is supposed to be so open-minded that he can love many ways of seeing the world.I can see now that for the sake of the book's greater message, Pi needed to believe that fiction is a better choice than reality, and if you're going to conflate religion and fiction, you end up having to say that agnosticism is a lesser viewpoint. But, again, that's just a misunderstanding. And if Pi is wrong about religion (although he might have an argument to make about fiction), and the book is an argument for religion, what is the value of the book? Some people will enjoy the book either because of the plot (although it's not a very good adventure novel) or because they enjoy the questions it raises. For me, it was too flawed, both as an argument and as a novel, to recommend.