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Life of Pi, by Yann Martel


Richard Parker has stayed with me. I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.

A good friend of mine recommended me to read this book a while back, being mostly a popular science and science fiction reader, I reluctantly pick up the book after the repeated mention and urging. The story was better than what I had ever expected.

Life of Pi is a story about a young Indian boy’s survival across the vast pacific ocean on a life boat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Rules of nature ran its course and pretty soon there was only the tiger and Pi. Both of them survived for 227 days together before being rescued with Pi using his wits and vast knowledge on animals, being the son of a zookeeper.

The story is seperated into three parts. First was the childhood of Pi revolving around his strange religious behaviour (being a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian all at the same time) and his young life revolving around the family’s zoo in Pondicherry, a small area in southern India.

Life of Pi, by Yann MartelThe family then decided to migrate to Canada together with some of the animals on a cargo ship, which brings us to the second part of the story: the sea survival. This part makes up the bulk of the book while not being draggy. Though we know that Pi will survive at the end, the story still moves with good pace with Pi overcoming each challenges brought upon him with the presence of Richard Parker, the weather, the food supply, and so forth.

The relatively short last part detailed Pi’s interview with the Japanese authority regarding his survival story. Pi then told them two versions of the story, one being the fascinating but at times unbelievable survival tale with the tiger, while the other version without the tiger but with the horror of human cruelty in desperate survival situation. The author then left us with our own decision to choose which story is to believe.

Life of Pi is one of those stories that will leave you thinking after you finish the novel. A departure from the lesser stories such as that controversy book about code breaking and Christianity, or the next legal thriller from Grisham.

A group in UK has made this story into a successful play, and the the movie is scheduled for 2007. I can’t wait.

My other book reviews.

Author: Yann Martel
ISBN: 0156027321

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


2. It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’s house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallen over. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a pretty interesting book if just for the fact that the chapters numbers are in prime (hence started with 2) and it comes with cute little graphics to go with the story. Like this picture of aliens:

curious spaceship

The story is written as the first person account of a 15 year old boy, Christopher who suffers from Asperger Syndrome trying to investigate the killing or the neighbour’s dog, Wellington. The investigation of Wellington’s death led him to a bigger secret about his family and eventually an adventure of his own.

The book puts us in the mind of Christopher that works on pure logic and very little understanding of human emotions. He is some sort of a mathematic savant and has an excellent memory.

My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things, like the conversations I have written down in this book, and what people were wearing, and what they smelled like, because my memory has a smelltrack which is like a soundtrack.

There are many pages that are funny, and there are parts that details the cruelty of human nature. This is one of the more fascinating books I’ve read as of late, you can certainly go through the 240 pages in a couple sittings. If you are too cheap to buy, click on the link above for the electronic version, have fun!

Author: Mark Haddon
ISBN: 0385512104

A Painted House by John Grisham

A Painted House is a vastly different work from the usual John Grisham courtroom dramas. This is a story about a 7 year old farm boy, Luke growing up in rural Arkansas, detailing everything that happened in a few short months.

It was the cotton harvest season of 1952, Luke stayed with his grandpa, grandma, mom, and dad on the farm. For the harvest, they acquired help from a hill family and a bunch of Mexicans. Other characters include the poor Latcher family, Luke’s friend Dewayne, and the grocery store owners Pop and Pearl.

The story never strayed from Luke, it was told as a commentary of his life. Luke had to endure a lot of secrets, two killings, a forbidden love affair between the Mexican and the hill girl Tally, the secrets between Luke and Tally, and the fatherless baby from the Latcher family.

You will undoubtedly start rooting for Luke as the pages go by. The book speaks of both the good and the evil, and gives a very vivid and beliveable life of rural Arkansas in the 50s.

This is one of the better books I’ve read, certainly the best from John Grisham. Pick it up if you have the chance, or you can go to the link above and read through the computer screen, PDA, cellphone, whatever..

Have fun! The other book review by yours truely – Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Though this blog might suggest that I am all about eating, yours truely is actually quite an avid book reader too. Surprising now isn’t it? Learn something new everyday, don’t we? So here’s my very first book review, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (ISBN – 0553562614). I’ll try to have any spoilers.

Snow Crash, with kenneth posing
from now on, this is how I document who borrowed my books

The setting is the near future of US, or what’s remain of the land that was once called the United States of America. There are interesting concepts that are borrowed from current trends projected a couple dozen years into the future, with appropriate exaggeration and a very strong hint of sacarsm, these includes ultra fast pizza deliveries, parcel services, autonomous city-states in franchise style setup, and so on.

In the alternate reality there is the Metaverse, a kinda MMORPG type of universe that anyone can hang around with an avatar, where rules of physics do not confine anyone with an avatar in it. Center to the story is a virus called Snow Crash that acts both in the metaverse and in reality.

The characters include a katana carrying hacker, named Hiro Protagonist (really), a young girl, YT (Yours Truely), and a host of other interesting characters, such as Raven, who has a nuclear weapon he carries around everywhere, Enzo the head of mafia, Mr. Lee, who owns the Greater Hong Kong franchise, Bob Rife the proprieter of a converted aircraft carrier, and the Rat Thing (a type of cyborg dog) and it’s inventer Ng.

If all these characters sound interesting, it is because they are. You’ll have to read the book to figure out how they fit together in the story. Be aware that as with most cyberpunk, the language can be harsh, and there is one sex scene that might not be appropriate for the overly inhibited individuals.

All in all, this is an excellent book if you are into scifi, especially the cyberpunk genre. Check out other titles by Neal Stephenson too, I have read Diamond Age, and currently finishing Cryptonomicon, a 900+ page story. So far I have found the author to be excellent, the three books are very different from each other in terms of settings and writing style, but yet equally engaging, entertaining, and thought provoking.

Books, Reviews