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The Life of Pi

 
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Lakritz



Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 120
Location: Birmingham, UK (via Essen, Germany)

PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:08 am    Post subject: The Life of Pi Reply with quote

Your brief:

- Read by September, 21st.
- Come up with a dish/menu inspired by the reading experience
- Start discussing
(book and dishes..., don't know yet whether we have to do this together or separately...)

(If you do indeed cook/prepare it, maybe we can have photos? Some help required here, I think!!)

I think I'll also create a poll for the book, so that we can rate it out of 10.


And here are some questions you might want to ask while reading/upon finishing the book. (No pressure!) Wink

1) First impression: Did you like the story? Why/why not? What did you like/dislike about it?

2) Which themes/issues are being explored in the story? Are they worth exploring? Is the author trying to make a point? If yes, which?

3) How did you feel about the characters? Did you empathise with them? Did you understand their motivation? If not, what was the effect? (Did it impair your enjoyment? Did it emphasize themes/issues?) Were the characters well drawn or did they remain one-dimensional? (If the latter, was this the intention? Why?)

4) Which quality does the language have?
How well does the choice of language succeed in creating an atmosphere? Does it match the theme/issues?

5) From which perspective/point of view is the story told?
Why, in your opinion, was the story told from this perspective, and does it work?

6) How is the plot constructed?
Why, in your opinion, was the story told like this, and does it work?

7) Are there any inconsistencies? (e.g. psychological sketching; plot development/construction) Are they intended? If yes, what is their meaning?

8.) Did the themes/issues and their treatment give you food for thought?

9) Is there a social critical element? If yes, which attitudes are being criticised? How convincing is the criticism?

10) Was there anything that struck you as particularly original (e.g. style/structure/narrator/protagonists/point of view/mood)?

11) Did the book leave you with unanswered questions? If yes, which? Do you think this was intended by the author?

12) What was your favourite/least favourite aspect?

13) Overall, how would you rate this book (out of 10)?


Have fun!!!
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yep...I see order there!....given that I'm married to Siegfried...I know order when I see it Wink

a great list...and a big thank you..methinks this is the start of yet another wonderful aspect of chocolateandzucchini

the world seems to be our oyster..there, a Life of Pi themed quote!
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Lakritz



Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 120
Location: Birmingham, UK (via Essen, Germany)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi every1!
Just a gentle reminder that today was our deadline for the book!

Unfortunately, I have to admit that I haven't quite finished it Embarassed (which in itself would not keep me from'moderating' a discussion...), but worse than that, I'm rushed off my feet with visiting schools and verbal and non-verbal reasoning (and generally worrying about my son's education and cursing myself for letting him watch so much tv, etc, pp), plus: I've foolishly signed myself up not only for EBBP2 (and the contents of my cupboard No 1 are now occupying my dinner table), for which I have to conjure up something fruity and autumnal (& include sth from the back of my cupboard...), AND the C&Z Secret Santa, and of course, there's the BOOK INSPIRED FOOD!!
All of which wouldn't be quite such a problem if I had a working oven by now, or if at least my bread maker worked...
(Madam: I had to laugh at your comment...)

And anyway, right at the moment, I should finish the writing of the childhood meme I've been tagged for, which I would do if it weren't high time to cook something for my kids...

SO, BIG SIGH, if you'd like to start discussing, please go right ahead - anyone, anything, right here. I'll pop in asap and as often as possible to comment.

For the food ideas, I'm starting a separate thread.
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll start! I didn't read the book. My name is on the top of the list at my local library for when it is returned by the person who borrowed it last. It was due back on 21st August and every week I have checked with my library. It still hasn't been returned and the library don't seem interested in following it up. I think they like the extra income they make from the fines for late returns. At $35 to buy the book I decided to let this one pass. I do look forward to the discussion and hearing others opinions.
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Last edited by Barbara on Thu Sep 22, 2005 3:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lakritz



Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 120
Location: Birmingham, UK (via Essen, Germany)

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Barbara, that's awful! That's a full month!

And don't they 'source' other libraries? That's what they do here - in Birmingham at least. And why is it so expensive? It's £7.99 here. Is it still only out in hard back??

Well, let's hope the other 'club members' have had more luck.
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Karen Weena



Joined: 19 Jul 2005
Posts: 26
Location: Makati City, Philippines

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one's starting....and I'm not about to be the first Laughing

Maybe we should extend the deadline? I've read the book , but only because I've already finished it before it was voted on.
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Mishka



Joined: 19 Apr 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Malaysia

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've bought the book about 4 months back but it is still sitting new on my bookshelf... haven't got time to get to it since I'm still going through my earlier purchases.

Any possibility we can extend the deadline?
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Lakritz



Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 120
Location: Birmingham, UK (via Essen, Germany)

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there!

I'm very glad you've voiced your opinions.

For starters - I am not going to start off with my assessment,

a) because I'm supposed to be the 'moderator' or 'facilitator'
b) because when I criticise a book, I tend to really criticise it... (if you know what I mean...)

I'd much rather have people just start on one aspect (why I liked it/didn't like it, for instance) and then take it from there. (I hope I didn't put everyone off with my list...)

But yes, it would help if everyone who expressed an interest had read it. Maybe I should have been more didactic and ascertained half way through how everyone was doing. It's absolutely no problem to extend the deadline if that's what is required.

I should also give you the following link:http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides3/life_of_pi1.asp

Please keep writing in to let me know where you're at. Razz
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm more than a little swamped myself, but I did read the book so I'll at least get out on the dance floor to see if anyone wants to join me.

I really enjoyed the book. It's good story telling and the author had a drole, ironic way of putting things. (Wish I could think of an example now. I read it as soon as it was selected and my Alzheimer's is already kicking in...)

Part of what was amusing is selecting this particular book for a food blog with the idea of proposing menu items inspired by the book. The choice, I think, is pretty clear: sashimi. I mean, I'd like to be a bit more inspired or original but the choice seems rather inevitable. Wink

Another thing that seems ironic, at this point, is that in the intervening time the concern for the New Orleans Audubon Zoo intruded. Not nearly so "amusing" as considering a small boy adrift in a small boat with a tiger when real live people had to contend with similar life and death issues. Rolling Eyes

Perhaps what struck me most was the introduction or early chapter when the author relates how he dealt with his frustrations with writing. I loved the image of sending his manuscript off to an imaginary address with an invented return address. A bit like Pi stuck at the mercy of the Fates not able to go forward or back. I enjoyed that more than the ending which was cute but a bit too abrupt and, for some reason, required a lot more willingness to accept the premise than the whole fanciful, unlikely story. I don't understand that even as I'm writing it but that's how it struck me.

All told, I enjoyed the book so much I put it in the backpack I carry everywhere with the intention of reading it again. So far I haven't but I know I will. Pi was a charming and resourceful character even if he did seem to know an awful lot more than a small boy of 11 (or 14 or whatever it was) would.
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Pockymonkey



Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 63
Location: Northfield, MN

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll join Rainey in adding some initial thoughts on the book (though full disclosure: it's been a while since I've read it too).

I really enjoyed this story. I picked it up before it was selected for this discussion, and read it through pretty much in one sitting. Loved the imaginative story and the characterization of Pi, especially the part of the story in which he celebrates the good in different religious traditions (in this day and age, having an individual or character in a book recognize that the religious traditions of others contain beautiful, powerful messages is a nice thing).

I'm curious to know what others thought of the ending and the two versions of the "truth". I had a conversation with a friend who loved the story overall but thought that the ending (when the "realistic" narrative is told) devalued the whole tale because this wonderful, engaging adventure was stripped of all the magic and instead, the reader is confronted with a much more believable (but more horrible, in a way) story. Her attitude was that there was no way the version with the animals could possibly be true ("it's too unbelievable.")

I, on the other hand, see the two versions of the story as a choice, and that the reader can make the choice as s/he sees fit. And that the choice you make says something about your own outlook and philosophy of life. I, for one, choose to believe in tigers and floating islands - not because I think it's more logical and therefore, more possible, but because I want to believe that events transpired that way and because it allows me to retain a belief that life can be magical and weird and fantastic.

Anyway, those are my initial reactions. Not to say the book doesn't have some weaknesses, but overall, I really loved it.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm shocked that I forgot how wonderfully Pi integrated belief systems and how steadfast he was about not being forced into a single proscribed set of beliefs. I guess those principles could hold true for integrating his two stories as well.

As to stretching the bonds of credibility, the author (is it Yann Martel?) did an excellent job of providing enough plausible explanations to give one "cover" to believe a young boy could stay alive along with a starving tiger. I marveled as each element of "storytelling" or interesting fact was woven into the whole. I have an element of pleasure in watching all these strands become a whole that's quite separate from the narrative, the adventure or the wordsmithing itself.

There is a lot in this book that I know will be richer on a second reading. As primal as the life/death, preditor/prey, master/dominated dynamics are, there's a lot more that's purely, I mean PURELY, abstract (like the concept of "pi" or the comparative religious themes you reminded me of) that I expect to be highlighted by a second reading.

Lovely to get your perspectives, Pockymonkey.
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Pockymonkey



Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 63
Location: Northfield, MN

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
how wonderfully Pi integrated belief systems and how steadfast he was about not being forced into a single proscribed set of beliefs. I guess those principles could hold true for integrating his two stories as well


Rainey, this is a fantastic way to think about the relationship of the two endings - thank you!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. This story is full of cognitive dissonance and difficult & forced resolutions. But the marvelous thing is it works.

One of the things I need to re-explore in light of the ultimate revelation is where Pi, a gentle soul with such an open heart, found that aggressive primal beast within himself equal to the physical and, as we discover, psychic brutality of that episode in his life. More astounding, where did it go in his later life?

The central promise of the story that launches the author into the investigation of Pi was that he would come to believe in god. Did the story do that for anyone? I'm not a believer and found nothing in the story that changed my mind at all. Nothing seemed beneath or above human nature and the randomness of life. Is there something I missed?
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey wrote:
The central promise of the story that launches the author into the investigation of Pi was that he would come to believe in god.


Sounds similar to the writer Lewis Carol. I think he wrote assuming he would become a believer. Any references to Clarence Darrow by chance? Just thinking maybe the author shared some of Darrow's indifference to religion and the bourgeois. Also sounds like this Pi character has some traits like Dostoyevsky's character protagonist in The Idiot.\

I was wondering Rainey where you have been hiding.
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