Saturday, November 24, 2012
The Life of Pi
The fate of some books is to be forever defined by where and when we read them. If the location, or perhaps that time in our life ends up being especially significant or memorable, that book will be forever framed by that placement in our life.
I read The Life of Pi on a brief family vacation to a a small island in the Pacific Northwest. We had rented a small cottage, right on the beach for three or four sunny summer days. Idyllic would be an apt description. A private beach for our exclusive use beckoned a short walk away but otherwise there wasn't really that much to do. A few drives on the one road that circumnavigated the island and a trip into what passed for the village centre with a small general store complete with one gas pump left great swaths of time to read, daydream and do nothing. Totally different from some of the vacations I've enjoyed to foreign destinations but special in its own way.
The Life of Pi is another one of those 'high concept' books. As I described the storyline and plot to my family, who often had nothing in particular to do other than listen to me--or perhaps I should say, no escape--the story line seemed incredible to me. At the same time it was different from anything I had read before and so real in its telling that it seemed the author must have been cast adrift in the Pacific Ocean himself with a zebra, orangutan, hyena and, oh, yes, the tiger.
Now that the movie has been released every advertisement seems to call back those hot summer days, the beach, the ocean. the heat-baked grass and azure cornflowers that are entwined in my memory with The Life of Pi.