happiness. That pressure has given way, in the case of the subsequent generation, to American common sense." The perpetual tensions between cultures, between individual minds, between the mind and the world beyond it, run through this empathetic, beautiful novel. (NO) Life of Pi by Yann Martel Harvest/Harcourt, 2003, 336 pp., $14 (paper) The full-frontal way in which Yann Martel addresses religious faith here will put off some readers immediately, charmed though many of those might be by his deft use of language. "To choose doubt as a way of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation," his young hero argues as, in the book's first hundred pages, he embraces three religions: his native Hinduism, Christianity and finally Islam, offering a precocious fourteen-year-old's theological overview of each. But most of the story is about the protagonist's 227-day survival at sea, and Martel's real concern is not religion but the miracle of life itself. The first manifestation of it that he offers is a writer's miracle: in an author's note that begins the blending of literal and fictive truth that becomes the novel's central paradox, Martel tells of the particular writer's despair of having worked hard
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Sep 6, 2004
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