“Life of Pi” is so beautifully written, that I was halfway through the book before I realized that Martel’s masterpiece is in fact, fictitious. According to Los Angeles Times, this book is “a story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction.” Wow. Thank you Los Angeles! Way to ruin it. Until that point, I had devoured every last detail, and accepted it without question. I was really quite disappointed in the world when I learned that Pi and his adventure are not real. I liked to think that there was someone out there who loved every religion, and made them all a big part of his life, while most pious people can only handle one religion. I thought Pi’s open heart and ready mind was inspiring, as well as what he survives later in the story. I desperately wanted it all to be real, and I was never going to doubt its credibility until my mother brought up the subject and felt inclined to dash my faith in humanity.
I think the part of the book that really made me believe it was the introduction, which is from the perspective of the author and tells the story of how he found Pi. I’m pretty sure it is cheating to lie during the introduction. Introductions are not supposed to be part of the story; they are supposed to be real, and boring and scholarly. If Martel wanted to start the story before chapter one, I’m pretty sure that is what people call a ‘Prologue’ not an ‘Introduction.’ So he was sneaky. I think Martel wants readers to believe in Pi’s adventure, and he accomplished exactly that.
After I was finished feeling betrayed I realized how genius Martel is. The story he told is entirely fictitious, but I hung onto every single word. I think it was all of those little details that most writers never even know about their characters that convinced me. Those little things like the three religions, a name like Piscine Molitor Patel, and the nickname that resulted. They are so outrageous, that I thought that they could be nothing but the truth. Even though it is a fictional work, it is funny how much it tells us about the crazy and real world around us. I beg to disagree with the Los Angeles Times, because this book does not make me “believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction” but “the soul-sustaining power of” reality. I am sure that I was not the only one who believed that the story was true, and it shows us that even though this adventure did not happen to Pi, everyone can see it happening. We wouldn’t put it past fate, or destiny, or chance or whatever you’d like to blame it on, to set a little boy adrift with a tiger. (Oops… spoiler alert) I also learned that “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to more than just the cover art, but to the reviews and summaries on the back cover. In my mind, I would have never categorized this book as fiction, as the Los Angeles Times did, and I also would have NEVER given “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” a good review, like its back cover did. (you knew it had to be referenced at least once.)