Life of Pi may have had mixed reviews but it sure starts conversations. I’ve heard ‘Brilliant’ to ‘You wha’?’ and everything in between. There’s ‘Loved the book, hated the film,’ and – more unusually – the opposite. I’m in the ‘brilliant’ camp on both counts: I loved the book and found, for once, that the film enriched it.
Maybe it didn’t jingle your bells. Maybe it was all too unclear. What actually happened and what did Pi make up? Were there animals or people on the boat? How could African meerkats live on a carnivorous island in the Pacific? Why all the religion at the beginning?
All that confusion – most unsatisfying. It takes the ground from under your feet and sets you adrift in a little boat on a choppy ocean, going who knows where, with danger and beauty staring you in the face … hey, hello life.
While a few things might be sure – the sun will rise, leaves will fall and the teacher will turn round the minute you stick out your tongue – mostly you have to fill in the gaps, write your own story to navigate between little islands of fact.
And that’s the beauty of stories: we take from them what we will, which is what makes them such fun to write. I’ve had so many responses to Dead Hairy – funny, mystery, adventure, family fun, quirky – the book speaks differently to everyone.
So was there a tiger on the boat, or just Pi behaving tigerishly to avenge the death of his mother? Take your pick. You can have a story that’s brutal, rational and what-you-see-is-what-you-gettical, or a tale of challenge, heroism and faith. Hey, hello life.