So last weekend I took the Travelling Suitcase Library to the LS6 Beer Festival, which was amazing. On the Saturday the lovely hosts Left Bank (you guys rock!) donated the rest of their World Book Night copies of Life of Pi and The Reluctant Fundamentalist to the Suitcase. Life of Pi is the gazillion copy best seller, Booker Prize Winner and general save-the-publishing-industry-er of 2001/02 which everyone was going on and on about for years when I was at Uni but to my shame I have never read.
So despite my TBR mountain being now over a thousand books high I nabbed myself a copy, thinking, hell, it’s 300 pages and everyon loves it, I’ll get this done in a couple of days! No worries!
A week later…
It’s not that this is a bad book. Far from it. It’s witty and laugh out loud funny in places. Imaginative and entertaining, the concept is genious and structurally it is sound.
It’s just so endless. Here come the spoilers people….
….the first part set in the zoo was great, really enjoyed. Felt I learnt a lot about animals (though not as much as My Family and Other Animals which is about a billion times better) and the boy-with-a-thousand-religions thing was quite good. The writing style is extremly accessible, but makes you think you’re being really clever at the same time (probably accounts for it’s massive success, in that it’s not that taxing, but looks like it is. Ooo did I just say that? What a cow bag).
Then the bit on the boat with the tiger. First thing that pissed me off. The Richard Parker gag. Oh ha ha ha how hilariously witty, to have a tiger with a human name. How inciteful and yet down to Earth this book actually is. I shall proudly display my reading of it on the tube, therefore indicating to others how marvellous and cultured I actually am.
Sorry but that’s bollocks. Even if you did have a tiger called Richard Parker, you wouldn’t constantly refer to him as Richard Parker unless you were one of those meeee intellectual types that reads a lot of William Burroughs and somehow makes them think they’re better than me when in the real world they couldn’t hold a conversation. And that is what pissed me off about this book. Pi. He’s a dick. And being stranded for seven months somehow managed to turn him into even more of a dick.
AND the ending massively pissed me off. Is this the real story or just the preferred one you’d like to hear because YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH. Oh fuck off with your pop pyschology and give me a PLOT!!!!!
Basically, this is going straight back in the suitcase. I wish they would stop giving Bookers to books that flatter our minds into thinking they’re cleverer than they actually are and instead award books that are actually good. “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things” by Jon McGregor, one of the affecting books I’ve ever read, was on the Booker longlist in 2002. I’d recommend that over Life of Pi any day of the week.
If you want your brain to be questioned and turned in a billion ways, read some Umberto Eco, some Ayn Rand, even Roald Dahl has made me question my beliefs more than this book.
Sorry for pissing on something that has brought millions into reading for pleasure for often the first time-which is of course a Very Good Thing, but I thought it was bollocks.