Saturday, September 17, 2011


Notes on Life of Pi by Yann Martel (read about 6 years ago, listened to this last week):

My husband hates my conversation style (as tangential as the day is long), but it occured to me that my conversational style is a direct reflection of my thought processes. When I talk with someone I force them down one detour after another with questions and subsequent comments on how this relates to something that I am familiar with. I do it for understanding and interaction—much like I interact with movies, hollering at 'em and such, I involve myself in a conversation through my own contributions. It takes me and my companion down some pretty out-of-the-way trails, but I learn things as we go (per my questions) and that puts me in a place of understanding.

Aparently, I do this with more than just conversing. I do it when I listen. I relate things to me. For example, I listened to Martel's the description of Orange Juice the orangutan and realized that I am the same size as a zoo-fed female orangutan. That seems like a pretty big simian to me. And a full-grown male tiger weighs about the same as my husband's motorcycle. Heavy tiger.

Yann Martel is a master of adjectives. Adjectives are hairy, scary things. For fluid writing it's best to try to avoid them altogether, instead making use of active verbs, so that when you do use 'em they're effective. Martel's writing demonstrates this perfectly. His adjective/noun marriages are the happy kind, the kind that celebrate golden anniversaries. I'd give you some examples, but when I'm listening to a book I'm driving, and jotting down great adjective usage seems to be a needless risk on the road.

Punctuation is a gift. The reader, Jeff Woodman, that does Life of Pi is damned good. Skilled. And I think that the terrific audiobook experience is a result of another great marriage—this one between an attentive narrator and great writing. I can hear the punctuation in his reading—abrupt stops, continuations. Without precise punctuation I don't think this dude's skill could be showcased to its fullest. This book allows us to have the best audio experience because it gives the reader a whole lot to work with.

Reading (listening to) this book as a vegetarian is a much different experience than reading it as an omnivore. I've acquired a weak stomach and pathetic tear ducts over the last five years. Even though I know Pi needs the food to live, I still drive around with saucer eyes as I listen. Ick. Sad. Just power through. You can do it! Hold it together, Romo! Keep on listening . . . 


My25Cents said...

I'm completely following you through your first bullet. Unfortunately, my seemingly aimless wanderings lose quite a few of those that wish to participate in what I refer to as "fluffy marshmallow conversation." I abhor pointless conversing. Gimme something to chew on people--otherwise, let's part ways and call it good. Add to the mix that many of my private, mental 'listening detours' occur through numbers and colors-and it ends up taking me some time to process how I might feel about something in particular. Okay. That may have been TMI. Hmph.

I guess it was just nice to feel as though there was someone else... sniff.

Megan said...

I'm into solidarity lately myself. I like talking with people like you--people who don't have an all-too-linear thought process. Colors and numbers sound quite nice, actually.