First Lines: Life of Pi

Here be spoilers.

The author’s note of Life of Pie Yann Martel sets the book up as not only a true story, but also as a story which will make you believe in God.

First, we get the introductory setup, where we learn about how Piscine Molitor Patel came to be known as Pi Patel, how he came to be a Buddhist, a Christian and a Muslim all at the same time, and why he ended up in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Then, we get the story which makes Life of Pi that book about a boy, a boat and a tiger.

Finally, when he has survived his ordeal and made it to the shore, he gets questioned by two Japanese officials about the sinking of the ship that left him stranded. They don’t believe the story with the tiger, and press on. He then gives them another account: the “true story” featuring a cannibalistic cook, his mother, and a badly hurt sailor. Martell then plays the cards that will make you believe in God:

“I told you two stories that account for the 227 days in between.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Neither explains the sinking of the Tsimtsum.”
“That’s right.”
“Neither makes a factual difference to you.”
“That’s true.”
“You can’t prove which story is true and which is not. You must take my word for it.”
“I guess so.”
“In both stories the ship sinks, my entire family dies, and I suffer.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”
Mr. Okamoto: “That’s an interesting question …”
Mr. Chiba: “The story with animals.”
Mr. Okamoto: “Yes. The story with animals is the better story.”
Pi Patel: “Thank you. And so it goes with God.”

All things being equal, people prefer the better story. And so it goes with God.

I didn’t buy that either.

I much prefer an earlier sentiment by Pi: Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.

Book read
Yann Martel — Life of Pi
First line
My suffering left me sad and gloomy.