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Saturday · June 14 2003

With Everyday People out of the way, I was able to start denting the stack of books I bought on friday. Everyday People didn't suck, but it didn't do much for me either. As a character study of a dozen fictional residents of East Liberty, an inner city neighborhood in Pittsburgh, the effort falls flat. I was hoping I would learn something through these people's stories, but O'Nan does very little to breathe life into the characters. Stephanie was very excited about this selection for the book club, and I'm interested to hear exactly why now that I've read it. It was a ho hum read.

Top on the stack of books I wanted to start was The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I'm only about 75 pages in and I'm ready to read everything the author puts out in the future. Zoos and religion aren't normally the sort of material that I'd want to run on quoting, but Martel's storytelling is excellent. I know (via reviews and the blurbs inside) that the really brilliant part of the novel is yet to come -- it involves the boy, Pi, sharing a lifeboat in the Pacific ocean with a tiger -- but I've enjoyed every page so far. A snippet on lion trainers:

As an aside, that is why a circus trainer must always enter the lion ring first, and in full sight of the lions. In doing so, he establishes that the ring is his territory, not theirs, a notion that he reinforces by shouting, by stomping about, by snapping his whip. The lions are impressed. Their disadvantage weighs heavily on them. Notice how they come in: mighty predators though they are, "kings of beasts", they crawl in with their tails low and they keep to the edges of the ring, which is always round so that they have nowhere to hide. They are in the presence of a strongly dominant male, a super-alpha male, and they must submit to his dominance rituals. So they open their jaws wide, they sit up, they jump through paper-covered hoops, they crawl through tubes, they walk backwards, they roll over. "He's a queer one," they think dimly. "Never seen a top lion like him. But he runs a good pride. The larder's always full and -- let's be honest, mates -- his antics keep us busy. Napping all the time does get a bit boring. At least we're not riding bicycles like the brown bears or catching flying plates like the chimps."

Archived: Read » June 2003
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