- the vivid and sometimes disturbing descriptions of cruelty to zoo animals and the scene with the hyena eating the zebra alive
- the humorous look at religion and the "truth" behind Pi's unusual religious beliefs
- we did not agree with Pi's statement that the story makes people believe in God
- the idea that all Pi's life experiences prepared him to survive on the boat - we admired the author's skill in weaving in seemingly insignificant bits of info from Pi's life at the zoo into his survival later on
- the idea of truth at the end of the book, how it's sometimes more difficult to believe things that we don't like, and the malleability of truth
First, the author was almost sued for plagiarism for allegedly copying his idea from the book Max and the Cats (by Moacyr Scliar). After the two authors spoke to each other, the charges were dropped. So I decided to read Scliar's book for myself to see if they are similar at all. I must say, it was a bit hard to find, but I did get a copy. It's a VERY short book and an easy read. On the whole, the book isn't that great. It has an interesting story but the characters are pretty shallow because of the brevity of the book and it has a rather odd ending. The middle section finds the protagonist, Max, stranded aboard a lifeboat with a Jaguar for a while. That is the extent of the similarities between this book and Life of Pi.
Second, during our meeting Steph expressed absolute horror at the description of the way that the hyena took days to devour the zebra, who was basically eaten alive. I brushed off this section as not particularly disturbing, saying that the descriptions of what people did to some of the animals at the zoo bothered me much more. Steph was shocked at this. She had a really hard time reading the hyena/zebra section and was extremely bothered that I was NOT bothered by this. We didn't really get a chance to finish this part of the discussion so I want to revisit it here. Yes, I found this section disturbing to read, but only because I don't like imagining animals and people in pain. However, I also realize that situations like this happen often in the wild. Predators rarely kill their prey before they start to eat them; as long at the prey is incapacitated and not able to get away, the predator will start to eat. So because I know this, I skimmed through the hyena/zebra scene without much thought. However, I did NOT realize all the incredibly cruel things that people do to zoo animals, and I expect much more from people in the way of good behavior than I do from animals. I found it horrifying to read about the pain people inflict merely for their own enjoyment. So Steph, I hope that clarifies my statement for you. :)
Seven people attended the meeting, including our newest member, Joan. Six of us read the book and rated as follows: 5x2, 7x2 and 8x2. The official rating was: 6.7.