By writing 'Life of Pi', I think Yann Martel has set a benchmark so high that it frightens me. And I'm just a reader. In fact, I am even wary of picking up Beatrice and Virgil, Martel's second book. What if it isn't as good? What if I am not astounded and rendered speechless with every paragraph? What if I don't want to commit every page to memory? What if I don't end the book with this queasy, stunned sense of beauty that I ended Life of Pi with? What if Beatrice and Virgil, unlike Life of Pi, doesn't 'happen to me' as tremendously? What then?
Reviews of Beatrice and Virgil are less enthusiastic than his first work. NY Times calls it a rushed description of 'postmodernism' (or something like that). It's described as being too clever, having narratives within narratives, lots of references to Nazi history (the plot does revolve around the Holocaust), etc.
So while Life of Pi would touch and move just about everyone, we aren't quite sure how many readers would actually finish reading Beatrice and Virgil, leave alone understand or appreciate it.
But these reviews mean nothing. They said the same thing, heck they always say the same thing, about everything that Salman Rushdie writes. But Rushdie just floats away on his magic carpet of genius anyway.
Also, a friend had recommended Yann Martel's blog where I found a lovely sentiment (http://www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca/about/). I also found a reason to straighten my back and say, "Okay, Mr. Martel. I will read you again."
The phrase: Life, it seems, favours moments of stillness to appear on the edges of our perception and whisper to us, “Here I am. What do you think?”