Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pondering on Life of Pi and Others

After reading a recent review of Life of Pi on The Complete Booker, I have been pondering memorable books in general and Booker winners in particular. I remembered that I really loved Life of Pi while I read it. I thought it was an incredible book. But I also realized that it is a novel that did not stick with me. I never find myself thinking about it, much as I loved it at the time. On the other hand, there are plenty of books that did not pack the same wallop, but I dwell on them for years after -- for example, Last Orders by Graham Swift (1996 Booker winner): Or, The Old Devils by Kinglsley Amis (1986 Booker winner): Why is this? Why do some books linger, while others might pop, but then fade?


  1. That's a good question, and I'm pretty sure I don't have a good answer for it. The funny thing about it, for me, is that sometimes the books that really stick with me, that really make me think long after I've finished reading them are books that I didn't particularly like in the first place while I seem to quickly forget a lot of the books I have loved. For example, I read the The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty last summer and I really just didn't enjoy it - the characters' behavior was reprehensible, the loose ends of the story weren't all tied up, but something about it kept me thinking about it long after I'd turned the last page. Same with House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus. If you ask me, I'll say I hated it, but it kept me thinking, too - it frustrated me, but I remember it like I just read it because it made me think and really provoked a reaction in me (even though it wasn't a positive one). I think maybe it has to do with how the authors chose to depict people and situations how they really are that struck me and got into my head and made me think despite the fact that the situations I was reading about were often frustrating and unpleasant (like life often is!).

    How would you answer your own question? What made Last Orders and The Old Devils stick with you while Life of Pi didn't? I have two of them on my TBR pile so I'd definitely be interested to know!

  2. So interesting! There are a couple of books that I really disliked while reading, but that have stuck with me. For example, I can't get Vernon God Little out of my head, no matter how I try. And I can remember so many details from The Magus even though it is my least favorite book ever.

    As for Last Orders and The Old Devils, I think those stick with me because they are my favorite kind of stories -- groups of friends, growing older, looking back at how their lives have intertwined through the years. Neither was a rollicking read, but the themes appeal to me, so the stories linger.

  3. I wrote a long comment but it got deleted...oops.

    That's a great question. I hadn't realized I'd done the same thing. I read Life of Pi and thought it was a great book; then I haven't thought about it really at all until I saw the title of your post.

    I have no answers.


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