Sometimes I put a book on my “to read” list and then I don’t get around to it for years. Now, if the movie happens to come out before I read the book, I might make time to read the book before I see the movie. This is what happened with Life of Pi. In fact, my husband and son saw the movie in the theater before I even knew there was a movie of it. But they liked it enough that they would watch it with me again, so I set out to read the book.
I bought Life of Pi on audiobook. My husband, John, didn’t think the story would be as good in the book because “the imagery in the movie is just incredible.” That’s when the experiment took place. I was halfway through the book when we started our 10 hour drive towards vacation. In our vehicle, the driver gets to choose the entertainment, so I chose my audiobook. The language was suitable for our almost-six year old and they both already knew how the story ended.
JT liked hearing the story. And he had questions about some of the words in the story (he’s a vocabulary nut) and what was happening at any given point. He also giggled at talk of “poop” like any healthy boy would. John practically writhed in pain at having to listen to a story instead of music on a road trip. In fact, he opted to drive rather than listen to my story for much of the trip.
I finished the book halfway through the vacation, so we rented the movie. I liked the movie, it was good. The imagery captured Pi’s imagination and fascination with the world around him. But I felt like it left out a lot of the mind games that occurred on that boat.
On the other hand, I asked John what he thought of the book compared to the movie. He said the book had a lot of details, but he thought the movie told the story just as well. He had no desire to hear any more of the book than the couple chapters we covered in the car.
Just as well??? I do not believe it. Maybe it’s a difference between the two of us. I’m a much more visual person. Give me words and I turn them into pictures in my mind. So perhaps, I don’t have any trouble creating those amazing visuals for myself.
John’s take on books is that if he spends multiple hours reading a book and it has an ending he doesn’t like, he feels like it has been a waste of a lot of time. With a movie, you’re only ever committed for two hours. So if you don’t like the ending, oh well, only two hours lost. When we saw Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the movie theater, he liked the story so well that he went and bought the book. He binge-read it and then bought and devoured the next two books in the series. Once he knew the ending was palatable, he was all in for more of the story. (As a side note, you won’t be getting a review of that book from me because I was horrified by the movie. I didn’t unclench for HOURS after watching it.)
As much as I wanted to be a family that shares audio stories on road trips, we probably will not be. But we were able to share Life of Pi. The tiger, Richard Parker, is part of our everyday conversations now. While discussing parenting children who like to live on the edge, John said, “I’m into feeding a goat to Peter Parker to show my son that danger is real and lives are lost when you live too close to the edge.” JT and I looked confused… “Peter Parker? You’d feed a live goat to Spiderman?”
Since I didn’t have an actual picture of the book to share with you, I asked JT to draw a scene from Life of Pi. He chose the scene where Pi establishes his alpha role over Richard Parker. Here he is screaming and raising the hook at the tiger: