Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why I Love Yann Martel

Hey there, I was just reading The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, a short story collection written by the author of some of my favourite books, Life of Pi, and Self, and I realizes something. I freakin' love Yann Martel! The man is a great author from top to bottom and I also realized that I haven't done a "Why I Love..." in a long time, so allow me to resurrect an old stalwart here. So allow me to discuss why I love a fabulous author.

1. Unique Ideas -- Really, a son of a zoo keeper being stuck on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger? I can't say that I've ever known anyone who has thought of that one. The title story in The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios is about a man visiting his friend in the hospital who is dying of AIDS, the two of them decide to spend the time writing a story about a family that lives in Helsinki, starting in 1901, and progressing by a year with each installment. But the key is that the story has to have some connection to a historical event, no matter how grand or mundane that takes place during the year. Can't say I've ever had an idea like that...

2. Mastering First Person Narrative -- All of his books are written from the first person perspective. While that point of view can sometimes get troubling, Mr. Martel does a fantastic job of developing his narrators thoroughly and giving them a ton of depth, which brings me too...

3. Poetic Introspection -- I think that this is the only way that I can describe some of the amazing words that he uses to describe the narrators feelings. Including my personal favourite quote from Self, when he remembers the time he first fell in love as a very young boy by saying "Love is the insomnia that wakes you from the sleep of life". Could you describe it better?

4. The Bilingual Dialogue in Self -- I know this will only mean something to people who have read this book, but during many of the conversations, he divides the page into tow columns and puts the dialogue in English and/or French and/or Spanish to show that the character is trilingual. Later on, when he is in a group of people who speak different languages and the narrator is speaking back to them in one of their languages, during this part he puts the narrators speech (in the language) on the left column and the other language (Magyar and Czech are the first ones that I remember) on the left column. It's a cool way to demonstrate linguistic difficulty.

5. This Passage that I Read Today --
"Durable optimism can be the product of only on thing, reason. Any optimism that is unreasonable is bound to be dashed by reality and result in even more unhappiness. Optimism, therefore, must be girded by reason, so that pessimism becomes a foolish, short-sighted attitude. What this means-reasonableness being the inglorious, tepid thing it is-is that optimism can arise only from small, nearly ridiculous, but undeniable achievements."

I've always considered myself a super optimist. I'm glad that someone other there doesn't think that I'm crazy for it.

6. Canadiana -- Sure being Canadian doesn't automatically make him a great author, but it doesn't hurt now does it?

That's about all I've got for now, I really encourage some of you to grab any of Yann Martel's books. You won't be disappointed!!

Until next time,


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