Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was quite a bit of heavy treading but was highly satisfying. The work is actually 3 books in one: (1) a book on philosophy in general and Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality in particular (2) an autobiography of the author’s past (life) (3) a pleasant motorcycle journey across America.

The book is a non-fictional account of the author’s journey on a bike with his son. Passages of the bike travel are very interesting to read and are filled with details about the people they meet, the places they visit and intimate details about maintaining a motorbike. Interspersed among these passages is the author’s introduction to philosophy. At first it is general, but later as he starts to speak about Phaedrus and his journey through science/philosophy and his discovery of Quality. Slowly you realize Phaedrus is not another character, but it was the author himself in his past.

The book is a good read. I do not think I could have survived the philosophy in this book had not it been mashed up with analogies to bikes, places and travel. Though I got the gist of Quality, I never got around to understanding its importance.

Life Of Pi

Life Of Pi

Rating: 4/4 (Recommended read)

Life Of Pi, a book by Yann Martel is the story of a boy, Pi Patel who is stranded on a lifeboat along with a Royal Bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan. He was travelling to Canada with his family, when their ill-fated ship sinks leaving him in this predicament. How he survives from being eaten by the tiger and survives death on his fascinating voyage across the Pacific Ocean is the story. However, there is another thread underneath this story that is for the reader to discover in his mind. 🙂

The prose though pretty long drawn at the beginning, gets very interesting after the sea adventure begins. The survival of Pi on the seas with the tiger (Richard Parker) is well fleshed out. Pi’s Crusoesque voyage and survival forms an interesting tale. But at the end, the narrator (Pi himself) presents an alternate look at the story and gives you the option to choose the one you want. That is when I realized that the story is not really a story at all! It can be seen at many levels with many meanings. And that is when I really liked Life Of Pi.

I first heard of this book after it won the 2002 Man Booker Prize and after that almost everyone I know read it. However, I got really interested after I heard that Night Shyamalan was making a movie on it. This must be familiar territory to him since the entire story takes on a whole new meaning once an alternate interpretation is hinted. Brilliant read, recommended.

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