Written earlier in Martel's career, these tales are as moving as they are thought-provoking, as inventive in form as they are timeless in content. They display the startling mix of dazzle and depth that have made Yann Martel an international phenomenon.
©1993, 2004 Yann Martel; (P)2004 HighBridge Company
"These are stunning stories." (Booklist)
"Pathos is leavened with inventiveness and humor in this collection of a novella and three short stories....Richly satisfying." (Publishers Weekly)
"A small masterpiece....A serious and convincing work that demands to be read." (The Guardian [London])
I really loved Martel's "Life of Pi"--a fascinating and engaging story. I had hoped to indulge in more fascinating stories by this promising writer, but evidently he hadn't yet honed his writing skills when he wrote these stories. I found all of the stories in this collection to be tedious and never really leading to an interesting conclusion. The "Helsinki" novella was so depressing, it took real effort to get through it. The "Discordant Violin" story just lacked interest; it was perhaps too ambitious for Martel to try to describe the power of a musical experience in his (here) underdeveloped style, and the way the main character hounded John Morton afterwards was a weak device intended to allow the author to express the anguish of the Viet Nam war second-hand, and it really didn't make any sense to me. "Manners of Dying" was an interesting concept, but I found the repetition of the warden's letters unnecessary and irritating. The continuous "blah, blah, blah" in the background during the "Mirror" story was an especially irritating device, although not completely ineffective.
If you read "Life of Pi", quit while you're ahead. If you didn't, make sure to read it, because Martel really made a lot of progress beyond this book. I wouldn't recommend this book, however.
I Listened to these short stories a while ago and had to write a review when I read the previous 3 opinions! I find Yann Martels subject matter challenging to listen to - these short stories are also challenging subjects but wonderfully written and well worth a listen. They are thought provoking and a welcome change to much of the happy ever after literature that we have access too. Please give them a try.
"Life of Pi" is one of my favorite books of all time. I listened to it twice. The reader is outstanding. So, while I knew this would be completely different I was hoping to like it at least half as much. I just could not get drawn in. I could not finish it. (I hate not finishing books).
The author of these four stories is the same author of Life of Pi, and Beatrice and Virgil, both very good books. This book has 4 stories, two of which I enjoy and two others that were so, so. If you are looking for a short book, this book would be OK. Don't expect the same kind of writing he did on his two books I mentioned early. The last story I did chuckled a lot.
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