Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Book Information
Martel, Yann. (2010). Toronto: Knopf Canada.

Readers who enjoyed the spare existentialism of Samuel Becket's Waiting for Godot or the animal symbolism of Yann Martel's Life of Pi may wish to take a look at Beatrice and Virgil.

The novel focuses on two stories. The first story is of Henry, the author who helps a strange taxidermist to write a play. Much of the novel centres on Virgil and Beatrice, a donkey and a howler monkey who have lived through unspeakable tragedies.

As noted in the Toronto Star book review by Geoff Pevere, this novel is broken up and the pieces do not easily work in a whole. However, Yann Martel provides a fresh perspective on survival and on tragedy through two surprisingly understandable animals.

My Notes
I have mixed feelings for this book. The English student part of me loved all the talk about the process of writing. Martel also captured Becket's style. Sometimes, however, I wished that the issues dealt with by Beatrice and Virgil were approached with more realistically and with less existentialism.

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