Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil

Ok, I have to confess it right here and now: I have not read Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  So I had no expectations for Beatrice and Virgil (also by Martle) when it was chosen by my book group for our August meeting.  Sad to say, that after reading Beatrice and Virgil, I am still no closer to wanting to read Life of Pi.

Beatrice and Virgil is a very interesting book, in that there is so much to ponder and discover.  I am sure that if I read it over and over, I would find more.  I think that there are many layers to the story.  My simple version of the story is that it appears to be an allegory for the Holocaust. 

from the front inside cover:
"Fate takes many forms...When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist.  As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler money-named Beatrice and Virgil-and the epic journey they undertake together."
Henry is an author who is working on a "flip book" about the Holocaust and the publishers are not interested in his book.  One day he recieved a large envelope with a copy of a short story by Gustave Flaubert, "The Legend of Saint Julian Hospitator."  Parts of the story were high-lighted.  Also in the envelope were papers clipped together that seemed to be parts of a play about Beatrice and Virgil-a donkey and a monkey.  There was also a note, asking for help.

Henry tracks down the sender of the envelope and finds an older man who has a taxidermist shop.  Thus Henry's adventures begin.

For me, the most interesting part of the book were the last few pages where "Games for Gustav" are.  I found them profound, disturbing and very moving.  I will list the first one for you.  There are 13 of them. 

Game Number One:
"Your ten-year-old son is speaking to you.  He says he has found a way of obtaining some potatoes to feed your starving family.  If he is caught, he will be killed.  Do you let him go?"
And they get harder than that as they go along. 

I know that this is not much of a review for the book.  I just found it too complicated and confusing to try to tell much of the story.  Do I recommend the book to readers?  No, I can't think of anyone that I would recommend this book to.  However, I am glad that I read it.  It certainly made me think.

No comments: