Beatrice and Virgil
by Yann Martel

How a monkey and donkey can depict what can possibly be called as one of the world’s biggest atrocities is a fascinating thing. It’s something that I considered of value as far as learning writing techniques are concerned. At first, I did not honestly get where the author was going with Henry’s enchanting and dark relationship with an enigmatic old taxidermist. I thought that it was just another book drama that I have to finish and discard.

Objectively, the book is a non-historical approach on the Holocaust. Personally, it’s a disturbing and brilliant favorite that I’d probably share to a good friend who can handle the bit of violent shock that goes with Martel’s good writing. (I do have a penchant for unusual and disturbing literary things). Whenever a writer or author brings something fresh to my mind, I just have all praises. Given the volume of what’s written out there, both garbage and non-garbage, it pays to have a very unique style that gets noticed in a good way .

I can say that  the last part of this book, the one with Games with Gustav, kind of jolted me into getting to know a very unique, succinct, and affecting writing style. I just find that these days, I tend to be more discriminating with the quality of what I read for leisure or for work because I tend to compare them with countless others that I had a reading experience with. Once you find the really well-written books, it makes it much harder to replicate a pleasurable reading experience because the brilliant authors kind of raises the bar for what makes for a good, five-star book. Similarly, I become more choosy with what I write and how I write them for precisely the same reason.

The really brilliant writers do not just create a diversion or a space filler in their readers’ bookshelves. They create an EXPERIENCE altogether that transcends and flies out of the pages of their creation. And this timelessness is probably why so many people want to write. Everyone wants to have a touch of the immortal, a time capsule of sorts that chronicles that very moment in time where you synthesize everything that you have believed in and everything that you have learned.

What amazed me the most in Martel’s book is that there is not possible way I could have predicted the ending. I literally had to plow through the pages to find how it all ends. Some books have me guessing how it ends, and when I get to guess how it ends, I don’t feel too good reading the rest of the pages and I no longer have a semblance of wanting more. He had this animal thing going even with the more famous Life of Pi.

Recently, I saw a General here at camp reading Life of Pi and he wanted to swap titles with me after! He saw it on my desk last week while I was making maps. And that’s the thing with readers: they can be anybody! I never imagined that a military man will be trading titles with me (a giant duwag girl with nothing but obsession for maps and programming and writing to show for it), but a common appreciation of Martel made it possible. I think that the really good books are bridges for readers’ intellectual discourse. It opens doors for meaningful encounters in as much as it opens the door of one’s reading imagination.

Well, you cannot expect anything less from an author who audaciously named a monkey and donkey after Dante Aliegheri’s celebrated characters in the Divine Comedy. And with his skill with words, I firmly believe that the nomenclature is just a rightful chutzpah to shell out to the world.





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