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#STBooks: The Life of Pi for the Life of a Reading, Writing Mom by Casey B Dolan

Life of PiAn Appetite for PeasBy Casey B Dolan for The Sunday Times

There is no doubt that I am a bookaholic, but since I have become a mom, I have found myself floundering for a spare moment between toilet training and snot-wiping to get through a few pages of – well, almost anything really – without snoring by page six. On top of this I seem unable to complete my own manuscript which is constantly flailing around the two hundred page mark. If I can’t write them, then, I simply have to make time to read them.

I scanned my bookshelf in the hope of picking out a riveting read, only to find my collection has largely been replaced by Splat-the-Cat and Who’s Afraid of the Dark? Books I have not only finished comfortably before snoring, but have had the sheer joy of reading and rereading and rereading… ad infinitum.

Finally, after much searching, I unearthed Yann Martel’s Man Booker prize-winning The Life of Pi. I was elated, but for only a second, as I realised that no one would believe that I had cherished this book long before Ang Lee turned it into a silver-screen blockbuster. But I did. I swear. Upon its publication I devoured it in just a single sitting (yes, I was single at the time, how did you guess?). Maybe I am a sap, but I cried in all the right places, and some of the wrong ones too, amazed by the story of Piscine ‘Pi’ Patel, the only survivor of a shipwreck. With nothing but a makeshift raft, which he had to share with a savage tiger he named “Richard Parker”, he survived stormy seas and eventually made his way to land. The story held me as captive as the boy on the boat.

The Life of Pi has a brilliance and timelessness to it, and I was excited at the idea of rereading it, but before I could open it I had to separate my son from my ferocious Siamese. They take immense pleasure in baiting each other, something that usually ends in blood – and it’s never the cat’s. I considered, briefly, floating a small raft out onto the swimming pool and leaving the two of them to sort out their issues. If it worked for Pi and Richard it could work for my pair, couldn’t it?

Finally, with cat and son safely in time-out (on dry land) I turned my attention back to The Life of Pi. I did, of course, see the film but although the movie is excellent, brilliant even, it never moved me quite as deeply as this extraordinary piece of writing.

On second thought, listening to the caterwauling of both my time-out prisoners, I think I am going to hijack that small raft and head off to the harbour with my Boerbull instead. I could take along my never-ending manuscript and chew on that for sustenance. Abandoning my household to face stormy seas, violent seasickness and possible death seems like a holiday at this point. I may even get the chance to reread Yann’s masterpiece before throwing myself overboard for a well-earned extensive nap.

Casey B Dolan’s debut book is An Appetite for Peas (Kwela)

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