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5.0 out of 5 stars Art Imitates Life
Yann Martel has taken the sophmore jinx tiger by the tale (sic) and followed up his popular, award winning novel Life of Pi with a multi-layered masterpiece. The book is unconventional in its structure (starting with the dual sided cover, reflecting the duality of fact and fiction), and tells a very simple story, albeit one with multiple threads (for movie buffs, a bit...
Published on April 3 2011 by Ian Robertson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Delicious word play but disappointing emotional journey
I'm writing this review mostly from the emotional perspective since I don't think myself an expert on literature. I listened to the audio book version, the narration was top notch. There are some wonderful phrases and delicious word play that makes my brain light up (eg: the description of a pear).

As the novel carries on, the subject matter gets insufferably...
Published on March 25 2012 by Chingers


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Delicious word play but disappointing emotional journey, March 25 2012
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I'm writing this review mostly from the emotional perspective since I don't think myself an expert on literature. I listened to the audio book version, the narration was top notch. There are some wonderful phrases and delicious word play that makes my brain light up (eg: the description of a pear).

As the novel carries on, the subject matter gets insufferably heavy. Granted,the Holocaust is not a light subject, but I thought Martel's approach of story telling would soften the naked cruelty and explore human nature behind the act. Not so. I adored the manner with which Martel described a pear, but I definitely didn't appreciate the same approach when describing torture! I had to skip that chapter entirely, it was too much to take.

If Martel's aim was to traumatize his readers with words, congratulations to him, that's what my reaction was.

For successful examples of story telling approach to the Holocaust, read Anne Michael's Fugitive Pieces or watch Pan's Labyrinth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., May 30 2011
By 
Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I generally avoid reading or watching anything that vividly portrays the Holocaust; the subject horrifies, disturbs and leaves my mind full of images I can't shake. I did, however, eagerly await Yann Martel's Beatrice & Virgil, both because of all the hype surrounding it and because I remember enjoying Life of Pi. What I appreciated most about this short novel was its mixture of genres: part autobiography, part fiction; a play within a novel; an existential work and an assertion of faith. It is indeed an allegory, one that sometimes reads too much like Beckett but also one that uniquely grows from a light-hearted fable into harrowing dialogue, culminating in unexpected chaos. The book is not action-packed, not a page-turner and not even entirely comprehensible. It does, however, question the authenticity of history, the value of art and the eternal prevalence of doubt: "To my mind, faith is like being in the sun. When you are in the sun, can you avoid creating a shadow? Can you shake that area of darkness that clings to you, always shaped like you, as if constantly to remind you of yourself?"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Art Imitates Life, April 3 2011
By 
Ian Robertson (West Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
Yann Martel has taken the sophmore jinx tiger by the tale (sic) and followed up his popular, award winning novel Life of Pi with a multi-layered masterpiece. The book is unconventional in its structure (starting with the dual sided cover, reflecting the duality of fact and fiction), and tells a very simple story, albeit one with multiple threads (for movie buffs, a bit like Tarantino's movie Pulp Fiction, but without the violence).

Parallels with the author's own life are evident from the start, with the protagonist - an author - trying to follow up his immensely popular earlier novel with an unconventionally structured (and dual covered) book about the Holocaust. The parallels then start layering, like Russian nesting dolls. The author (the one in the book) receives a cryptic message asking for help from another author - a playwright, actually - with the same first name, Henry, and the dayjob of taxidermist.

The taxidermist requests Henry's help finishing his play, which is about two stuffed animals, a donkey (Beatrice) and a howler monkey (Virgil). Beatrice and Virgil's dialogue in the play is very plain, about mundane topics such as the nature of a pear. Their dialogue, much like in Beckett's Waiting for Godot, is about much more than the apparent topic, referencing past literature and reflecting the authors' relationship with each other. As the book unfolds, the various parallels become more evident, and the book finishes by tying the various threads together in a natural, tight conclusion. The writing is, of course, much richer than this simple plot summary can convey, and readers will appreciate Yartel's clever execution. I found myself smiling numerous times throughout the story.

The self-referencial nature of the book has many antecedents, from Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman to Hunter S. Thompson's many works, and although some may find the structure a bit precious, Martel pulls it off very well. A thoroughly enjoyable, quick read, that will leave you wanting to discuss it over pi (sic).
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4.0 out of 5 stars I know the novel got pretty panned by critics when it came out, Jan. 14 2015
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Paperback)
I didn't really know what to expect. I know the novel got pretty panned by critics when it came out. I'm not even sure why I picked it up - I wasn't that much of a fan of Life of Pi, which I thought was too contrived. And then it took me awhile to warm up to this novel, which starts a bit too randomly, a bit too cute, a bit too cloyingly, and somewhere near the middle I was starting to lose patience. But then it picks up again. The end, the games for Gustav, were some of the most troubling things I have ever read. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just in that sort of dug into your soul way. If it weren't for the last twenty of so pages, I think I would have rated this far lower, maybe 2, 2.5? And you need the rest of the novel to get to the last twenty pages.

Pleasantly surprised I guess is the more concise way to put it. I was pleasantly surprised.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars sadly disappointing, May 26 2010
By 
A. Houston (BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I bought this as an e-book from [...](first mistake) to read on my recent vacation(second mistake) The e-version(no fault of the author)had the font that was meant to be scenes from the play(the story within the story) so small it was illegible no matter how large I set the font on my iPod. That was frustrating and distracting. Aside from that, the book flowed well and I was forced to keep reading it to its end. And, it being a Yann Martel, it had to have a redeeming feature right? Wrong. Although I was moved by the message(ie the horrors we humans inflict on each other, and on the whole of the animal kingdom)I was oddly let down, and felt disappointed, depressed and saddened by the end of the novel. To get myself out of my V&B induced funk (it was the beginning of my vacation, after all), I reread The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society followed by another reread,Life of Pi both of which I loved the first time, and even more this time round. Life of Pi especially, was excellent and even though there was violence and gore, it was tempered by gentle humor. Virgil and Beatrice contained not even an iota of humor that I could detect, and probably, given the subject, it would have been inappropriate. So, gentle reader, beware, if you are expecting another Life of Pi, don't look for it here. This book probably has great deal of literary merit, but for me, a moderately educated professional female who reads to be entertained and/or enlightened, this just didn't cut it.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding, April 19 2010
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I came into book with lofty expectations; everything Yann Martel has written thus far has moved me immensely, and I was sure this book would be no different. I was right.
I'm not going to say much in this review except what is important - that is, after all, Martel's philosophy.
The novel starts out as an account of a writer - that bears remarkable resemblance to Yann Martel, of course - who has written a novel, and failed. The writer, named Henry, moves with his wife to an unnamed city, where he takes up the clarinet, joins a theater group, and makes friends with an old, scary-looking taxidermist. This is where the story gets interesting.
Beatrice and Virgil does not have much action; like the play discussed at the heart of the novel, it is about conversation, and daily life. But the book is not without focus... and in this case, that focus is the holocaust.
You will not regret buying this book; Martel truly transcends the words he writes down; pages do not limit his genius.

Here's a quote (don't read it if yer worried about reading stuff that's deep in the book ahead of time)
"To my mind, faith is like being in the sun. When you are in the sun, can you avoid creating a shadow? Can you shake that area of darkness that clings to you, always shaped like you, as if constantly to remind you of yourself? You can't. This shadow is doubt. And it goes wherever you go as long as you stay in the sun. And who wouldn't want to be in the sun?"
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2.0 out of 5 stars Yann... what happened to you???, March 19 2013
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This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
After the magic that was "Life of Pi"... I found it difficult to understand how this book came from the same imagination. Rabid fans of "Pi"... neither my Mother nor I could finish "B & V"... finding it cruel & really disturbing. It's not that we mind being disturbed in the name of literature exactly... but oh, it must be well written to be willingly absorbed. Sadly, for us, this novel hasn't fulfilled Martel's promise. However, after the miracle of his first book... we will both try again with the next one.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations, April 26 2010
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I think there was too much hype surrounding this book and I will admit that I had some high expectations based on the phenomenal work that was Life of Pi. In my opinion this book falls short, the writing too simple, uninteresting detail, droning on and on. In a word, boring. The few poignant concepts explored in this book could have been done in a short essay instead of a full novel. I feel as though Martel had a difficult thing he wanted to address (the Holocaust) and had this idea to include talking, feeling animals (Beatrice and Virgil) but instead of the creative genius we saw in Pi, he just pieced this together haphazardly, almost as a way to just "get another book out". I do not feel that this book encouraged the holocaust to be viewed in a new light or from a new perspective. I believe Martel is a good writer and will continue to give his work a chance, however this particular book fell short. Not to mention it was exorbitantly priced in book stores both in the US and Canada (more affordable here on Amazon, I see).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Vivid yet slow, Oct. 3 2012
Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil is a novel told from a novel point of view. Its parable handling of the Holocaust was interesting, as was the framing of the story itself. It is vivid, yet slow. It focuses on description and development of the four main characters. The story is well constructed, though the ending is perhaps a bit weak.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as 'Life of Pi', Jan. 24 2015
By 
Amazon Customer (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I love Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' and he has waited too long to write this, his following book. But I find that it was not as engaging as 'Life of Pi'. Maybe comparing the next book after a really, really, great one is not fair because if I read this first I may have liked it more, but I can't help the comparison.
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Beatrice & Virgil
Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel (Hardcover - April 6 2010)
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