Yann Martel 2010
An easy read with a simple plot and yet filled with symbolism that quickly unravels at the last intense 40 pages of the story. It is a story of Henry, an author who gets entangled with Henry, a taxidermist, when the latter asks the former to help him finish a play that he is writing about Beatrice, a donkey and Virgil, a monkey.
"As for fame, fame felt nothing. Fame was not a sensation like love or hunger or loneliness, welling from within and invisible to the outside eye. It was rather entirely external, coming from the minds of others."
"A work of art works because it is true, not because it is real."
"A novel is not an entirely unreasonable creation, nor is an essay devoid of imagination. Nor is it how people live. People don't so rigorously separate the imaginative from the rational in their thinking and in their actions. There are truths and there are lies--these are the transcendent categories, in books as in life. The useful division is between the fiction and nonfiction that speaks the truth and the fiction and nonfiction that utters lies."
"The man told Henry that the only native talent needed to play music well was joy."
"In his entirely personal experience of them, English was jazz music, German was classical music, French was ecclesiastical music and Spanish was the music from the streets."
"Because though his novel belonged to his past, it was fresh to every reader who read it and that freshness came through in their letters."
"The animal is lost from us, has been taken out of us. I don't just mean in our city lives. I also mean in nature. You go out there, and they're gone, the ordinary and the unusual, they're two-thirds gone."
"Every animal I have mounted has been an interpretation of the past. I am a historian, dealing with an animal's past; the zookeeper is a politician, dealing with an animal's present; and everyone else is a citizen who must decide on that animal's future."
"Why a monkey and a donkey?... Because monkeys are thought to be clever and nimble, and donkeys are thought to be stubborn and hardworking. Those are the characteristics that animals need to survive. It makes them flexible and resourceful, able to adapt to changing conditions."
"plain truth common nouns"
"Animals have endured for countless thousands of years. They've been confronted by the most adverse environments imaginable and they've adapted, but in a manner absolutely consistent with their natures...It is we who have to change, not they."
Personal note:I picked up this book in Montreal, one of two books written by a Canadian author.I was hopping it was good enough to make it to this blog and it didn't disappoint. I'm starting my own personal tradition during my travels- picking up books as souvenirs.