Friday, November 14, 2008

Tail Enders: Or Why I didn't get Marley & Me

Just finished reading this book: Marley & Me. It is about man and dog -- a fuzzy, warm, soppy 13-year long saga of a mad, slightly psychotic, but ultimately big hearted, happy Labrador Retriever (Marley), the writer (Me) and not to forget, Me's growing family (we live through his wife's four pregnancies).

No, I didn't like the book. It has little tension or drama -- it is like reading a rather entertainingly written daily diary, which ultimately amounts to nothing. We live through one crazed antic of the lab to another. Unfortunately, taken together they never manage to say anything more than the tired "Dog's my best friend" cliche.

My favourite man-animal book is Life of Pi. Now, Martel there, axes the fuzziness of man-animal fiction with one sharp swoop, and gives us a tight-rope tense narrative of a man and a tiger stuck on a boat drifting in the sea. And thank heavens, they DON'T become friends. They remain competitors, with Pi, our hero, at a slight disadvantage of having to come up with schemes to ensure that he doesn't become the meal-of-the-day. Just to ensure that our Disney-fed sensibilities don't go into complete shock, Martel allows Pi and the tiger to begin drawing an uneasy sense of comfort from each other's presence as they drift along. But that is as far as he goes.

I think of Life of Pi whenever life throws a relationship at me that I have to treat with trepidation. Like the one between you and your boss. Now, not all bosses are like Pi's tiger, but a little caution is always better when dealing with them. The difference is that if things get really bad, you can always jump boats.

Update: Oh no! Now Marley & Me is a film.

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