The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (Book Review)

January 24, 2009

The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, Yann Martel, 1993, republished 2005 by Harvest Books.

The important part of the above information is the “republished 2005” part. The Life of Pi came out in 2001, and it’s success is surely the reason this story collection was republished. It’s not that these stories are bad. But they’re also not the sorts of stories that would cause readers to clamor for a reprinting. Martel says the title story “was inspired by the death of a friend from AIDS,” and while it is at times a moving and thought provoking piece (the insertions of bits of history are by far the best part), it often smacks of catharsis. And I won’t stand for catharsis.

The other stories are ok, but they are what they are: stories published about eight years before this writer hit his stride. The Life of Pi is one of my favorite books (it’s on my top ten list). This is one of the reasons I dislike the question “who are your favorite authors?” How many authors are so consistently good that they can produce good book after good book? I’d guess somewhere around 1%. Maybe people have a problem with the idea that a generally “ok” writer can produce an incredible work, a “great” work. I don’t have a problem with it.

I run into the same problem with my next review, Ann Patchett’s Run.

–Toby

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One Response to “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (Book Review)”


  1. […] like my last review, this is a book written by an author who wrote one of my top-10 favorite books of all time (in this […]


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