Today novelist Yann Martel posted a piece of fan mail he received from President Barack Obama. The president wrote: “My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book–an elegant proof of God and the power of storytelling.”
If there was a way of tattooing it on my back, I would. What amazes me is the gratuity of it. As you would know, there is a large measure of calculation in what public figures do. But here, what does he gain? I’m not a US citizen. In no way can I be of help to President Obama. Clearly he did it for personal reasons, as a reader and as a father. And in two lines, what an insightful analysis of Life of Pi.
The blog What Is Stephen Harper Reading has a nice scan of the (handwritten!) note. But to me, the best part of this story is that Obama is reading this book with his daughter. What’s better than a Reader-in-Chief? A Reader-in-Chief — or any parent, really — who passes on a love of reading to the next generation.