Saturday, August 12, 2006

Reader's Diary #137- Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist (FINISHED)

Earlier this year a friend and I went to a bar in St. John's. It was one of those small joints where people go just to have a few drinks and converse. There were only a few of us there that night and we were doing just that. Except for one female patron.

This particular woman was sitting by herself back in a corner with a glass of wine and a book. We stayed for a couple of hours or so and the whole time we were there, she didn't look away from her novel. Needless to say, I was intrigued and maybe it was the Guinness or maybe it was the sour apple martini, but before we left I finally got up the nerve to interupt her reading and find out what book it was. You're probably thinking "big deal" but if you saw how entranced she was, you'd probably think it awfully risky to separate her from her reading, however momentarily.

The book, as you've already guessed, was Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. As I began this book I could quickly see what the attraction was. It began as a fun, fable-esque story. Coelho was quick to draw connections to the Bible and get the feel of a parable across. In doing so, he wasn't quick on giving away any of the book's secrets. From the onset, he makes the reader want to continue in their search for answers (which in turn mirrors Santiago's search for answers). What was his recurring dream? Who is the old king? And so forth.

Unfortunately, towards the end the tale becomes a little too new agey and preachy for my taste. As Coelho rambled incessantly about "personal legends" it became more Celestine Prophecy than Life of Pi.

Still, I can see what held the attention of the mysterious lady in the bar. But I wonder how she felt at the end. Was it worth the effort?


Barbara Bruederlin said...

And of course, I would have to add the question "how was she able to see to read in a darkish pub?", but perhaps that's because I hate the fact that my eyes are aging.

John Mutford said...

Barbara, I love how you threw in the "darkish". I reread my post remembering quite distinctly that the bar was well lit with obnoxious florescent lights and wondering why I had wrote "darkish". Just kidding, your Gestalt mind was right this time around, it was darkish. It didn't occur to me until now that she was able to read in the dark- maybe she was a vampire. It would explain that guy's neck she had attched herself to after she finished reading. Okay, so I made up that part too.

Neil said...

Hey John... interesting blog you have. I enjoy reading (when I have time) and I'm always looking for good books.

I read "The Alchemist" last fall... I didn't really enjoy it or find it as inspiring as many who have read it.

I'll be back sometime. Thanks for visiting my blog, nice to meet you. Bonne Journee. :)

John Mutford said...

Ahh reciprocal commentary, without it where would I be?

Hi Neil, On the back of my copy it says, "Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever." How could anyone trust a book that claims such nonsense? Then again, I also find it hard to trust anyone who claims to have their life altered by a book.

John Mutford said...

Here's a positive review from Katrina.