17 January, 2010

The Alchemist

The Alchemist


Paolo Coelho

Yes. Well. The thing is, i don't like books like this, books with a message that is the sole purpose of the book, books that are supposed to inspire the reader to action, books that say that it's better to take a leap into the unknown than to be stable and secure, books that aim to change the reader's behaviour and don't bother to disguise that fact. And yet, to a degree, i did enjoy this. It is written very simply, in the style of Saint Exubery's Little Prince; maybe that is some of the appeal. The story is simple: It is a retelling of the search for treasure which ends up back at home where the true treasure is. In my background the locations are East Anglia, London Bridge, and East Anglia again. Here, the protagonist starts in Spain, goes to the pyramids, and returns to his home church where a treasure awaits him. The scoop here is that he picks up much wisdom ~ and the reader is supposed to along with him ~ in the journeying. All right, but it is heavy-handed, as these books almost can't help being. Why not be blatant about it and admit you're writing a self-help book? Because those have a different market; and because these things sell ~ God knows why, but they do. This is supposed to be one of the most successful books of the last decade or two. It's OK. Perhaps i needed to hear its message at the time i read it. It is not, however, ever going to be one of my favourite books, or styles.

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