25 April 2009

Paolo Coelho: I Don't Get It

I was wandering down Oxford Street today and I passed by Borders. Wondering what the big bad chain was up to these days I popped in for a stickybeak.

Apparently still catering to the lowest common denominator.

The shelves which house the staff picks were astoundingly mediocre: Lisa Jewell... Maeve Binchy... Jeffrey Archer. There was of course the compulsory Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (there's always at least one staff member who dreams of an orgy of drugs and alcohol whilst driving across America in a convertible.)

However, what distressed me more than the staff picks was the large bay of shelves dedicated to Paolo Coelho's novels. In case you're not sure who that is, he wrote The Alchemist which was a memorable fable told in a beautiful way. It's often a good pick if you need an extra text for English during the HSC.

However, as beautiful as the story is, the writing is very simple. This works for the mystical fable and thoughtful message of The Alchemist, but doesn't translate well for the rest of his writing. The novels are so simply written that they are BORING. It's like listening to a three year old struggling to articulate a thought. You know where they're going but you don't want to jump in and finish the sentence for them because that would be mean and unproductive towards their mental health, so you let them struggle on whilst internally you're screaming in frustration. Then, when said three year old finally makes his point, he repeats it 18 times to make sure you get it.

That's what reading Coelho is like. Brida in particular (his latest) is painful. The New York Times commented that: "Coelho is a novelist who writes in a universal language."

Yah- the language of MEH.
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