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Posts Tagged ‘Paulo Coelho’

The Winner Stands Alone – Paulo Coelho

Set on the backdrop of Cannes film festival, “The Winner Stands Alone ” is Paulo’s latest offering for you, which might take you by surprise both with a smile and a frown.For those who love Paulo’s exclusive style might end up being disappointed.But for others it is definitely a decent , quick read. Spanning 24 hours during the Cannes Film Festival, this scintillating novel is about a wealthy Russian businessman Igor Malev, who’s obsessed with his ex-wife, Ewa, now married to a fashion designer Hamid Hussain. Igor turns into a serial killer to get Ewa’s attention. No one suspects him as Igor targets a street vendor, an influential movie distributor, a distresses woman and a big-name actor in amazingly sophisticated manner. In order to draw Ewa’s attention, Igor sends her messages saying ”he has destroyed worlds for her” but fails to draw her attention until they meet at a gala supper. In the midst of all these Paulo gives a good overview of what has sadly become a universal truth – the celebrity, fame and the perceived glory of the ‘Superclass’. Coelho takes Cannes as an alibi to comment on the elite’s elite, the rich and the famous, their lives,agony and a very superficial lifestyle. In short a tale about an rich man , committing few murders to win his lost love along with a host of other characters, their lives, dreams and fantasies, all in the city of Cannes.
Am at a fix. . I actually don’t believe that I have just finished a Paulo Coelho novel. I will not say this novel doesn’t have anything good about it, but it certainly doesn’t match the standards Coelho has set for himself..I always felt the magic of Coelho’s novels lies in its characterisation, but unfortunately this novel looses out on its characterisation the most. Too many characters that did not add any positive impact to the plot. In fact I found them absolutely insignificant. I completely failed to understand why the author introduced so many characters in the novel. And since each character had a story in itself it did make the story very dragging at times.He tried to tell a lot of things through each one but failed to make a point with anyone.My disappointment lies in the fact that I always rooted for Paulo’s characterisation.Perhaps his men and women were always people whom I could identify myself with. But unfortunately in this novel, he fails miserably with his players. Most of them are stereotypes and the only intriguing character who could probably hold your interest is Igor. Sadly his portrayal is so half hearted that even though he is the protagonist you still don’t look forward to any of his encounters with the other characters. Igor justifies that everything is fair in love even if it boils down to killing people. Coelho hints that Igor’s “dual” character is like the one in modern society, in that it can be rational and objective on the one hand (as a businessman), and wildly illogical on the other. A successful businessman on one hand and an insane lover on the other, Igor could have been little more interesting unlike its cold and unidimensional portrayal.
I wanted to call this novel a psychological thriller but choose against it. When I began reading I actually expected a lot of twists and turns with mysteries and surprises. But to my utter dismay nothing of this sort unfolded. It was as simple as that, a man trying to win back his wife’s attention by killing host of people around him…I wonder how on earth one can justify this…! The book was generally just very negative, which is very unlike Coelho. He made it seem that everyone is unhappy, and there is no way that anyone at any position or situation or lifestyle can ever achieve true happiness. Everyone was miserable in the book, the businessman, the writer,the actors, the directors, the distributors, the journalists, and models, the assistants, the police officers, and the general public.In general too, there is not a single character you feel for. This is because they are just too typically portrayed, devoid of any depth or imagination.
With Paulo, you expect him to tell a story, pause and pop up some enlightening profound thoughts.That’s exactly what he did here, his usual mysticism and spirituality boosts the plot to some extent but sadly doesn’t make any difference to the stotyline as such. I miss the optimism of Coelho all along this novel which I look for. And at the end all, we are left to ponder with some cold blooded murders and a very very predictable ending which actually leaves you with no other choice than to feel absolutely disappointed.
All I would like to console myself thinking that this time Paulo attempted something different, detached from his usual style of writing, both in terms of subject and technique. Perhaps something he wanted to do for a long time, take a detour from his usual writing. Fair enough, though I would prefer him to be little more careful while venturing into this kinda literature .
Well, this novel though made me sad, will certainly not stop me from reading and reviewing his other works.I will look forward for them with even more zeal as am expecting a complete soul stirrer next time. But for now, with ”The Winner Stands Alone”, Paulo does stand alone, not sure though if as a winner !!!!
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By The River Piedra I sat Down And Wept – Paulo Coelho

Spirituality, Mysticism, Optimism and Love. thy name is Paulo Coelho. After I finished reading ‘The Alchemist’ , my expectations from ” By the River Piedra I sat Down and wept…” was high and I was surely not disappointed. I could sense the same aroma of Paulo’s brilliance as I did with ‘The Alchemist’. The only difference I believe is , this novel rides high on religion.

A tale of two lovers, “By the River Piedra…….” is a beautifully crafted love story, blended with composed actions,exotic locations, powerful characters and mesmerising folklore which certainly makes it an inspiring journey. Pilar, a student in the town of Zaragoza was suffocated with her daily life until she encounters her childhood friend whom she knew since her early days in a Spanish village Soria. The plot unfolds dramatically when Pilar realises that her friend has now become a renowned spiritual leader, which embraces femininity of God – paganism (Great Mother), the ancient fertility goddess, the Virgin Mary. And not only that ,her friend has the power to work miracles as well. Meanwhile, Pilar receives an invitation from hes friend for a spiritual event in Madrid where she is faced with a blunt truth- her friend’s love for her which he harnessed right from their childhood. And as he leads her on a magical journey through the French Pyrenees,which includes stays at hostels and visits to churches and chapels, the two find themselves at the monastery at Piedra where the two had spent time as young kids.It is here Pilar begins to realize that this chance encounter is
going to transform her life forever and that her friend must ultimately choose the path of his own life, his love or his spiritual journey.

At this juncture, Paulo subtly introduces ” the other” !!! A conflict we all have within ourselves and deal with as human beings.The part of our own psyche, the confusion, sense of denial, the fear and host of other emotions that prevents us from achieving what we aim for.Just like the fear of failure in “The Alchemist” prevents us from acheiving our goal…”I am afraid that great disappointments waits me, so I prefer to dream..”. In the same way the fear of rejection prevents lovers from expressing their feelings, their love. Pilar wonders and worries, as a result of the existence of ‘the Other’ that lives within her, what will happen to the love that she has for her friend and vice verse.

The magic of Paulo’s novels lies in his characterisation…so real …so down to earth. The moment you hit the first two pages you tend to flow with the characters and actually start living their lives. The characters and situations are so well crafted that you reach to another world with their dreams and fantasies. I found myself engulfed in Pilar’s world all through and as the novel ended I felt the way I should after reading any good book- happy and satisfied.. The novels definitely gave me a high, it leaves with lot of things to feel good about, also to think and relate to your own life.
“By the River Piedra….” is great. An excellent storyline written with even more excellent techniques.It is indeed a great read, thanks to the linguistic genius of Paulo. Paulo’s underline message through this novel is simple,… there are no rules when it comes to love, as there are no rules when it comes to worshiping the Almighty.As he puts it “to love is to be in communion with the other, and to discover in that other the spark of God”. The only limitation I feel is the spiritual inclination of the novel. The presence of the Goddess in friend’s life and his dilemma of choosing Pilar’s love, or accepting the duties for the betterment of the world, might hang lillte superficially on the readers mind. Paulo also talks about discovering spirits and through these lovers,  he wants to tell his readers that anyone and everyone can speak the language of angels and perform miracles. Little difficult to comprehend his idea of religion and God though.There is always an air of mysticism that lingers in his novel and “By the River Piedra……” is no exception.Readers who are used to Paulo’s style of writing will understand the depth of his words but for others it might end up being little absurd and vague.

Nevertheless, I must admit that Paulo’s novels are anytime a pleasure. A friend of mine after reading this novel said, ” I wish I were Pilar” and goes on to add… Paulo through this book made me believe that to love someone is to love life itself…..Perfect !!!!

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