The pages “The Alchemist” held a wonderful fable about personal growth and the acquisition of material dreams. It seems as though everything Santiago ever wanted was right under his nose all along, and that the journey he had taken to attain it saw him grow not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. While the idea of spiritual growth is not a new one, Coelho found a way to package it into a less desperate looking binding. People who would not have regularly read a book like this came to appreciate the life lesson. That being said, I felt that the book seemed overly sentimental and simple. For the most part, when people read, they like to figure a few things out on their own. I know I do.
I feel as though the story lacked a certain subtlety in reference to its message, and that has probably fueled my reaction towards it. The repetitive nature of certain “lessons” throughout seemed to steer the book towards a mass-market appeal that turned me off, just a little. “The Alchemist” seems to be a self-help book with a clever story mixed in; a mystical but motivational piece about following your dreams. There are tons of books just like this that people brush off every day; The Secret, The Power and anything by Deepak Chopra have been ridiculed by intellectuals and written off as “new-age”, while this book which shares the same message has found its place between to John Cheever and E.E. Cummings .
The story of Santiago’s journey seemed like an afterthought, and after finding out that the author wrote it in less than two weeks only further proved my suspicion. While the core of the story, and its intentions were virtuous (as a fable should be), it seemed as though Coelho had written an outline of points that he had wanted to discuss and then wrote the story around them. This is most prevalent when reviewing the dialogue of the Alchemist towards the end of the story. Most of the dialogue between the Santiago and the Alchemist is disjointed and generally doesn’t flow with the rest of the book. I understand that the Alchemist is teaching Santiago the importance of his place in the universe, but it just fell short. Each time the Alchemist spoke, I found myself skimming quickly to the next end-quotation mark.
I was hoping that this book wouldn’t have been as transparent as it was, but it wasn’t the worst thing I have ever read either. If I felt someone I knew was in need of encouragement and could not find their way around a more complicated piece, I would suggest this. It was a quick and thoughtful read; it just left me personally unfulfilled. I didn’t really think that much about it after I put it down.
-Punching a Rug
-A Work in Progress: Bird Mask.
-and maybe a finished sock?