Monday, February 06, 2006

Book Review and thoughts about "The Alchemist"

I was driving through some countryside that I hadn't gone through before and I spotted a book store that sells used books. I made a note of its location and a few days later I made a special trip out there.

Something like this is always a wonderful event for me. Little bookstores like this often hold serendipitious events for me.
It was many years ago that I discovered a tattered copy of the hobbit in a bookstore just like this. And this was before anybody ever heard of the Hobbit. It wa also in a bookstore like this that I discovered Dostoevsky and Watership Down.

Combing through the stacks I came across a book that was on my list for a long time: "The Alchemist" by Paolo Coelho. I took this as a good omen and I bought it.

There is a small irony about this book and me. I had asked for it as a christmas present from someone and they gave me the wrong one. There is another popular book called The Alchemist. I read that one but it doesn't compare. That one is pretty much just a run of the mill fiction work. Interesting and fun but not what I am looking for.

Back to the real Alchemist.

It's a good book, simple and short and with a great theme and idea but it suffers the same affliction that many of these kinds of books suffer from, books like Illusions by Richard Adams and even The lord of the rings.

Let me explain. THis book has a mysterious, seemingly all-knowing character that appears to our main character as he sits on a park bench. Hey there's something new.
These books always seem to have this kind of character that sets our hero on the path he must embark on.

Well, that's all fine and good but it doesn't do me, or you any good. In real life there is no character like this. So how am I to embark on my quest to find the real meaning of life? Beats the hell out of me. It would be so simple if some Gandalf, or King of Salem would come and show me the way -show me even a glimmer of the way. But there is no Gandalf.

Every single one of us here on this planet is standing in a cave and looking at shadows on the wall. Every single one of us.

The Search Continues