If you have ever met me in person you should know that I am a milliant Paulo Coelho hater. What is it about Paulo Coelho that evokes such strong emotions from within me? The simple answer is I hate Paulo Coelho because he is a bad writer. While this is true, it doesn't quite explain the repulsion. There are after all hundreds of bad writers – see Dan Brown, Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel – yet I let them be.
I didn't fully understand why either until I became familiar with the concept 'literary fiction'. I used to be put in a very awkward position when people asked what kind of books I read; thrillers or romance novels, or crime stories. And I would always say something along these lines:
"Well, I don't really read genre books so much, I read the, you know, proper books, like, er...good
Suddenly I’m walking on thin ice .
Now I can just say 'literary fiction' and avoid the risk of offending people. Yes, I might sound a little pretentious but people would just assume I am more into a lack of plot and that would be that.
What does this all have to do with Paulo Coelho? Well, I have realised the problem I have with Paulo Coelho is that he pretends to be literary fiction. Whereas Danielle Steel or Dan Brown resigned themselves to provide us with mindless entertainment and are free of any pretences that they give us anything more than that, Coelho is duping us into believing that he is revealing some great philosophical truths.
People with no literary education read things like „One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” or "Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to take is the worst of suffering." and convince themselves that they are dealing with a literary genius.
Then they go and say that Paulo Coelho changed their lives, that The Alchemist is the most important book they have read. And I can't listen to this because it is hurting my ears. I try to fight and say that Coelho just took some Hallmark cards and some well known fables, mixed them together thus produced a bastard offspring that he brazenly called literature. And then they say I just didn't understand it!
How can you NOT understand Coelho? His books are as complicated as shoelaces. Anyone above the age of three should be able to get them.
Then I say "So you believe that 'when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve
"Well, let me break this down to you - it's bollocks."