Having finally completed Tolstoy’s War and Peace — I approached it with much trepidation, paced myself far more sensibly than I normally would, found some of the final battle sections and philosophising rather tedious and unnecessary, but, on the whole, thoroughly enjoyed it — I today started reading By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept by Paolo Coelho. I bought it on a whim after ordering Jostein Gaarder’s The Orange Girl via Amazon and having their service recommend it to me (quite often a good idea, I find, if you want to discover something you might otherwise have missed), and I have to say that, so far, I find it rather unimpressive. Coelho, whilst not exactly proselytising, seems intent on pushing his own religious/spiritual views on life — and whilst I don’t especially object to this, I find, because of the simplicity of the novel, the sketchily drawn characters, that it’s quite overpowering.
With novels like this, and with my own particular position on such matters being so… well, founded in the rational, and even though I do have those “spiritual” moments of connection with the world around me (usually when I’m out in the countryside), it’s very difficult not to let the author’s agenda develop more weight than he might have intended. I’m very conscious that it may well be my own bias that is spoiling the work for me, though I truly don’t think that it is. There’s a naivete about it that I feel I should like, but somehow it doesn’t feel quite sincere.
It isn’t a difficult read, though, so I’ll give it a chance and try to keep an open mind.
Other books waiting to be read:
- Elvis and the Memphis Mafia — by Alanna Nash.
- The Orange Girl — by Jostein Gaarder.
- Consciousness Explained — by Daniel Dennett.
- The Meaning of It All — by Richard Feynman.
- The Tin Drum — by Gunter Grass.