“Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil and has become one of the most widely read authors in the world. Especially renowned for The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, he has sold more than 75 million books worldwide and has been translated into 61 languages. The recipient of numerous prestigious international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum and France’s Legion d’Honneur, Paulo is a Writer to inspire nations. Paulo Coelho was included into the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2002. He writes a weekly column syndicated throughout the world.” ~ Source: The write-up about Coelho behind the front cover of this book.
Now let’s take a look at one of his masterpieces, shall we ?
When I was fifteen, I said to my mother: “I’ve discovered my vocation. I want to be a writer.”
“My dear,” she replied sadly, “your father is an engineer. He’s a logical, reasonable man with a very clear vision of the world. Do you actually know what it means to be a writer?”
“Being someone who writes books.”
“Your Uncle Horoldo, who is a doctor, also writes books, and has even published some. If you study engineering, you can always right in your spare time.”
“No, Mama. I want to be a writer, not an engineer who writes books.”
“But have you ever met a writer ? Have you ever seen a writer ?”
“Never. Only in photographs.”
“So how can you possibly want to be a writer if you don’t really know what it means ?”
In order to answer my mother’s question, I decided to do some research. This is what I learned about what being a writer meant in the early 1960s :
(a) A writer always wears glasses and never combs his hair. Half the time he feels angry about everything and the other half depressed. He spends most of his life in bars, arguing with other disheveled, bespectacled writers. He says very ‘deep’ things. He always has amazing ideas for the plot of his next novel, and hates the one he has just published.
(b) A writer has a duty and an obligation never to be understood by his own generation; convinced, as he is, that he has been born into an age of mediocrity, he believes that being understood would mean losing his chance of ever being considered a genius. A writer revises and rewrites each sentence many times. The vocabulary of the average man is made up of 3,000 words; a real writer never uses any of these, because there are another 189,000 in the dictionary, and he is not the average man.
(c) Only other writers can understand what a writer is trying to say. Even so, he secretly hates all other writers, because they are always jockeying for the same vocancies left by the history of literature over the centuries. And so the writer and his peers compete for the prize of ‘most complicated book’: the one who wins will be the one who has succeeded in being the most difficult to read.
(d) A writer understands things with alarming names, like semiotics, epistemology, neoconcretism. When he wants to shock someone, he says things like: ‘Einstein is a fool’, or ‘Tolstoy was the clown of the bourgeoisie.’ Everyone is scandalized, but they nevertheless go and tell other people that the theory of relativity is bunk, and that Tolstoy was a defender of the Russian aristocracy.
(e) When trying to seduce a woman, a writer says: “I’m a writer”, and scribbles a poem on a napkin. It always works.
(f) Given his vast culture, a writer can always get work as a literary critic. In that role, he can show his generosity by writing about his friends’ books. Half of any such reviews are made up of quotations from foreign authors and the other half of analyses of sentences, always using expressions such as ‘the epistemological cut’, or ‘an integrated bi-dimensional vision of life’. Anyone reading the review will say: “What a cultivated person”, but he won’t buy the book because he’ll be afraid he might not know how to continue reading after the epistemological cut appears.
(g) When invited to say what he is reading at the moment, a writer always mentions a book no one has ever heard of.
(h) There is only one book that arouses the unanimous admiration of the writer and his peers: Ulysses by James Joyce. No writer will ever speak ill of this book, but when someone asks him what it’s about, he can’t quite explain, making one doubt that he has actually read it.
Armed with all this information, I went back to my mother and explained exactly what a writer was. She was somewhat surprised.
“It would be easier to be an engineer,” she said. “Besides, you don’t wear glasses.”
However, I did already have the untidy hair, a packet of Gauloises in my pocket, the script of a play under my arm (The Limits of Resistance, which, to my delight, a critic described as ‘the maddest thing I’ve ever seen on stage); I was also studying Hegel and was determined, somehow or other, to read Ulysses. Then a rock singer turned up and asked me to write words for his songs, and I withdrew from the search for immortality and set myself once more on the same path as ordinary people.
This path took me to many places and caused me to change countries more often than I changed shoes, as Bertolt Brecht used to say. The pages that follow contain accounts of some of my own experiences, stories other people have told me, and thoughts I’ve had while traveling down particular stretches of the river of my life.
These stories and articles have all been published in various newspapers and around the world and have been collected together at the request of my readers.
~ Paulo Coelho.
~Short Book Review~
*claps* If the preface is this damn good, imagine how the book will be. This short masterpiece brought a stupid smile on my face. This book ~ Like the Flowing River ~ is a collection of short stories based on real life experiences and is like a mixed bag of emotions ~ some stories are serious and some are humorous but most importantly every story passes on various important messages to the readers and gets them thinking. It makes them question things that they had never thought of before. This book is a true reflection of Paulo Coelho as a writer. I would give this 232 pages and 102 short stories book a 5/5 rating.
Do give it a read
Have you read this book ? What are your thoughts on it ? Which is your favorite Paulo Coelho book ? Let me know in the comments down below 👇🏻
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