A Warriors Life: A Biography of Paulo Coelho by Fernando Morais
21 January, 2010 by Wulf Forrester-Barker
”… whom I am not at all sure I would like, at least not to spend a whole book with him“ (Mortimer J, Rumpole of the Bailey, in The First Rumple Omnibus, Penguin, 1983, p10)
Thus writes Mortimer’s Rumpole, musing on revisiting his younger self in the autobiographical sketches he sets out to write. Having spent a book with Paulo Coelho, I am quite positive that I would not strive to spend another with him and I am not even sure that I would care to spend another in the company of his characters either. Their wisdom stems from the creator and Fernando Morais’ account of his life, which purports to carry the Coelho stamp of approval, paints a vainglorious hero from whose path I wanted to divert at every turn.
I am patently not an adherent of “The Warrior”, although I have previously read The Alchemist, which I did not find too bad. So much for the subject but what of the telling?
Morais chooses the motif of opening with a scene from the present before returning to his subject’s birth and progressing forward through life to near the starting point. The author seems to be a fan of Coelho, repeatedly pointing out the stubborn foolishness of the Brazilian critics at belittling him despite ever-increasing sales success and relating without scepticism his stories of supernatural occurences.
Of course, it was also Morais who chose to begin the work recounting how Coelho seems possessed of an irrational anger when he thinks he is ignored but switches to preening when receiving the adulation of the crowds and how he receives comfort not just from his compulsion to perform various mystic gestures but also in tracking the ever increasing sales of his books around the world.
He fails though in either making his subject appear interesting to me or in writing so richly that I was distracted from my dissatisfaction. Some of that may be lost in translation from Portuguese (the book was first published in Brazil although I cannot find a translation credit) but I still only feel inclined to cast it at 2/5 even though I am sure that many would love it and mark me short of Coelho’s alleged gnosis.