The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho
Finished: May 11, 2009
First Published: Apr, 7, 2009
Genre: literary fiction, realistic fiction
The Beretta Px4 compact pistol is slightly lager than a mobile phone, weighs around seven hundred grams, and can fire ten shots.
Reason for Reading: I have never read a Paulo Coelho book before and honestly really had no interest in them when I read descriptions of the plots. But bloggers continue to wax eloquent about how wonderful his books are that I knew I would have to give in a read one some day. So when I saw he had a new one coming out, the plot actually piqued my interest so I thought I'd give it a go. I received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.
Comments: I'll start off by saying this is a difficult book to summarize as there are many different layers a reviewer may want to concentrate on. On the surface the plot concerns Igor,a wealthy Russian man, who is obsessed with his ex-wife; it is actually this obsession along with other things that drove her to run off with another man. He promised her once that if she ever left him he would "destroy worlds" to get her back. Now two years later, he follows her and her new husband to the Cannes Festival and starts to randomly serial kill for her sending her text messages that he has "destroyed another world" for her each time. The book also then, is set in the glamorous world of over excess inhabited by the rich, famous, celebrity, hangers-on and wannabes. It is this world that is examined ,through the characters, that show how vapid and meaningless, on the inside, is this life of grandiose over indulgences on the outside.
The narrative is often from the point of view of Igor but alternates with other characters who have been affected in some form whether small or dramatically by his actions of murder. We follow the lives of actresses trying to make it, models, street jewelry sellers, actors, directors, producers, models, haute couteur designers, Igor's ex wife, people related to the deceased and those who have not yet been affected but will soon be.
The writing is absolutely beautiful. Descriptions and details are a joy to read, the characters are deep and multi-layered, even those of minor importance. Not having read any other Coelho, I can't compare this to his other work but from plot descriptions I feel this may be somewhat a different kind of story than what he usually tells. I was amazed by the religiousness of the writing. I had no idea. It was beautiful. Coelho writes of a world where it is simply assumed God exists and his characters are naturally Believers. I have a slew of quotes from this book that hit me hard and made me think. If Paulo Coelho's other books are also like this I most certainly will be reading them in the future. I leave this review with such a quote:
Someone's spirit, however, has no name; it is pure truth and inhabits a particular body for a certain period of time, and will, one day, leave it, and God won't bother asking, "What's your name?" when the soul arrives at the final judgement. God will only ask: "Did you love while you were alive?" For that is the essence of life: the ability to love, not the name we carry around on our passport, business card, and identity card. The great mystics changed their names, and sometimes abandoned them altogether. When John the Baptist was asked who he was, he said only, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." When Jesus found the man on whom he would build his church, he ignored the fact that the man in question has spent his entire life answering to the name of Simon and called him Peter. When Moses asked God his name, back came the reply: "I am who I am."