Friday, June 19, 2009

The winner stands alone

So after travelling for a couple of weeks I was back home and I was getting bored. So I did something which, under ideal circumstances, I would never do. I borrowed a Paulo Cohelo novel from my dad to pass the time by.

The winner stands alone by Paulo Cohelo - to be honest this one wasn't half as bad as his other novels which I have read. Now don't take this wrongly ( and fan boys please don't come breathing down on my neck ). But I never seem to get around to understanding his stories. A friend once told me that this is because his stories have spiritual and moral values which I would never understand. That may be true and I do prefer stories which have storytelling values rather than any other kind of values!!

This story is about a love-burnt man (aren't we all ;) ) and his quest to get his ex-wife back from the grasp of her current husband by showing her just how much he loves her and the lengths he's ready to go for her. ( he fails ) Wrapped around a world of fame, glitz,glamour, fashion and of course the movie stars and the superclass and set amidst the Cannes film festival.

The time duration of the story is small, less than 24 hours. As a result the story doesn't really progress much, but the author has done a great job at narrating what goes on in the character's minds rather than in the real world. With lots of back history about each character ( even those which are going to be killed off minutes later ) and very insightful views about the back-stage happenings about their line of work ( which is where the author's research really shows ), the reader connects with each and every character. But the flow of the story leaves something to be desired. The ending ,especially, seems to be haphazardly put together. Some people may blame the duration of the story for that, but I believe it to be the culprit as there have been novels which have been quite as insightful, with equally livid characters and quite as short durations but much better storylines than this. Take for example "Airport" or "Evening News", both by Arthur Hailey.

But it would be wrong on my part not to acknowledge the positive parts of the book. The book is very insightful. It tells us a lot about the world of glamour as to what exactly goes on in the lives of those who are a cog in that industry as opposed to what the world sees. The characters are very lividly portrayed, as a result a reader can connect with even the most minor of the characters. And the emotional/spiritual thoughts going on in every character's minds have been very nicely conveyed by the author.
But sadly, I'm not the kind of reader who is easily bought over by such things. I strongly believe that the engine of every novel should be the story itself, which is exactly where this novel fails.

So for those who are into such kind of stories would be overwhelmed by the piece of literature which is "the winner stands alone". But my personal advice would be to stay away from it.