So while living in Switzerland, I had this book recommended, nay practically forced upon me by a male acquaintance (the book was put into my hands at a party and he told me that I should borrow it). Not having read anything by Coelho previously, though with a vague remembrance of my high school teacher violently hating the guy, I set about politely reading it.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the book was about an immigrant sex worker in Switzerland. It made me more than a little uncomfortable, not because I have anything against sex workers, but because I was also an immigrant living in Switzerland and I was in fact looking for a new job at the moment, and this guy knew that, and well, it wasn't really what I had in mind.
I'm guessing (or hoping) that my friend's intrigue was with Coelho's general pseudo-philosophy and that's why he recommended it. I'm hoping that he wasn't really fascinated and wanting to discuss the plot. The lovely plot of how Maria, the sex worker, has to choose between two of her millionaire clients; one who's a sadistic bad boy and one who is more into delayed sexual gratification (or even abstinence if I remember correctly) but kind of complicated and hard to get close.
The reason for posting this review now, besides being reminded of it while I was reviewing a streak of horrible books, is that I suddenly realised that there was actually already a BDSM-story from a very popular author way before Fifty Shades of Grey
. Or rather, from what I've read about Fifty Shades, it's about BDSM only while suggesting that anyone who's into it is really a depraved lunatic.
In the end of this book (spoiler!) Maria denounces her previous wicked BDSM-ways and chooses the right man! Yay! (Urgh.) I'm actually thinking about writing an analysis on the whole phenomenon of writing detailed descriptions about BDSM, while at the same time denouncing it. It is really about trying to have the cake and eating it at the same time.
I might include Cosmopolis
by Don DeLillo in that analysis as well after reading a bit about it and seeing the following quote from that book :
"My mood shifts and bends. But when I'm alive and heightened, I'm super-acute. Do you know what I see when I look at you? I see a woman who wants to live shamelessly in her body. Tell me this is not the truth. You want to follow your body into idleness and fleshiness. That's why you have to run, to escape the drift of your basic nature. ...What do I see? Something lazy, sexy and insatiable."
They "[reach] completion more or less together, touching neither each other nor themselves."
First of all the writing style remind me of the previous two authors. But also: what is it with these people (Coelho, James and DeLillo) and writing about young millionaires with a 'depraved' badly written sex lives? Seriously, why are people buying into this? Is this the ultimate wish fullfillment for both genders: the men can imagine they are rich young millionaires having sex with willing sex dolls and the women that they get the bad boy with an unlimited credit card? I really think better of people in general, but of course with the way mainstream media looks, these types of fantasies are only the logical conclusion of more subtle versions on the same theme.
One last thing. The most enjoyable experience when reviewing this book came when reading the five star reviews of it and read this:
“How can he articulate so many nuggets of wisdom, often through characters the writing of which expresses the irony and profundity of their insights, and yet packaged in stories with such cliche outcomes?!?!”
If even your biggest fans think your writing is cliché, maybe you might want to reconsider your writing style.