It was a different Paulo Coelho I read in Eleven Minutes.While The Alchemist is a simple fable about following your dream, readers should not expect the same treatment from the novel which deals with the adventures of Maria, a Brazilian village girl who achieves her life’s goals the hard way, through prostitution.
The book is sensual and provocative and is easily one of my favorites this year.The translation from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa is “full of poetry and beautiful images”…the words being a long, slow lap dance waiting to be devoured at every turn. Eleven Minutes is about harsh realities, human relationships, sex as a form of pleasure and how love can emerge from all of that. Eleven..thugged at my heartstrings because it reminded me of my own journeys of the heart. At some point, we are bound to adopt Maria’s philosophy that we must love without expecting nothing in return if only to shield us from the inevitable heartbreak. Life is a flux and real love means freedom.
Some of my favorite lines from the novel:
Although my aim is to understand love, and although I suffer to think of the people to whom I gave my heart, I see that those who touched my heart failed to arouse my body, and that those who aroused my body failed to touch my heart.
And if nothing belongs to me, then there’s no point wasting my time looking after things that aren’t mine; it’s best to live as if today were the first of last day of my life.
In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each of us responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel.
It hurt when I lost each of the various men I fell in love with. Now, though, I am convinced that no one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone.
That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.
What is real always finds a way of revealing itself
The most important experiences a man can have are those that take him to the very limit. Only those who know those frontiers know life; everything else is just passing the time, repeating the same tasks, growing old and dying without ever having discovered what we are doing here.
Each day I choose the truth by which I try to live. But I would like to be able always to choose desire as my companion. Not out of obligation, not to lessen my loneliness, but because it is good. Yes, very good.
Life is too short, or too long, for me to allow myself the luxury of living it so badly.
Yes, I love you very much, as I have never loved another man, and that is precisely why I am leaving, because, if I stayed, the dream would become reality, the desire to possess, to want your life to be mine…in short, all the things that transform love into slavery. It’s best left like this – a dream.
As a last note: maybe I’ll have to email Mr. Coelho to say his ending sucks. It was just like in the movies. Jaded prostitute runs off into the sunset with her Prince and we all know it’s not like that in real life.Well at least in our very ordinary lives.