Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Clive Cussler pulls another adventure story out of the hat! I've loved his writing. Corsair is another Oregon Chronicle with Juan Cabrillo and his shipload of experts and daredevils. Fiona Katamora, the U.S. secretary of state, who was on her way to a summit meeting in Libya when her plane disappears. The Libyan foreign minister seems to have plans of his own, which is why the CIA thought to hire Cabrillo rather than to trust the Libyans to investigate the crash.
But what does Barbary pirates, ancient Islam scrolls, a ship hidden in the desert have to do with the Libyan peace meetings and the missing Secretary of State? Find out in another fun thriller by Cussler.
Paulo Coelho is an excellent writer. I enjoyed The Alchemist immensely! I've never forgotten that book.
Coelho is a native Brazilian whose father was an engineer and his mother a homemaker. He attended a Jesuit school. He wanted to be a writer at an early age but his parents discouraged him. At 17, Coelho's introversion and opposition to follow a traditional path led to his parents committing him to mental institution. He attempted to escape 3 times before he was released at age 20. They thought it was the only way to help him. With his parent's help he attended law school only to drop out and become a hippy and enter the drug culture of the 1960's. He traveled extensively and came back to Brazil to write song lyrics. In 1974 he was arrested and tortured because it was thought his song lyrics were subversive. In 1986, he walked the 500 mile walk to Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain and he had a spiritual awakening. He described it in The Pilgrimage. The next year he wrote The Alchemist. Since then he has generally written a new novel every two years. He is a Catholic although doesn't always agree with the Pope. He has a long term marriage with Christina Oiticica and they split their time between their homes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and France.
Igor is a Russian entrepreneur. He made his money with a mobile phone company. He returned from being a Russian soldier in the Afghanistan war with some deeply hidden dark secrets. He met a young woman in college named Ewa and they married. They were very much in love and, for him, there were no others. But Ewa didn't know his secret "talents". He borrowed money from the Russian mob to start his business. They struggled and worked and built the business into profitability beyond their wildest dreams and paid the Russian mob back. Ewa thought they were done with the seedy side. Igor becomes a very serious workaholic and Ewa begins to complain so he buys her a haute couture boutique and she makes a wonderful success of it. But they continue to grow apart because all he wants is to work more and more. After 18 yrs of marriage she slowly begins to find out his dark side. Igor is now in Cannes on some of his dark business.
Hamid Hussein is a Middle Eastern clothing designer. He comes from a humble family beginning. His father sold cloth. But a fabulously wealthy Sheikh needed to buy his family home in order to realize his dream of a modern wealthy city in the desert and his desire to prove to the rest of the world that Arabs are more than 3rd world country citizens who do nothing but kill in holy wars. One day he approached Hamid about selling his family home and Hamid said "No." The Sheikh was impressed with him and asked what it would take for him to sell. A young Hamid told the Sheikh of his desire to become a top worldwide designer of haute couture. The Sheikh backed him because it fell in with his own desires to promote a new world view of the Middle East. And Hamid made it. He has become a very famous, wealthy designer with plans to diversify into backing a movie. So he is in Cannes for the Movie Festival.
Gabriela is a 25 year old wannabe actress. She's always wanted to make it big just like millions of other young women. She has believed in the fantasy of Superstardom since she can remember and has pushed everything else aside to reach for that one goal. She's worried she's running out of time. She has managed to make it to Cannes and is staying in a room with several other young women who are also looking for their big break. Will it happen?
Photo from Internet
Jasmine is a 19 yr old black model. She was approached by a woman fashion photographer when she was 16. The photographer offered to work with her and make her a famous model. And she does! Jasmine is at the pinnacle of her modeling career and she's in Cannes.
Savoy is a Police Detective in Cannes. They only have an average of 2 murders per year and the rest is petty stuff. He feels like his career is wasted on boring paperwork. He is itching for a good case that will make his career and make him feel important.
Movie Festival in Cannes
In The Winner Takes All, Coelho writes much like Tom Wolfe (another favorite author of mine). He gets you into the scene and fully portrays the scenes and the characters. Unfortunately Wolfe doesn't weave any spiritual depth to his stories but Coelho does. I appreciate that. Coelho does a wonderful job painting the glitz on the paper and showing that that is how deep it really is...paper thin!
Photo from Internet
One symbol that he used was Hamid's fashion purse that Gabriela carries....filled with nothing but bunched paper. He also chooses two characters that are on the exact opposite sides of the "famous" meter and yet they are neither one given a name. The Star and the Androgyne. The Star is a male movie star that has made it but he is only as important as his cardboard glamor shot and his ability to keep that glamor picture in everyone's mind. The Androgyne is merely a production assistant with no fame or wealth. He only does his job. Neither are named as though who they really are were not important and, to the Superclass, this is true, they aren't important.
Photo from Internet
Igor is tormented by doubts on his mission but his belief in Jesus Christ and his vows to a saint are rock solid. He believes that this is what God wants. In his mind he is being tempted to break those vows by the Devil. When, in reality, Jesus is trying to win him away from his dark mission. By the end of the book, without realizing it, he has replaced Jesus with a "girl with dark eyebrows". He never realizes how twisted around his mind has him.
Photo from Internet
"Even the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, was tested as Igor is being tested now; being tempted by the Devil. And he needs to cling on tooth and nail to his faith if he's not to weaken in the mission with which he has been charged.
"The Devil is asking him to stop, to forgive, to abandon his task. The Devil is a top-class professional and knows how to fill the weak with alarming feelings such as fear, anxiety, impotence, and despair.
"When it comes to tempting the strong, he uses more sophisticated lures: good intentions. It's exactly what he did with Jesus when he found him wandering in the wilderness. Why, he asked, didn't he command that the stones be made bread, so that he could satisfy not only his own hunger, but that of all the other people begging him for food? Jesus, however, acted with the wisdom one would expect of the Son of God. He replied that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word from God's mouth."
Photo from Internet
For all of those who are dazzled by the glitz and glamour, this is a good wake up call, a critique. It's also a tragic love story. A mystery. I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
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