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June 16, 2005

Can We Shut Up About Paulo Coelho Now?

by Ron Hogan

A couple of blogs picked up on Elizabeth Day's interview with Paulo Coelho for the Telegraph, in which "the world's biggest-selling novelist"* reveals that for all his success, he's still an asshole, as evidenced by the story of how he delayed an international flight to go smoke in the airport:

"I knew that it was a little bit cowardly of me not to have a reaction on the spot. I should have said to the steward, 'You saw me smoking? F--- you.' Then my soul could have been cleared of any bad feeling."

And while the consensus of the critical world is that Coelho's a bad, bad writer, he says it doesn't bother him: "I write from my soul... I know who I am." Whatever. I'll admit that showing Coelho up as a self-absorbed jerk is a welcome change of pace from the "poor little rich author" treatment he usually gets from the American press, but now perhaps it's time to let him jet between his two fancy homes in media obscurity until he does something truly noteworthy like refine his impression of Castaneda by starting a cult.

* "Since the publication of his first work, The Pilgrimage, in 1987, he has sold 65 million books, making him the best-selling author in the world--above John Grisham, Tom Clancy and the seemingly unassailable J.K. Rowling." Even if that's true, two words: Stephen King.
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