There's a First for Everything... Don't Sweat It


By Tabitha Makumi,
There’s always a first for everything. Learning to ride a bike and falling your ass off a million times. Tasting your first beer or wine and realizing you love it a tad too much. (better watch out) Or learning to drive and never getting the hung of shifting gears and all that crap that makes you thank the car deities for coming up with automatic cars.

Well, for this lady right here, my first time reading a Paulo Coelho novel. Yeah, yeah, I know. I should be ashamed of myself. Which rock did I just crawl out of and could I just slide back right under it. Who admits to such an atrocious thing…off with their heads.

Somehow, I never got around to reading “The Alchemist” which has been read by folks who do not like books much. People who would rather watch paint dry than spend their Sunday afternoon reading a chapter or two of any book of their choosing. People who can’t stay still and finish a 200 pages Mills and Boons (cough) paperback novel. But yeah, they’ve read The Alchemist and “Oooh…it is the best darn book I have ever read,” is their favourite line.

 I lie all the time about having read that book. I figure people wouldn’t grasp how in the world, with enough books to start my own mini library, why I have never read the freaking alchemist. So, I do the easier thing than explaining myself. I lie.

But the fib has gotten stale of late and I’ve been feeling tired of lying my ass off. So I decided to walk into one of those fancy looking book stores along Kenyatta Avenue with “About time to get that stupid book,” thought in mind. Funny thing though, I was debating with myself on whether to spend a few bucks on a book or save/spend the chums on Unga. You know, buy in bulk just in case this shortage thing decides to prolong its ass till kingdom come. Even for the non-ugali lovers, we love having the choice of walking into a supermarket and seeing loads of Unga, even if for the sheer ‘sight’ comfort. Like yeah…I can see packets of Unga but I will get myself some Pasta or Ndengu or Njahe…. Bad things happen when you take that choice away from people. Am I right or am I right?

So…I walk into one of those bookstores sandwiched between a movie theatre and an ice cream parlor and I have a stupid grin plastered on my face. I always longed for such moments growing up. Buying books. Brand new  books, not the other kind….you know the ones I am talking about…just outside Tuskys Daima or wherever book lovers flock for cheap book thrills. Hahaha. I head straight to the fiction section, like I always do. And this is how you know you are financially challenged. (if you do not know it already) When you stare at an endless raw of books and your heart drops to your stomach because you can only afford two of them at a go…three if you are really pushing it.

I didn’t buy the Alchemist though…And it’s not because it was out of stock. It was right there staring me in the face with “please pick me vibes” rubbed all over it. So desperate of you “The Alchemist”, play hard to get next time. What I did was pick the coy “Eleven Minutes” by the same author. It didn’t have a desperate vibe, but more like, “I don’t give a shit what you decide to do with your money woman,” or “Your loss if you decide not to take me home and find out what I am all about…” So, yeah, “Eleven Minutes” it was.

If I were to review the book, which is what this jibber jabber was supposed to be, this is what I would say. This is a novel, we are warned at the beginning, that will deal with "a subject that is harsh, difficult, shocking": the international crime of "people trafficking". The heroine, Maria, is a surpassingly beautiful virgin from the Brazilian back-country. She runs off to Rio where she is tricked into going as a "dancer" to Geneva. There she descends into prostitution.

In Maria, however, the author has created a strong, sensual young woman who grabs our sympathy from the first, as she suffers unrequited love as a child, learns a bit about sex as a teenager and, at 19, makes the ill-advised decision to leave Rio on a Swedish stranger's promise of fame and fortune.

It’s a book that will require an open mind and a lot of eye roll while you wish the author could move on from over analyzing sex. The author embarks on a philosophical exploration of sexual love, using Maria's increasingly ponderous and pseudo-philosophical diary entries as a means for expounding on the nature of sexual desire, passion and love.

On a scale of 1-10…I will give "Eleven Minutes" 7 and a 1/2 . If you are a Paulo Coehlo fan, I would like to have a sit down and understand what the fuss is all about.

That's all for now folks.