A fable from award-winning Brazilian author Paul Coelho about the importance of taking risks and overcoming difficulty ... told from the perspective of Tetsuya, a famous former archer, and his apprentice.
This minimalist narrative is split between a prologue and an epilogue, thus framing a series of thirteen eloquent lessons. The chapters, ranging from a few lines to several pages, detail the proper gestures a novice archer must learn in order to excel ... Such simplicity in storytelling disguises a more complex message than how best to pull back a bowstring; it fosters an understanding of the higher self and a reverence for life’s many stages ... Coelho’s keen understanding of humanity’s yearning for enlightenment emerges again and again in his work ... For fans of Zen philosophy and metaphysical fiction, The Archer is a must-read.
Read at face level, this slim volume seems to offer little beyond rudimentary instruction, but the deeper message of the archer is that mastery requires one to delve into the heart of any endeavor. More than perfect technique, it is a matter of patience, intention, hard work, and a willingness to be vulnerable ... Coelho’s mystical, aphoristic style will not be to everyone’s taste. Some readers will see deep truth in the spare sentences; others will find this allegorical tale a trite yawn. Whether this book will be a life-changer or not will depend very much on what the reader both brings to and seeks from its pages.
The setting of The Archer is the world of parables that we might think of as Meaningville, an abstract realm with muted colors and a fuzzy periphery signaling Lessons are about to be unfurled ... The superficiality of The Archer is exacerbated by its deadening style ... My only relief came from moments of unintended humor ... You may think I’m being too hard on this slim volume, but I’ve started to worry that Coelho and his ilk aren’t nearly as harmless as we imagine ... Critics are advised not to be so snobby or to take solace in the assumption that these books will eventually lead readers to more substantive works. But what if, instead, trite literature dulls the senses and makes one less able to appreciate quality, complexity, real insight? ... Fortune cookies bound into lovely little books won’t get us through the dark night of the soul.