A Longing for Just ‘Eleven Minutes’

“Once upon a time….” Like every fairy tale, starts the novel by ‘Paulo Coelho’. First few words create an illusion in the mind of the reader when it starts. A Brazilian novelist who has an amazing contribution to English literature with books like “The Alchemist”, “By the River Piedra I sat down and wept”, “The Fifth Mountain”, “The Devil and Miss Prym”, “Veronika Decides to die”, “Like The Flowing River,” “The Witch of Portobello” and “The Valkyries”.

In his much acclaimed book, “11 Minutes”, the famous writer decides to share a prostitute’s story, named Maria who is a Brazilian girl. The story starts by creating a plot of sympathy for a child who loses love at a very tender age and decides never to fall in love again. Maria, the protagonist, meets new people in her teenage that makes her go further to explore her fragile dreams of physical longing. Hence she witnesses a chain of love lock up’s and break up’s by learning a little about sex, that is just enough to make her yearn for more, without realizing the consequences.

As she opens her wings to take a flight, the young sensual woman gets ill-advised by a Swedish stranger that forces her to leave her home town Rio in the want of fame and money. A desire for good fortune and a longing to give her family a set standard of living, she starts working as a sex worker.

The plot of the story takes a turn when she realizes that she has got entangled in a trap, which is only clutching itself around her tighter. The writer quotes many lines which makes one relate to their life on a very practical note. The book was written in the period where topics like sex and the word prostitute were considered bad omens.

This book not only made Paulo Coelho stand out from the crowd as an outrageous writer of his times, who portrayed a sexual phase in his writings and showed a desire of endless passion but in reality it is just a fantasy of “Eleven Minutes”. Many parts of the story are shown by Maria’s Dairy writings that say a lot for itself. These entries are explicatory in nature that are written in the form of instances, desires, poems, personal encounters through which an emotional characterization in the situations can be pictured easily.

The latter half of the story is when two new characters enter on two different notes and deeply influence her thinking. One man who has lost his interest in sexual part of the relation finds Maria a way to refresh or regenerate his sex life and other individual who introduced Maria to sadomasochism.

Coelho has used the words in a very descriptive manner that is in the context of sexual trappings. A book with observations about female anatomy which focuses on the hard accepted fact that in real life how many women are dissatisfied with their sex lives and on the other hand focuses on the “ inner light “ and everlasting love. The ending is quite impactful as the writer tries to explain the sacred nature of sex. Paulo has always been an expressive author who has never hesitated to experiment with his writing.

Snigdha Verma