Sunday, October 19, 2008

"The number 666 is Aleister Crowley"

I am not a reader of Paulo Coelho, but I nonetheless found myself rather captivated by this conclusion to Stuart Husband's Telegraph profile:
Coelho's name is about to be lent to another product; a fountain pen from the venerable Italian manufacturer Montegrappa in a limited edition of 1947, commemorating his birthdate (1,000 of them in silver, 900 in silver and emeralds and 47 in yellow gold, emeralds and diamonds; the latter will retail at around £10,000). The nib is adorned with a butterfly and the shaft with a relief map of the Pilgrim's Route to Santiago. It's not the first time that Coelho has been associated with a luxury brand; last year, the International Watch Company commissioned him to write seven short stories, one about each model the company produces (his fee went to benefit the Paulo Coelho Insititute, a foundation that helps children who live in the Rio favelas). Coelho's brand awareness and new-found interest in fashion may have been fomented by his personal assistant Alessandro, a dapper, Herm├Ęs-belted German, half Coelho's age, who confides that he also works in brand consultancy for the likes of Hugo Boss and Formula 1; and, while he may be in awe of Coelho ('Did you know that Nelly Furtado only decided to have a child after reading one of his books?' he asks me, wide-eyed), seems to regard him as another trademark to be turned to account. Coelho himself, while waxing lyrical over the pen, seems to be genuinely unconcerned with Mammon.

While his books have brought him great wealth – he has an apartment in Paris' sixth arrondissement containing an improvised archery course, as well as a converted mill in the French Pyrenees and an apartment on Copacabana beach – he's artlessly open and approachable; and, as his almost daily blogging attests, he prides himself on his close relationship with his readers (one that is more than reciprocated – 'You have been like the mother bird that helps her little ones fly,' runs a typical response to a recent post). 'I am an internet junkie,' he declares with glee. 'I have a public inbox which receives over 1,000 emails a day and which I employ four people to answer, plus my forums, my blog, and an inbox just for work. This is what I do. I don't socialise or go for cocktails and dinners. I hate to be smart. People know they can always reach me.'

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