The final novel for consideration this month is Robin S. Sharma's The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
(HarperCollins, 198 pages, $24 cloth). Its subtitle speaks volumes: A Spiritual Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny.
The seductive self-help formula is presented here, as in James Redfield's phenomenally profitable The Celestine Prophecy
, in the guise of fiction. Julian Mantle, fifty-three, a celebrated millionaire lawyer, has a heart attack, his "personal wake-up call." After his recovery, he disappears. When three years later, he turns up at the office of his close friend and colleague John, he is a changed man. John is amazed: "How could someone who looked like a tired old man only a few short years ago now look so vibrant and alive?" Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, Julian tells him his remarkable story. He has spent the last three years in India where he became a disciple of the Sages of Sivana. The Sages live according to "seven basic virtues, seven fundamental principles which embodied the keys to self-leadership, personal responsibility, and spiritual enlightenment." Julian has embraced these virtues and now wants to spread the word to others.
Aside from the numerous clichés and platitudes ("there is a bright side to the darkest circumstance"; "there are no mistakes in life, only lessons"; "from struggle comes strength"), the most annoying aspect of this book is the "Action Summary * Julian's Wisdom in a Nutshell" at the end of many of the chapters. All these summaries do is highlight the flimsiness-the sheer insipidity-of the book's contents.
Books like this one are books with a mission: ostensibly, to teach and inspire the masses but, as I suspect in my more cynical moments, more likely to make money for their authors and publishers.