In what ways is Paulo Coelho's choice to relate The Alchemist in the form of direct address highly effective with the reader?
Paulo Coelho's narrative choice to use direct address in his novel The Alchemist is a particularly effective way to reach Coelho's audience.
First, this method of address makes the story take on an immediacy (and "intellectual adjacency"). The ideas and precepts do not necessarily take place in the past, but appeal to the modern audience as if the elements of the novel could be taking place here—today and anywhere in the world. This timelessness adds to the credibility of the story, which is not restricted to a particular culture, race, religion or intellectual group. The book's themes—life truths—are universal. The manner of direct address allows the reader to feel Coelho is speaking to each reader personally, and this creates the story's credibility.
The author's choice of direct address makes the reader feel as if he/she is being addressed almost conversationally. At first glance, one could believe that this might rob the story of its subtle elegance. However, the author's ability to speak so succinctly and clearly—while presenting themes of enormous value—is accomplished with grace and is something of a surprise. Interestingly (and worth noting), it is not until the reader sits down with the book a second or third time that he/she realizes that this is not a one-dimensional story, but something with multiple layers. Each time we read the book, we learn and internalize something new. The method of using direct address puts the reader at ease. We do not feel as if we are reading a technical journal or a textbook, but we are reading a book about life. One might anticipate that the presentation of such significant ideas might be much more sophisticated, but in avoiding a tone of heaviness, the author can appeal—reach out—to a wider audience. And although the reading seems straight-forward and almost effortless, the depth of meaning is waiting beneath the service if only the inquisitive mind chooses to pick it up and look for personal meaning between the pages.