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Veronika decides to die / Paul Coelho ; translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa.

By: Coelho, Paulo, 1947-.
Contributor(s): Costa, Margaret Jull.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Pymble, N.S.W. : HarperCollins, 1999Description: 185 p. ; 21 cm.ISBN: 978-0-7322-6763-6; 978-0-7322-6763-6.Uniform titles: Veronika decide morrer. English Subject(s): Psychological fiction | Suicide -- Fiction | Quality of life -- FictionDDC classification: 869.34 Summary: Veronika believes her life is entirely meaningless. She takes an overdose of sleeping tablets in an attempt to end her life. Instead of dying, she wakes up (five days later) in a mental hospital. But her dismay worsens as she experiences a heart attack, and is told that the damage is so severe that she only has five days to live.
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Default Deer Park Library (DIY)
Fiction COEL Available IA1258193
Total reserves: 0

Veronika believes her life is entirely meaningless. She takes an overdose of sleeping tablets in an attempt to end her life. Instead of dying, she wakes up (five days later) in a mental hospital. But her dismay worsens as she experiences a heart attack, and is told that the damage is so severe that she only has five days to live.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Veronika Decides to Die Chapter One On November 11, 1997, Veronika decided that the moment to kill herself had-at last!-arrived. She carefully cleaned the room that she rented in a convent, turned off the heat, brushed her teeth, and lay down. She picked up the four packs of sleeping pills from her bedside table. Instead of crushing them and mixing them with water, she decided to take them one by one, because there is always a gap between intention and action, and she wanted to feel free to turn back halfway. With each pill she swallowed, however, she felt more convinced: After five minutes the packs were empty. Since she didn't know exactly how long it would take her to lose consciousness, she had placed on the bed that month's issue of a French magazine, Homme, which had just arrived in the library where she worked. She had no particular interest in computer science, but, as she leafed through the magazine, she came across an article about a computer game (one of those CD-ROMS) created by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer she had happened to meet at a lecture in the café at the Grand Union Hotel. They had exchanged a few words, and she had ended up being invited by his publisher to join them for supper. There were a lot of people there, though, and they hadn't had a chance to talk in depth about anything. The fact that she had met the author led her to think that he was part of her world, and that reading an article about his work could help pass the time. While she was waiting for death, Veronika started reading about computer science, a subject in which she was not the least bit interested, but then that was in keeping with what she had done all her life, always looking for the easy option, for whatever was nearest at hand. Like that magazine, for example. To her surprise, though, the first line of text shook her out of her natural passivity (the tranquilizers had not yet dissolved in her stomach, but Veronika was by nature passive), and, for the first time in her life, it made her ponder the truth of a saying that was very fashionable among her friends: "Nothing in this world happens by chance." Why that first line, at precisely the moment when she had begun to die? What was the hidden message she saw before her, assuming there are such things as hidden messages rather than mere coincidences? Underneath an illustration of the computer game, the journalist began his article by asking: "Where is Slovenia?" Honestly, she thought, no one ever knows where Slovenia is. But Slovenia existed nonetheless, and it was outside, inside, in the mountains around her and in the square she was looking out at: Slovenia was her country. She put the magazine to one side; there was no point now in getting indignant with a world that knew absolutely nothing about the Slovenes; her nation's honor no longer concerned her. It was time to feel proud of herself, to recognize that she had been able to do this, that she had finally had the courage and was leaving this life: What joy! Also she was doing it as she had always dreamed she would-by taking sleeping pills, which leave no mark. Veronika had been trying to get hold of the pills for nearly six months. Thinking that she would never manage it, she had even considered slashing her wrists. It didn't matter that the room would end up awash in blood, and the nuns would be left feeling confused and troubled, for suicide demands that people think of themselves first and of others later. She was prepared to do all she could so that her death would cause as little upset as possible, but if slashing her wrists was the only way, then she had no option-and the nuns could clean up the room and quickly forget the whole story, otherwise they would find it hard to rent out the room again. We may live at the end of the twentieth century, but people still believe in ghosts. Obviously she could have thrown herself off one of the few tall buildings in Ljubljana, but what about the further suffering a fall from such a height would cause her parents? Apart from the shock of learning that their daughter had died, they would also have to identify a disfigured corpse; no, that was a worse solution than bleeding to death, because it would leave indelible marks on two people who only wanted the best for her. They would get used to their daughter's death eventually. But it must be impossible to forget a shattered skull. Shooting, jumping off a high building, hanging, none of these options suited her feminine nature. Women, when they kill themselves, choose far more romantic methods-like slashing their wrists or taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Abandoned princesses and Hollywood actresses have provided numerous examples of this. Veronika knew that life was always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act. And so it proved to be the case. In response to her complaints that she could no longer sleep at night, two friends of hers managed to get hold of two packs each of a powerful drug, used by musicians at a local nightclub. Veronika left the four packs on her bedside table for a week, courting approaching death and saying good-bye-entirely unsentimentally-to what people called life. Now she was there, glad she had gone all the way, and bored because she didn't know what to do with the little time that was left to her. She thought again about the absurd question she had just read. How could an article about computers begin with such an idiotic opening line: "Where is Slovenia?" Having nothing more interesting to do, she decided to read the whole article, and she learned that the said computer game had been made in Slovenia-that strange country that no one seemed quite able to place, except the people who lived there-because it was a cheap source of labor. A few months before, when the product was launched, the French manufacturer had given a party for journalists from all over the world in a castle in Vled. Veronika remembered reading something about the party; which had been quite an event in the city, not just because the castle had been redecorated in order to match as closely as possible the medieval atmosphere of the CD-ROM, but because of the controversy in the local press: Journalists from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain had been invited, but not a single Slovene . . . Veronika Decides to Die . Copyright © by Paulo Coelho. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

After an overdose, Veronika goes on living--and looking for life's meaning. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

The bestselling Brazilian author of The Alchemist delicately etches this morose but ultimately uplifting story of the suicidal Veronika, who creeps along the boundary between life and death, sanity and madness, happiness and despair. Veronika, 24, works in a library in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and rents a room in a convent; she is an attractive woman with friends and family, but feelings of powerlessness and apathy tempt her to find "freedom" in an overdose of sleeping pills. When Veronika awakens in the purgatory of Villete, the country's famous lunatic asylum, she is told her suicide attempt weakened her heart and she has only days to live. At this point, Coelho takes a role in the novel; he describes the circumstances under which he discovered Veronika's story and then recounts his own youthful incarceration in a Brazilian sanatorium, consigned there by parents who couldn't understand his "unusual behavior." As quickly as he drops in, however, he drops out again, relying on interior monologues to set scenes. In a sedative-induced haze, Veronika finds companionship in white-haired Mari, who suffers from panic attacks, and Eduard, an ambassador's son who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, and she begins to question the definition of insanity. It is her supposed death sentence from the devious Dr. Igor, who is trying to shock her back into reality, that allows Veronika to reacquire the will to live and love. Employing his trademark blend of religious and philosophical overtones, Coelho focuses on his central question: why do people go on when life seems unfair and fate indifferent? The simple, often banal prose contrasts Veronika's bleak inner landscape with the beautiful contours of Slovenia, gradually culminating in an upbeat ending with the message that each day of life is a miracle. Coelho's latest will appeal to readers who enjoy animated homilies about the worth of human existence. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Book Review

A touching, if overexplicit, fable about learning to live in the face of death. As he confides in an early chapter, Coelho himself (The Fifth Mountain, 1998, etc.) was apparently institutionalized simply because his adolescent behavior baffled his parents. Here, he returns to the world of mental hospitals indirectly via Veronika, a Ljubljana librarian who'tired of the fact that, at 24, she already finds every day like every other and can't imagine any future but increasing boredom, decay, and death'takes an overdose of sleeping pills. She awakens in Villette, Slovenia's notorious lunatic asylum, to learn that she's damaged her heart irreparably and has only a week to live. Initially rebelling against her keepers' solicitous rules and regulations (``I'm not here to preserve my life, but to lose it,' she reminds a nurse), she finds first her curiosity and then, gradually, her passions aroused by her fellow patients. Serbian Zedka Mendel, lacking a necessary brain chemical, endures megadoses of insulin that send her into comas. Mari, a lawyer who committed herself because she was suffering from panic attacks, has been asymptomatic for years but, divorced and forced into retirement, has nothing left to return to. Eduard, a 'schizophrenic' whose case seems most like Coelho's, is an ambassador's son who ended up in Villette after rejecting a diplomatic career to paint. Regrettably, however, Coelho, preaching the need to live your own life in the face of death and social regimentation, can't resist capping these often poignant stories with sanity-is-the-true-madness insights out of R.D. Laing and prosy homiletics ('It's what you are, not what others make of you') that seem to have been cribbed from a high- school health textbook. Imagine peering into the very heart of the mystical rose in Dante's Paradise and finding the neon injunction: 'TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.'

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