Friday, March 07, 2008

12. Eat, Pray, Love

by Elizabeth Gilbert

The title and the cover of the paperback are great. The rest – skip it. The fact that her “spiritual” journey was financed with a book advance really hurt the integrity of her story for me.

Gilbert’s book is divided into three sections, one for each country she visits (Italy, India, Indonesia -- three "I"s, notice). There are 36 “chapters” in each section, all written during her 36th year, for a total of 108. She uses the japa mala, prayer beads (usually numbering 108 in a circle) used in India by Hindus and Buddhists, as a metaphor for the structure for her book.

Gilbert spends about four months in each country. Gilbert is privileged, and she and the book come across as selfish, egotistical, self-absorbed, and narcissistic. At 30, Gilbert goes through a divorce (because she decides she does not want to have children after all), and this trip is the result.

I was divorced from my first husband around age 40 (I'm 50 now) and had a 12-year-old son at the time. I hadn't worked in 10 years and got next to nothing in child support. Gee, it would have been nice to have the MONEY and the TIME and the FREEDOM to spend a year eating and making love and "finding myself" in Italy, Bali (Indonesia), and India! I felt like telling Elizabeth Gilbert to GROW UP ALREADY! and kwitcher bitchin!

If you can't tell, I really couldn't relate to this book. It was an OK read, but not one I would read again, nor would I recommend it to anyone else. Gilbert certainly isn't any hero or role model. Anybody who admits she fantasizes about Bill Clinton while masturbating (and includes it in a memoir) is really not to be admired. Also, there's been a bit of controversy lately about this book (see USA Today and Slate).

As an aside: Did you know that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an article for GQ in 1997 about her experiences bartending at Coyote Ugly in New York City that became the basis for the 2000 movie of the same name?

1 comment:

  1. We totally agree on this one, Amanda! I HATED this book, and I HATE (I will make no bones about it!) Elizabeth Gilbert. What a self-centered schmuck!