Archive for the ‘Gilbert, Elizabeth’ Category

Afer years of glancing at Elizabeth Gilbert’s ubiquitous 2009 bestseller out of the corner of my cynical eye, I had a “What the heck!” moment in the Sally Ann the other day and invested my 50 cents in a pristine paperback copy.

Someone read it, because it’s dog-eared here and there, but its crispness tells me they only did so once, with care, before boxing it up for giveaway. It’s going into my giveaway box in much the same condition; I’ve decided to abandon it in the first third of reading; we’re still in Italy with Elizabeth making mildly lustful glances at the twin brown-eyed Italian boys she’s supposed to be learning conversational Italian with.

What can I say that hasn’t been said? For every one gushing reader who swears this thing has changed her life (and interestingly enough, most of the online commenters are female), there seems to be another in full sneer mode. Love it or hate it, the book has sold in the millions, so Liz Gilbert (as she styles herself on her self-promotional website) isn’t about to get too bent out of shape by her detractors.

I took a deep breath as I delved in to the thing – “Be fair”, I cautioned myself, “maybe you’ll find it life-changing, too” – but sadly I am immune to whatever magic so many of my fellow middle-aged sisters have found therein. My spouse can rest quiet in our marital bed – I told him this and he took it with his usual stoic aplomb; he’s well-used to my book-inspired monologues; the bait has to be tempting indeed to get him to engage – undisturbed by a restless wife yearning for more inner fulfillment than she’s already getting living her modestly interesting life in her modestly comfortable home in her modestly beautiful and not very exotic part of the world. No guru calls my name alluringly across the ether; no gorgeous lover is waiting in the wings to open his arms if I do decide to take my departure from my marriage; no $200,000 advance is sitting in my bank account to finance my escape to Europe and the trendier bits of Asia.

Aha! That last bit’s the real rub, I think. And it got me thinking about “manufactured” memoirs, of which there are a fair few out there, and their spin-master authors, who’ve convinced their publishers to finance their travels, in order that they can collect material to weave into some sort of palatable narrative to woo the stay-at-homes with vicarious “it could be me” dreams.

Nice work if you can get it, and in this particular case I’ll be leaving our Liz to it. I’m sure she won’t be sobbing on the bathroom floor if she catches wind of my dismissal, no worries there for either, provider of vicarious thrills and judgemental sometimes-consumer of the same.

Is it a real memoir if someone’s paying your way to collect material before you even set out? Don’t you need to include that bit in the narrative? Many do, and their dialogues with their backers can add considerable interest to the tale, and win us over because we utterly get it, and are cheering the traveller on.

Eat, Pray, Love is just too coy about its true background for me to feel the love. The author is too shifty-eyed; it doesn’t ring true, and didn’t before I found out about the advance. I felt vindicated when I learned of it; my gut-reaction reluctance to buy in suddenly made perfect sense.

Your thoughts, as always, are most welcome, whichever side of the Eat, Pray, Love divide you find yourself on.

“Dear Ones, come buy into my journey…” Elizabeth Gilbert with well-staged backdrop, photographed in Two Buttons, her “Eastern accessories” retail store in New Jersey, opened after her return from her fortunate travels, second sexy husband in tow. The shop closed in 2016, after Gilbert’s second divorce.





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