Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Eat, Pray, Love

Ok, so just a forewarning for any readers out there who liked the book Eat, Pray, Love. You probably aren't going to agree with anything I say from here on in. Read on at your own risk, or go on your merry way without prejudice!

I'm coming at this blog post so long after the book was released because of the recent news that the story will be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.

Let me start by saying that I like Elizabeth Gilbert's writing. She's witty and funny and I think she has a gift for describing beautiful things. She's good at what she does.

That being said, I was so annoyed by the time I got through Eat, Pray, Love that I could barely see straight.

My annoyance isn't really with the trip itself. The trip sounded beautiful and I'm sure was a lovely experience. It was neat to read about. I like Italian food too.

My annoyance was largely with the fact that SOMEBODY ELSE PAID FOR HER TO TAKE THE TRIP, a fact which goes by in her early chapters astonishingly quickly. And that, knowing that someone else was paying for her to have this incredible experience, she still acts like she was entitled to it.

Most of the rest of us, when our lives get messy (and they all do), work it out. We yell, and cry, and fight, and compromise, and make sacrifices, and take stock, and move on, and heal, and seek help, and brush ourselves off, and take responsibility. We figure it out. It takes time, but we do it. And maybe somewhere in there, we take ourselves on a bit of a vacation to clear our heads. A vacation that WE PAY FOR.

We don't abandon our lives and go and do whatever we want on the other side of the world, on someone else's dime.

I have no objection to the trip itself. Like I said, it sounded fascinating. I certainly believe that we are entitled to genuine adventures in our lives. And I fully appreciate (and even like!) books about people's travels around the world.

My objection was the feeling I got that the author was bereft of any sense of responsibility for the mess in her life, any sense of maturity or accountability. And because of that, to me, her healing experience isn't grounded in reality. It doesn't resonate as true. And the rapidity with which critics fawned at the profoundness of her experience irritated me no end. Because I wonder what a book would have been like detailing how the author stayed put, and worked through her issues, and took responsibility and made it work. Because those, too, are profound experiences.

It's possible that I am cold and heartless, but a complete lack of empathy and a strong desire to scream "GROW UP" into the pages somewhat diminished my ability to fully appreciate her story.

6 comments:

Crimson Rambler said...

it was disheartening to read about all that ... Italy ... so entirely wasted!

Maureen said...

Excellent post....hear hear!

Jan said...

So well written. Plus, I'm glad to read it, because I've never managed to read that book. Good.

alexis said...

good to know. so many people have told me that it CHANGED THEIR LIVES, so i knew it had to be suspect.

Mary Beth said...

I couldn't agree more. I was so disappointed in that book. What a doofus!

Cindy LaJoy said...

I too enjoyed her writing style, but unlike most of my friends found her to be a little too whiny for my tastes, and utterly immature masquerading as being on a spiritual journey. There IS a difference!