I swear, this will be my last post featuring Elizabeth Gilbert for at least a week.
But, having written about my experience reading “Eat Pray Love,” and having been counseled by several of you–you clandestine”Eat Pray Love” non-readers and dislikers, you–not to finish it, I feel obliged to report that I did indeed make it to the end. (In case you’ve missed it there is a small “Eat Pray Love” hate-fest going on in the comments section, and I must say that I find it perfectly and hilariously awesome that my blog, of all places, should become a forum for such views.)
In my reading, I encountered two main obstacles. Neither is related to her narcissism. I mean, I know hypocrisy is inevitable, but a girl can try.
My first problem, in fact, has absolutely nothing to do with the author. It’s that, when she talked about Felipe–the Brazilian lover who she finally takes in Bali and who drives her to marriage however-many-millions later–I kept picturing this faculty member in my department who is middle-aged, vaguely Brazilian-looking, and definitely gay. I don’t know why I did this, but without a true image I couldn’t stop and it made the whole scenario quite difficult to believe. It also kept making me think about this woman at the reading I went to who raised her hand merely to thank Gilbert for posting a picture of Felipe on her website, and I felt bad for thinking she was crazy and wished that airplanes had internet.
Second, I just couldn’t get with her on the whole spirituality thing. And I am actually shocked/fascinated that so many millions of readers could. I mean: a Guru?? You want me to read seriously about an Indian Guru?? Maybe it’s the cynical New Yorker in me, but I simply cannot read those two words without my eyes rolling back in my head–much less hundreds of pages on the subject.
I know: it’s in the title, I should have known. And heaven knows the bestseller list is riddled with listings whose popularity I would be hard-pressed to explain. But I really thought I was going to be able to relate to this book wholely. I thought it was basically written for me, and that having waited soo long to read it somehow entitled me to an even greater level of personal appreciation–as though the book were dinner and I’d allowed myself to get really, really hungry.
And clearly, I did find much of it highly relatable: her penchant for recklessly throwing herself into relationships, for example, and her inate need to make fast friends. Also, her ability to go a full month without realizing her bathroom had pink walls. I could totally go months without realizing my bathroom had pink walls.
But as much as I wanted to fully identify with Elizabeth Gilbert (for Christ’s sake, we have the same name!!), I have to admit that I am not her. Which is too bad, because it would be nice to have published five books already and be married to an affable South American.
But before we dispense with her entirely, I would like to take a moment to quote Felipe. Or rather, quote Gilbert quoting Felipe. There is a moment, when she is still resisting his advances, when Gilbert confesses that she may have been more confident about sex when she was a teenager than she is now.
“Of course you were,” he assures her. “…Only the young and stupid are confident about sex and romance.” I thought this was brilliant when I read it, and even more brilliant when, hours later, my 18-year old cousin–who is definitely not stupid but most certainly young–told me that there is no woman he would hesitate to flirt with.
“If Jessica Simpson were here right now, I’d totally hit on her,” he proclaimed.
Which, I thought, was amazing and fabulous. Amazing and fabulous that young men still think Jessica Simpson is hot (I clearly know nothing but would have expected him to say someone younger and more reliably thin). And amazing and fabulous that his ego is so completely untarnished.
If only, instead of relating to Elizabeth Gilbert, I–along with her five million-odd other readers–could better relate to an 18-year old man.