Yes, there’s some crow around here, and I’m eating it.
This memoir came out 7 years ago, and I absolutely refused to read it. It was getting so much press, and I swear wicked ugly sparks fire off in my brain when a book gets this kind of press. Plus, it sounded self-helpy and I’m allergic to that section in the bookstore. Plus, I was sure the whole story was prefabricated: Writer goes on manufactured trip to “find herself” so she can have cool experiences with the whole purpose being to write about her cool experiences.
Blech, and blech.
Everybody was reading this book, and by everybody I mean every single woman I know. Everybody but me. My good friend Mary Helen even sent me the book for my birthday with the specific instructions to read the story out of order: “Think about starting with Pray/India, and then reading Love/Indonesia, finishing with Eat/Italy.”
I thanked her, of course, but I’m pretty sure I also rolled my Book-Snob-Eyes and shoved the book into a dark corner where I wouldn’t have to look at it. No way was I reading this nonsense.
Fast forward 7 years. I’m reading every decent memoir I can get my hands on to see how they (the writers) do it: what’s the story vs. the situation, options for structure, how to handle backstory, present tense or past tense and why, titled or untitled chapters, etc…
I finally pulled EAT PRAY LOVE out of its dark corner and forced myself to read the introduction and to follow my friend’s instructions. I liked it. I liked it and then I loved it. Loved it so much I want to give it to every woman I know over 30 and say, You should probably read this. Read it out of order. Start with India, then Indonesia, then Italy.
Do you remember that this book was released at the same time as WAKING and I hated it? I hated her for getting a huge advance…for being paid to travel the world writing a book about wisdom and faith after a divorce. PLEASE! And I never read it, mind you, I just “knew” it had to be trash. Then, when I was separating from Matt, I begrudgingly picked it up and read it. Now it is one of my favorite books with ear marks and a bent spine. I think I will pick it up again. I could use a shot of wisdom and faith right now! (BTW, our similar experiences never cease to amaze me! 🙂
Yes!! And I also remember thinking at the time: This woman is 30 years old. How much insight can she really have? And she’s getting paid BEFORE writing the book, to travel the world?
My mother would have said, “You’re just jealous.” Um, yes. Like I said, gimme some big fat crow to eat.
I had the same reaction, and for the same reasons. Anything that smacks of self-help is automatically off the table for me. But maybe…maybe…
It’s always funny to me how books come to you when they’re supposed to. Is it a coincidence that I just happened to pick up this book from my friend Mary Helen, and was reading the Pray section, when I decided I had to go home and help my aunt Mary Ellen?
I’d always hoped that someone would pen a rebuttal like, “Eat, Pray, Love, and Kill Zombies” or something like that ;-).
This means it’s open for you to write it !!
I loved this book unapologetically almost as much as I hated the movie.
I think I’m finally at the point in my life that I can read a book about a romance, about food, about spirituality, and know that there is a good chance I’m going to like it. It doesn’t make me any better of a a writer to cut somebody else down because they aren’t liter-ah-ture. Sometimes I’d rather just feel the story than analyze it, you know?
I was surprised by how much research she did and how she (seamlessly) used that research to support her arguments. Arguments that were often with herself. There was so much more insight than I expected, about how/why women do what we do, and about how we make choices.
i too loved this book from the get-go, including the excerpt that was published in my equally loved Oprah magazine that started the ball rolling.
(i also LOVE self-help books. love them. meditation. yoga. career. WRITING. women food god. beck. williamson. roth–geneen, not phillip–but you know this about me already; i’m helpless.)
when gilbert was first making her book tour rounds, she was at our local indie bookstore for an event; it was right before the book started really catching on and the reading was in a small space with maybe 50/70 chairs set up. at the time, i had been doing morning pages/artist way stuff for a few years and was feeling the drag of not knowing what i was doing with my writing or what i should be doing. anyway, at the Q&A i asked her how the book came to be, had she pitched the very story she wrote? had she already started her travels and the book when she pitched it?
she looked at me and said something to the affect of, “i’ve been doing a writing practice for years, morning pages from julia cameron’s book the artist’s way, and had written this plan out in those pages…where i wanted to go, what i wanted to do there, how i wanted to write about it, and then i pitched it.” i don’t remember much of what she said after that. it was like a nod from someone who had dome something i could only dream about, telling me i was on the right path.
anyway. i loved her book before that, and her ever since that.
Well now I love her, too. I’m looking at her new novel and wondering if I would like it —- of course the new novel is not a memoir so it’s a whole other animal, but I do like her writing style.
Oy, the self help. I know exactly when I became allergic. I read so much of this stuff when I was lost in my 20s and thought “great idea!” but rarely/never implemented any of the suggestions. Then I started realizing that they weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know, so I was wasting my money and my time — I knew how to do better, be better, I just didn’t want to do it. Kind of like watching exercise videos and never actually exercising …. at some point I had to stop reading out how to do it “right” and just start moving.
I had that same initial feeling. Bandwagons scare me. I finally picked it up at the airport one day and was so pleasantly surprised. I loved it! In fact, I enjoyed it so much I refuse to ever see the movie. There’s simply no way it could compare.
The movie is a whole other deal. The same, yet not the same AT ALL, like distant cousins.
I was the same Teri. Before and after!
I had read one of her novels and loved it (Stern Men?). I thought the book was a train-wreck. I couldn’t stand it, but I couldn’t look away. It was the enlightenment part that killed me.
STILL haven’t read this either and hated the film (saw it on the plane and it was painful) but I recently read a New York Times Mag article which spoke about her long writing career, her determination, generosity amd talent. Some of sounds a little clunky – her having practically bought up the whole town and frequent references to money, but I just thought Good On You.
I love this book too Teri. I remember you and Candice giving me a hard time about reading it. Can’t wait to get back to my books to read this again–out of order.