Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Book to Stay Far, Far Away from...

It's an absolute impossibility that you haven't heard of the massively popular book, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's been on Oprah, airport book shelves, and (most unfortunately) my "to-read pile."

I do have a valid excuse as to why I was lured by Ms. Gilbert: I was extremely travel-hungry at the time. I had picked it up while roaming up and down the cement aisles of Costco and it seemed like a nice reprieve from the impending wedding(s), house buying, and finals. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Gilbert is probably the most self-obsessed and ungrateful woman I have had the displeasure of reading about.

She was able to convince her publisher to give her a hefty advance to travel for over a year to Italy, India, and Bali. Not ONCE does she mention the impoverished state of her surroundings and individuals in India. The only time she looks up from her plate in Italy is to lament the fact that she has gained 20 pounds after a steady diet of pasta and self-soothing-self-centered-ness. In Bali, she finds a "Guru" and finds a way to only discuss how he can help her achieve enlightenment and to "please make his wife smile at her more."

The cultures, the countries, the beauty, and the issues these countries face are never really discussed. I felt I was in this aseptic pod, traveling with Gilbert, to all these different locations, and was being forced to NOT look out the window. (Do "aseptic pods" even have windows? Apparently, in my mind, they do.) All these travels ended up being was an excuse to talk more and more about herself. She could have traveled to Lavan, Utah and the book would have been just as entertaining.

Yes, memoirs are about the author's life and experiences, but I don't think Gilbert has any room to talk about loss, pain, suffering, and resurrection. She is an upper, middle-class yuppie, who lived in New York City, left her husband and got to travel the world. Cry about it! Have you read Angela's Ashes, Ms. Gilbert?


  1. Ok... I'm terrified to admit this, but I loved this book. I think I identified with a person who acknowledges that she made every decision that brought her to a life that she hated, and the desire to go on a self-indulgent quest to find yourself. Before you decide we can't be friends anymore, remember that I was in the middle of a divorce when I read it. That should give me a pass, right? I think that were I to read it now, I'd probably notice more about her self-centeredness and cultural idiocy. However, I don't think that because someone's priveledged they don't have a right to feel lost.

  2. I hated this book too, It put me in the crummiest mood, which ruined a perfectly good week on a beach in Florida....and having to make conversation about how "Great" and "Brave" it was with my ex's mother made it even worse.

  3. While I agree that personal situations can endear the protagonists in books we read and feeling lost can be considered a human condition, I refuse to accept what I believe to be an ultimately "American" condition: we have been spoiled with so much excess that we think we deserve MORE. This book was the perfect example of this flawed mindset.

    But I DO think passes can be given out for a few certain individuals that liked this book...even Oprah;)!

  4. Ok, I have to jump in here and say that I loved the book too... but in a "oh, I just made a friend I can go have cocktails with once a month on a Wednesday night" kind of way, not a deep, "we have a standing appointment every Sunday for 2 hour brunch" kind of friend. See? I thought that it was a big deal for her, and that is FOR HER (considering her personality defects)that she did raise all of the $16,000 to build that family's house in Bali - or even thought to do it. She could have just ignored them like she ignored everything else.


Thank you so much for checking out Goldteef! I'd love to hear what you think!

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