books Eat, Pray, Love –

A celebrated writer s irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early onslaught midlife crisis She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want a husband, a house, a successful career But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world all alone Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty three happiest pounds of her life India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way unexpectedly An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society s ideals It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change. 14 septemper 2014 13 5 2015 Wow, this book took me on a roller coaster ride I couldn t decide if I loved it or hated it and it seemed like every few pages I d go from thinking Gilbert was delightfully witty to thinking this was the most horribly self absorbed person to ever set foot on the earth In the end the overall effect was rather like sitting at a party listening to someone tell a long involved story all about themselves, and you re alternately annoyed and fascinated and you want to get up and leave but she s just so entertaining that you keep telling yourself you ll leave in the next minute and so you end up sticking through the whole thing WARNING LOOONG REVIEW AHEAD I didn t hate Eat, Pray, Love, but it left me really unsatisfied When I first started reading the book, I couldn t help rolling my eyes and thinking Here we go, another tale of a precious, privileged woman who is unsatisfied with her life I stuck with it though and was charmed through the Italy section by Gilbert s humor and down to earth writing style Still, for a woman who abandons everything in search of a true spiritual experience, she leaves most of the important questions unanswered I felt that Gilbert projects herself so strongly onto every place and every person she encounters that I m not sure what she really learnt along the way.As delightful as the Italy section was to read, I felt like she never really stepped out of herself to understand the country on its own terms and to move beyond the stereotype Despite it being a bit of a superficial assessment, I have no problem with Gilbert associating Italy with pleasure There is enough beauty there to warrant it.It was her interpretation of what it means to open oneself to pleasure that bothered me and seemed very narrow For Gilbert this consisted mostly of overindulging in foods and allowing herself to put on weight It seemed like she came to Italy thinking she already knew how to experience pleasure and proceeded to enact it based on her definition even though there are indications that the Italian interpretation of pleasure is not merely restricted to this I would have liked to see her explore what it meant to devote herself to pleasure just as seriously and reverently as she seemed to take the meditative experiences in India Overall though, my biggest problem with this book was I had difficulty at times believing Gilbert achieved the enlightenment she talks about because she is so internally focused Most importantly I still have not really grasped why it was necessary for her to travel to these 3 places.I understand that her intention was not for this book to be a travelogue but it begs the question, Why was it necessary to go to Italy, India and Indonesia if the purpose was to not to gain something from them that could not be found elsewhere In every country Gilbert created a little security blanket of expat friends who seemed to cushion her from really understanding the lessons the countries had to offer on their own terms Why go to India to meet Richard the big Texan Guru, for example Why not just go to Texas For those of us with eyelids only half caked with dirt but who can t uproot our lives and travel to countries of our choosing is enlightenment still an option I wanted Gilbert to talk about how anyone with an ordinary life but who is searching for insight could still balance spiritual yearning with duty And that s my final peeve about this book I wondered if Gilbert had any sense of duty or sense of obligation to anything beyond herself Gilbert seems to recognize the bonds of duty that restrict the locals she encounters Yet, she somehow paints them as pleasurable or inevitable yokes for the people who bear them Her detached observations of life and death rituals in India and Indonesia as though they are restricted to those parts of the world made me want to shake her and say but there are rituals everywhere you have made a conscious decision to remove yourself from the ones you know I ask about duty not because I wanted Gilbert to stay in a loveless marriage but because the concept of duty is also linked to a concept of justice What is it that we ought to do What do we owe each other Part of me felt that Gilbert took comfort in the non dual aspects of Eastern philisophies in a strange way She seemed almost relieved that the non duality of existence would ensure that one would not necessarily be punished by the universe for selfish deeds I felt like Gilbert embraced that aspect of the philosophy without realizing the equal importance those cultures place on the balancing notions of reciprocity, duty, of being social beings in the truest sense often taking it to the other negative extreme The lack of sense of obligation to anyone other than herself made Gilbert seem curiously dead to the contradictions around her She didn t seem perturbed at the abject poverty of the Indian women around her, or to question if it was just She never wondered how a spiritual person should grapple with the injustice of the world, nor did she seem to question the rightness of living in the midst of poverty in an artificial environment created to specifically cater to pampered Westerners In Indonesia, she finally seems to see beyond herself to the suffering of others but when she does try to help someone it seems impulsive and done almost with carelessness so that the whole thing almost becomes a big mess.After all of this, the end of the book just seemed to fall flat as Gilbert tried to wrap things up quickly, crowning it all of course with a romance with a doting and exotic lover This book had a lot of potential but ultimately it seemed like a story about one woman s sense of entitlement and her inability to ever quite move beyond that though she does make some valiant efforts to do so. WHY I cringe to think why so many women want to feel that this was a true spiritual journey It was a pre paid journey The woman starts off with telling us over and over about how painful her divorce was, however she dismisses how it ever came to be that way Leaving her audience only to guess it was so horrible she had to leave and find herself.When asked in an interview if dumping her husband and pushing off wasn t selfish, here is what Ms Gilbert had to say What is it about the American obsession with productivity and responsibility that makes it so difficult for us to allow ourselves a little time to solve the puzzle of our own lives, before it s too late This statement alone tells so much A responsibility towards a marriage and spouse is considered an unwanted obsession and one s own pursuit of happiness supercedes everything else If a man decided to dump his wife and family to flee to the Himalayas to meditate we wouldn t be calling it a spiritual journeywe would call it irresponsibility India This when she got just a little too proud of herself I grew so tired of her boasting about how all her decisions led to a higher plan of consciousness and a new appreciation for life and a new understanding of the universe at large And Bali was even worse I was hoping the little old guy didn t remember her Didn t that whole episode just turn out a little too cutely And then she fell off her bike She met her doctor friend, and bought her a house And met an old guy, and then she did things to herself And then she slept with the old guy And of course she s better at that than any of us because she is now enlightened And then she made a little rhyming couplet of a life in Australia, America, Bali, and Brazil Double cringe.Italy The author s angst and shallow self discovery and pretend real people met with the express purpose of reflecting what she would like to learn lessons that most of us will have learned far earlier in life before interesting lessons presented themselves To quote a phrase from the Italy section of this book, cross the street if you dare to even glance in a bookstore window and entertain a thought of buying this book Elizabeth Gilbert has no ideas about life Not only does she have nothing to teach, she has nothing to say This book is so vicarious that it reveals a profound and deeply disturbing ignorance about the complexities of real life The author s observations about life are simplistic and her insights so embarrassingly undeveloped and unsophisticated that she comes across as a detached observer There are very few passages in this book that reveal any real sense of transformation in her life She never really seems to glean anything authentic or deeply affecting from any of her experiences And because she has gained nothing, she has nothing to offer The reader is frustrated and unable to connect with her on any level This memoir not only lacks readability, it lacks any real humanity She is right when she says that she is not a traveler she does not have the heart or spirit of a true traveler because she somehow remains deeply unaffected She is merely a tourist, a spectator, barely scratching the surface of the lands she traverses, the people she encounters, and the experiences of what it means to be human She fails to see the poverty that surrounds her, or maybe she sees it She definitely never writes about it, maybe because it is not part of the road to any enlightenment.In spite of her year long journey she is still unable to gain true insight or wisdom from her pain and struggles There is no profoundness in her journey, whether it is personal or physical This book is just a simple walk through a simple mind She is not even a good enough writer to be able to cleverly disguise her childlike observations in beautifully crafted language I would rather read the trail journals of a young backpacker any day At least they are real After reading the book, I wondered how it found its way to the bestseller list I was perplexed by its popularity So I did some research As it turns out Eat, Pray, Love is an ideal industry example of how a publishing company can create a best seller from the printing of a trade paperback In hard cover, this book only generated mediocre book sales in the year in was published However, someone at Penguin adopted it as a darling and created a hard core campaign to sell the trade paperback.Well when they said here s 200, 000 dollars Elizabeth, now go travel and don t forget to eat, pray, and love when you come back I will get you the best editor and we will both feel enlightened So shallow, I cringe I cringe even for the women that buy into such shallowness.If you really want to live with intention, live your journey here and now YOUR here and now.This book gets Zero stars. Eat Pray Love is the monologue of a Neurotic American Princess Liz in her mid thirties The first few chapters background the rest of the book, a confessional that tells how she came to find her 8 year marriage distasteful, realised she wasn t keen on the next logical step which is apparently to fill her expansive apartment with children, and plunges into an impotent depression Without even getting drunk.One night, whilst bawling on the bathroom floor, a habit she has grown fond of, she is struck by a flakey attack of twattery Being an American, this experience manifests itself as finding some kind of God or thereabouts Naturally, she resolves to leave her husband Her husband isn t keen on this development, and, Liz finds that, strangely, he takes poorly to having his heart shattered into a million pieces.Husband behaves badly, and our protagonist feels hurt and sad But, no matter, because before long Liz hooks up with the sexy, exciting yoga chanting David, who takes a five minute break from his headlong charge toward floaty Thai fisherman s pants, a thin ponytail and male pattern baldness to rattle her well bred bones Liz drinks deeply from lust s stagnant well.But divorce negotiations do drag on, leaving Liz, once again, bawling on the bathroom floor This time however, it s David s bathroom floor And David, it seems, is unimpressed by such displays It seems men are interested in women for their unique and interesting qualities, and unless you are Bob Dylan, melancholy gets old, fast Incidentally, if you find a chap who does like this constant emo drama, then run.Here s what really bothers me about this book Eat Pray Love is a New York Times bestseller It was recommended to me by a friend, a woman, who is a successful publisher in her own right According to her, this is the best book she has read this year It s been a short year.In short, she isn t given to fawning excesses that one might expect from anyone who doesn t think this book should have been printed on softer paper I think 3 ply would about do it So I was surprised by her ringing endorsement.I am told, you see, that women get this book Which means they sympathise and understand it I bet its on Oprah s Fucking Book List.With this in mind, here s what I will say when I am invited to Oprah s Fucking Book club feminist rant Women You will get to the end of this book and may still be under the illusion that it is not your responsibility to make yourself happy Whereas, it is, in fact, your own responsibility to make yourself happy Being happy without being with a man does not trivialise love You should find challenges, entertainment, fun, excitement, passion, the thrill of mastery and satisfaction of achievement through your own doings, not who you are doing Love might enhance this It cannot substitute this.Can you imagine if men felt so incomplete without women When did is become acceptable for men to be our projects When did it become acceptable for women to be defined by their men , as if something less than this arrangement denigrates the sanctity of a relationship Fuck until I read this book I thought I d dealt feminism a crippling blow by jack knifing the trailer this morning I look like Susan Sontag in gumboots compared to this book.In EPL, the author s only explanation for her pathetic simpering twattery is that she is as affectionate as a cross between a Golden Retriever and a barnacle This is supposed to tell us why her sex life resembles pollen in a strong breeze.To her, and all other Oprah book clubbers who get this book get a Golden Retriever Or barnacles Or maybe a Golden Retriever with barnacles But for sweet knit one purl one Christ, leave this book on the shelf Post Script I m not anti American, I lived there and many of the best people I know are Americans I have, however, noticed a peculiar enthusiasm for Godliness in the land of the free.