I've grown curious to read this book over the years, because I've noticed that it's become a lightning rod for contempt. It's often used as a stand inI've grown curious to read this book over the years, because I've noticed that it's become a lightning rod for contempt. It's often used as a stand in for Books That Are Not Worthy, and I wanted to know why. I'm especially fascinated because Elizabeth Gilbert's other books have received a lot of critical acclaim, but many readers are quick to point out that, even if they like her other work, they haven't liked (or even read) Eat, Pray, Love because it's beneath them. So interesting!
One of my friends who's an academic as well as an avid romance reader has talked about the reasons the romance genre gets a bad rap — she points out that it's "(1) commercial fiction, (2) written by women, (3) consumed by women, (4) with happy endings, (5) positive about love and sex, (6) about WOMEN having and enjoying sex." A lot of these conditions also apply to Eat, Pray, Love, and I can't help but wonder if the contempt for this book is really just contempt for women who explore the world, pursue pleasure and enjoyment, and come back home to write about it.
In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is a young woman in a very unhappy marriage. She explores this unhappiness carefully and thoughtfully, eventually making the heartbreaking decision to leave her marriage. She plummets into a despair so dark that she considers ending her life, but then she has a series of spiritual experiences that lead her to choose happiness and life instead.
The rest of the book is quite a bit more whimsical, mystical, and starry-eyed — a few years after surviving the grief of her destroyed marriage, Gilbert sets out on a year-long trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia. And she enjoys herself! The prose sparkles with joy and wit, and she gets me laughing while she cavorts at Roman soccer games and stuffs herself with Neapolitan pizzas. Then, after some seriously intense metaphysical experiences in India, she winds up in Bali where she falls in love with a hot silver fox and lots of smooching ensues. What's not to love here — I don't get it!
The character of "Elizabeth Gilbert" in Eat, Pray, Love is kooky and adventurous, not unlike Bill Bryson ambling off to sample a little of this and that on offer from the world. She's not a perfect person, but she's not trying to be — who is? We don't often see stories where women are allowed to be self-indulgent, but good on her for fighting her way out of a terrible situation to become a carefree, spirited young woman who travels the world and has fun writing about it. The more stories like this that are out there in the world, the better....more
What was billed as a book about a girl and her motorcycle turned out to be something much bigger and weirder, in an awesome way. Reno is a sexy youngWhat was billed as a book about a girl and her motorcycle turned out to be something much bigger and weirder, in an awesome way. Reno is a sexy young thing trying to break into the performance art scene in 1970s New York. She's tall, blonde, naïve, rides an Italian motorcycle, and she's in love with all the wrong men. If The Flamethrowers were an obscure art house flick, it would have the ooh-lah-lah-ness of Belle du Jour meets the cool machismo of Paris, Texas plus a ridiculously hot cast. The story follows her from the Salt Flats to the Bowery to a violent Red Brigades rally in Rome, exploring enormous arty themes like time, speed, truth, sex, desire, labor, violence, and war, all with a stripped down swagger. It took practically the whole thing to win me completely over, but ultimately it's one of the better books I read from 2013 and I'm glad I stuck with it.
(Christina Traister has a great voice for the audio version, but I was super distracted by a few weird mispronunciations like New York's "Houston Street" and Rome's "Cinecittà.")...more
This book is BEAUTIFUL and makes my mouth water in a big big way. Ooh, the photos are just lovely! I remember big, plump, purple eggplants. . . But saThis book is BEAUTIFUL and makes my mouth water in a big big way. Ooh, the photos are just lovely! I remember big, plump, purple eggplants. . . But sadly, the recipes are a little hard to follow. Many of the Italian ingredients and measurements didn't translate very well to English in this edition....more