Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love— yawn


Okay, let me begin by saying that Gilbert’s 2007 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, is well written, in a modern chick-lit meets spiritual journey sort of way. This book has been well received by reviewers and readers alike, and has sales stats that I could only dream of when I am farther from reality than either sleep or intoxication could ever take me.

Yet, I read a bit, and after a chuckle or two, I yawn and put it down. I have been doing this for days now, and as I am reading this for research, I will endeavor to finish it. Still, my heart isn’t in it. Over and over, I have asked myself why I don’t care for this book. After all, the millions of folks who have read it, recommended it, and purchased it could not be wrong.

Therefore, I embarked upon a spiritual journey to see why I am not whizzing through its pages. Gilbert’s journey takes a year; mine took about half an hour, because I have laundry to do, lessons to plan, others to help.

First, I do not read much nonfiction, and I almost never read biography or autobiography, so that may be a reason for my lack of interest. When I was a teenager, mom guided my reading, and she told me that I should read biography from time to time. My memory of that has faded a bit, but I remember standing at the biography section at the Piedmont Regional Library in Winder, GA, perusing the shelves. Finally, I selected a biography of Mae West, which I did read from cover to cover, but I don’t remember many details. Years later, my youngest sister gave me a copy of Carpenters, a biography of Richard and Karen Carpenter, which, due to Karen’s untimely death, was far more about her than about her brother. I really enjoyed it, because I love their music so much, but as for the details, most of what I remember is that I gained five pounds while reading about Karen’s bout with anorexia nervosa.

Secondly, Ms. Gilbert’s spiritual journey is all about herself. While she is not at all arrogant in her approach, indeed, I admire her ability to be self-deprecating as she explains her feelings and actions—the narrative is all about her. Seldom does she speak of others, and when she does, these persons are there to further explain Gilbert’s feelings about herself. She either reacts to these fellow humans or projects her own feelings upon them. Despite the good humor, the cosmopolitan settings, and the quest for spiritual balance, the whole thing is about self...self...and still more self.

And so I am along for the journey, as Ms. Gilbert works through her desire to eat, pray, and love. Readers want to identify with the narrator, and I quickly realized that I have little in common with this one. So, I continue to yawn and hope the author finds something to care about other than herself as my bookmark moves slowly toward the end.

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