While my recent Yoga Shame post was contentious, I'm very aware that writing this next post may get me excommunicated from the Blogosphere, so i am writing this at my OWN peril...
I don't like Eat Pray Love.
Please believe me when i say I wanted to love it. As a single gal I wanted to soak it in and be inspired by her journey of independence and revelations; I wanted it to be a book i felt moved to keep with me at all times, a book i would scribble notes in and underline passages in pencil.
But that just didn't happen.
Simply put, I didn't like the way she wrote it - it read like one very long magazine article, a style of writing that works for 2,000 words in a glossy publication but not, for me at least, in a book. I have only read the book once, and no longer have it in my possession so i can't double-check, but my overall impression was that the Italy section was superfluous, the India section touched on interesting things but felt rather forced (a stay in an ashram that didn't have a spiritual experience attached to it could still have been powerful), and Bali was forgettable and self-centred, with a panic to find a bloke at the end. I hated the ending. It felt like such a cop-out, as if she thought her book should end with a relationship so she jumped on the nearest guy. I would have been more moved if she'd ended the story as a strong single woman, ready to take her newly acquired self-knowledge back to America to start writing her book and start mindfully living her new path.
The book didn't hold any surprises for me. It read as i feared it would read: a wee bit surface, with not enough grit or texture. Just like a magazine article. I seem to remember that she was commissioned to write the book/take the trip, so that in itself threw up a few question marks for me. Can we plan to go and find ourselves in this way? Or does it just happen when you least expect it, when you're doing the dishes or walking through the park on a warm autumn day. I know that if i planned a trip to those three countries, my experience would probably be a lot more pedestrian than that of Ms Gilbert's. Maybe the book jarred with me because i've found my own revelations in the humdrum normality of my everyday life. The idea of going to another country to find what we're looking for is so seductive, so incredibly appealing, that i can understand why this book is beloved by so many; I'm catching a flight to Canada tomorrow, and as i haven't been on a plane in two years i'm excited, hoping some travel will stretch my mind out of its day-to-day shape. But i also know that my deepest searchings, and my most excavated self, were found in the quiet moments sitting at home, journeying inside rather than outside.
I tried to read the book again recently, hoping i'd find the deeper meaning that I'd obviously overlooked, but i didn't make it past the first ten pages - her tone just alienates and irritates me. I have since given the book away. It's just not meant to be. But you know what the irony is? I'd love my Unravelling book to be as popular and well-received at EPL - who wouldn't? I remember when i bought EPL I was hoping it would inspire me to start writing my own story - a story i've been penning in pieces since 2005 after he died - but what actually happened was i discovered the style i didn't want my book to be written in. I'm not saying I'm going to be writing high-falutin' literature - far from it! - but i guess i envision more poetry woven through it. And more everyday textures.
I'm sure there were parts of EPL that i enjoyed, and paragraphs and turns of phrase that spoke to me, and I am not knocking anyone who loves the book. Hell, that's why so many books are published each year - so that there is something to suit everyone's tastes. And i must take my hat off to Elizabeth Gilbert - she got the book deal, she took the trip and she wrote the book. And she's enjoyed fantastic success from it while touching people's lives, and we need lots more of that good stuff. I fully support any woman who has work published as it is a long-held dream of mine too; if i was to put my words into book form and send them out into the world i know I would open myself up to criticism too, and I've often wondered how that would feel, considering how brutal a negative blog comment can feel.
So in summary, I know many of my blogging peers enjoyed Eat Pray Love, and for some reason I felt the need to hold up my hand and admit that i didn't. I did, however, really enjoy her recent TED talk; i just wish she'd written the book in the same voice she used that day.