Eat, Pray, Love

June 17th, 2008 by Rainey

Reading is a salve for my frayed nerves that I all too infrequently am able to indulge in now that I have a baby and a full time job that does not operate on a strict 9-5 rotation.  Yet I do manage to carve some time out of most every day to at least read a chapter of something here or there.  Though I have read very good books since my son was born.  Books like A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow, and Groff’s The Monsters of Templeton (see below), I have also breezed through some more bestseller-ish type books.  I find that these are the books that are probably easiest to review in ten minutes on a blog.  And ten minutes is about all I have left in me for today.  So that is what I’ll do tonight.

I just finished up Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat, Pray, Love the other day.  Here is a brief review.

For one thing, Gilbert can write really well when she feels like it.  Some points kept me less engaged than others.  Though Gilbert talks a good bit up front about what got her to the point of traveling to Italy, India, and Indonesia in an attempt to reclaim and rebalance her life, she begins to gloss over those issues once she arrives at her locations.  Very quickly you begin to wonder how she happens to lead such a charmed life as all this, despite the fact that it is clear her depression and loneliness are quite real.

I also guess I was a little weirded out by the new age-ish quality of her religious beliefs.  I guess I just can’t read this stuff with an objective eye.  Though I appreciated some of the insights she had on faith, for the most part I couldn’t help reading from a hermeneutic of suspicion, sadly.  I guess I am not cut out to be a mystic.

Still, Gilbert is a master of the well-turned phrase and a nice conceit.  Her image of loneliness and depression as two “pinkerton detectives” was well done and charming, despite her subject.  I found myself struck by the way she described relationships and the way she captured the voices of her friends like Richard from Texas.  Clearly, Gilbert is a people-person.  A charmer and an extrovert who is able to make friends, by her own account, very easily.  It is this skill that allows her to thrive in new environments.  And it is this characteristic that, in the end, reels in the reader.  I found that I liked being around her.  I wanted to hear what she had to say–even if I didn’t always know if I agreed with some of her thoughts on God.  And I cared about what happened in her life.

So, if you are looking for a quick read and someone who will befriend you with her prose, check it out.  It will probably make you crave large amounts of pasta, quiet spaces and vacation, and warm beaches.  But is that so wrong?

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