Let me start by saying for the record, when this book came out, I devoured it. Devoured it. Just like Elizabeth Gilbert, I would have loved to run away to some godforsaken spot on the opposite end of the planet and rediscover myself by way of food and foreign language and vows of silence.
But now? Now I’m over it. And here’s why:
- The book was released in 2006, two or so years before institutions around the world began falling like dominos, before Fannie and Freddie jacked up our mortgage system and the banks jacked up our lending system. Things are a lot different now. Greed and materialism are bad words. Consumers are more vigilant, a whole hell of a lot more skeptical, and we take issue with CEOs who pay themselves stupid amounts of money while their companies crumble all around them. This is 2010, and this woman’s tale is now set against a greater backdrop of government bailouts and soaring unemployment. A woman who escapes her life and eats gelato in Italy, hangs out with monks in India, and yes, even falls in love on a beach in Indonesia is nowadays downright frivolous.
- Elizabeth is just so me, me, me! And yes, I realize the book is a memoir and talking about herself in it is, ultimately, the author’s entire point, but still. Get over yourself already so we can go back to figuring out what we’re going to do about the flooding in Pakistan and those poor miners in Chile and the melting of the icecaps and all the millions of people in the United States without proper health care.
- Julia Roberts. I’m over her, too.
- It can give other people the wrong idea. I know a couple who, if you ask them why they got divorced, will point to that book. Apparently, the wife read it, decided there was a bigger, better world out there for her somewhere, and went in search of it. Without her husband. Yeah, yeah, of course I get that this isn’t the real reason they divorced, of course I do. In order to just up and leave a marriage that’s spanned more than a decade and spawned four kids, there has to be so much more back story than “I read this book.” The realization the relationship wasn’t working was already in there somewhere, hiding behind work and the laundry and bedtime stories, but I will forevermore make the link between the book and this messy divorce, and you know what? I’ll bet you money there are a million other stories just like this one floating around out there.
- If I am to accept the premise that Eat Pray Love is a spiritual guide about how a woman like me can find herself, then please tell me just how the hell plunking down my hard-earned cash on candles and Buddha statues and jewelry and moisturizing cream and furniture (furniture?) will help me along in my spiritual journey. That’s right, the Home Shopping Network, Cost Plus World Market, even Saks and Bloomingdales are selling products that tie into the brand, and as a result, the book’s message of spiritual enlightenment gets lost in the greed of consumerism. (And can we please go back up and reread reason number 1?) Somebody is getting rich on this, people, but I ain’t buying it.
So I will see you, as they say, at the movies. The other movies.