Finally got around to reading Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking Penguin, 2006). Truthfully, I was prepared not to like it. The title seemed a little arrogant, which mirrored the opinion of a co-worker who got to it months ago. And hey, you know I'm a little jumpy about classism, so the idea of a Perils-of-Pauline style travelogue by someone who's privileged enough to spend an entire year traveling around the world just didn't appeal. But I'd bought it some time ago (partly on the advice of a dear friend, herself an expat in Bali, who proclaims Gilbert's description of that piece of her journey dead on), and here it is.
As you've probably guessed after all that, I did enjoy the book tremendously, which was a pleasant surprise. For the 3 people out there who haven't heard the buzz, Gilbert had pretty much everything she'd ever wanted by the time she hit her mid-30s -- a successful writing career, a lovely suburban New York home and a Manhattan pied-a-terre, and a husband -- but still wasn't happy. After a bitter divorce and a passionate but troubled rebound affair, she took off in search of the meaning of life -- specifically, spending four months each studying and living pleasure (chiefly food) in Italy, prayer and devotion in a remote Indian ashram, and balance in Bali. Each locale gets its own section, which is further divided into 36 short (2-5 page) chapters or stories. The writing is superb, and made me wish I could transport myself into the midst of any one of her experiences, from being consumed with mosquitos during a twilight meditation to waxing rhapsodic about the best pizza in the world in Naples to trading bawdy jokes that transcend culture with a Balinese folk healer. I sound like a broken record (I rarely meet a book I don't like) but really -- read this one, or just a chapter or 2, if you haven't yet.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.