[Note: Today I'm publishing a special guest post from my GoodReads friend and blog author I frequent, Jonniker. Her book reviews on GoodReads usually crack me up, so I wanted to share one (and probably more in the future) with you today. Here's her take on Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. After you read the review, check her blog. She's hilarious and insightful -- hilariously insightful, if you will.]
Eat, Pray, Vomit
Oh, , how you frustrate me. Forgive me for saying so, as this book came so highly recommended by so many people I truly love, but I haven't wanted to punch someone as much as I want to punch Elizabeth Gilbert in a really, truly long time. "One woman's journey," my ass. The premise, if by now you aren't familiar with it -- and if you aren't, might I add that I'm envious of your oblivion, and may I urge you to stop reading this now to protect your innocence? -- is Liz Gilbert's three-country tour through Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself after what she deems as a "painful" divorce. The divorce, by the way, was her choice, and yet she spends an inordinate amount of time making us feel sorry for her, as though she was VICTIMIZED by this man who loved her and wanted to stay married to her, OH BOO HOO. They're called consequences, sister. Learn to live with them.
Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Ultimately, the issue that I had with this book was that I didn't like her -- I didn't like her at ALL -- and without having a sense of compassion for who she is, and what she learns on this journey, I think enjoying the book is a near impossibility. And yet ... by the end I was less vitriolic in my hate for her than I was in the beginning, but I think that can be chalked up to the fact that by Indonesia, she's introduced several characters for us to become emotionally invested in -- real people who are not as self-pitying and self-centered as she is.
But oh, Italy and India. I hated you so. And frankly, I hated her. Her attitude, her smugness, immature behavior all amounted to a person who really needs to be kicked in the ass -- hard -- by a good dose of reality. Put it this way: how much pity would you have for one of your friends who left her husband in a fit of immaturity and got a YEAR -- fully paid -- to do nothing but eat her way through Italy (and really, that's all she does there), do yoga in an Indian ashram and find a way to balance the two (VOMIT) in Indonesia?
I imagine not very much, no? Wouldn't you take her aside and say listen, bitch, quit your complaining, because some of us do this shit EVERY DAY and oh by the way, we also have to WORK and tend to our RESPONSIBILITIES. So GROW UP?
No? Just me then?
I was, and remain, truly mystified by the legion of reviewers who called her self-deprecating and likable, for frankly, any self-deprecation was done in a way that we were meant to find charming and lovable, because wasn't she so HUMBLE and SELF-AWARE? How darling! Oh, Liz!
Ha ha NO. I didn't find her likable at all, and I'll admit, I really wanted to. And I'll admit, I was a bit soured by the concept of running off and "finding yourself" at 34, which seemed ... well, it seemed self-indulgent, and her selfish reaction to everything she saw kind of cemented that idea for me.
In addition, while I understand that non-fiction is largely written and commissioned on spec, I do feel very strongly that the pre-determined publishing agreement took a great deal away from the authenticity of the project. While I admire her business acumen in securing one prior to her travels, on the other hand, how much more would you have admired her if she did it on her own, out of an actual desire to do so, rather than a mercenary, selfish motivation? Doesn't it seem a bit contrived to find yourself because you got a publishing agreement to do so? I'm CERTAIN I could find myself -- even though I have not yet gotten lost -- if someone gave me a year to travel around the world. In fact, I DARE a publisher to come find me and make me an offer.
To put it mildly, I won't be seeing the film. The concept of Liz Gilbert played by Julia Roberts is ... well, let's say it's a bit too much for my gag reflex to bear.
Do you agree or disagree? Let us know.