I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love in three serious sittings, punctuated by a few more fleeting encounters.
I am a guy. This is an excellent book. The previous two facts are ones that you could have never have reconciled together.
I was curious to read this book after reading a review in the NYT about Ms. Gilbert’s followup book on marriage, Committed. I heard about the usual hype about the book through my female friends and on TV. And as I am on my journey towards non-snobbery, I decided to pick up this book out of curiousity. Will I figure out how the female mind works? Will it be new-age drivel?
Yes. And No. Answers to the questions. This book has one of the most cogent and deft arguments for a multi-faith world that I have ever read. Gilbert doesn’t knock down traditional faiths nor does she water everything down; she gives all faiths, even if she has a preference, equal measure.
In many ways, Eat, Pray, Love is a New York book. Gilbert is incredibly well-educated and stupidly well-read. I’m in awe of her intellect and knowledge. I learnt so much, just from the back story or the background research. And her wry humour that seems to permeate everywhere, in every sad or funny or maddening moment, grows on you after a while. It’s New York in how it manages to bring together everything — cuisines, philosophical traditions, cultures — as if you’re snailing down Broadway Avenue armed with a time-lapse camera, capturing all detail and all bird’s eye at the same time.
I’m desperate to go to Italy now and eat, and explore, like she did. And I’m desperate to find my own ‘Liz’ and woo her like Felipe did. I am not one to oversimplify books, but the whole book can be seen as a pursuit of true, conscious, uninhibited life. And I don’t just want to imitate or follow her steps; I want to follow my own path, infused with her energy.
The main thing, obviously, is that a guy read a book, written by a woman and meant for a woman, and walked away feeling short of breath. I don’t have a vagina and I haven’t been divorced. But it would be crude murder to deny that I thoroughly identified with this woman. Her love of culinary satiation, her intense experience of romance — both dream and reality –, and the magma-like intensity of her meta-experience, thinking about everything, worrying about everything, narrating everything at the speed of Woody Allen. It’s a bit hard to admit when you think of yourself as the next guy, but you actually let out a feminine moan when you finish the book.
What else can one say? I’m still in some kind of post-coital glow and pant that can only be induced by a book that has left you wanting more out of life.