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Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

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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.

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About Mina Demian

  • zaza

    I hate d book hate hate hate IT!! Never met anyone so needy & clingy, why did she cry again?? I think it’s just a case of 7 years itch, but exaggerated, obviously she has money, not everyone can just take one whole year of holiday around the world..So really can see the meaning of the book I hv a 7 year disable son and had more 10 surgeries and I didn’t even blink, OMG int’l best seller?? Really???

  • smee

    very well written – it’s interesting that you keep pressing the fact that you’re a male. The book would be shelved as a chick’lit – but the journey of trying to find our place in the sun is pretty androgynous – I think your take would scare most men off – rather than encourage them to read it – assuming that either of those were your intention.

  • http://www.midiane.com Midiane

    @Zaza: many people share your views about Liz, at some point, I also felt that a bit, but I guess in the end, the book came out on a whole for me.

    @Smee: thanks for your comment. Well, I kept on pressing the fact definitely not because I wanted male kudus. :) As some context, I wrote this right in one take after finishing the book, so it came out as it was in my mind. I had neither end in my mind when I wrote this; I was just sharing my raw thoughts and feelings about the book. Probably, with a few more edits, I could have made this palatable to the Joe holding a Bud in his hand!

    Keep the comments coming…

  • uni

    I think Eat, pray, love is a book that will appeal to most people, although the press it received did indeed push it towards the “damaged” female audience. When life throws us in the deep end – we all wish we could up and get away from the situation we find ourselves in, but this books shows us that we don’t have to be running “away”, we can be running “to” what is waiting for us – and what is indeed our destiny. There is a lot of spirituality overtones in the book that resonated with me when I was reading it, maybe because I too was one of those damaged females, trying to find sense in life. As much as I believe in an existential existence, sometimes the universe gives you a nudge to get you back on the path, which is what happened to Elizabeth. I don’t think anyone would be dissapointed. You don’t have to love the protaganist, or even like her for that matter. You can think she’s a weepy, clingy annoying female, but each of us can identify with her need to find her purpose.

  • http://www.svmoms.com Jill Asher

    Loved, LOVED, LOOOOVED the book.
    Hated the movie.
    Was totally disappointed, beyond words.