I don’t like to think of myself as someone who takes pleasure in gaining from the misfortune of others — in this case, Elizabeth Gilbert’s separation from her husband; a union she famously wrote about in “Eat, Pray, Love”— but I have not felt this inspired to blog since Betty Draper was sentenced to a cancer death.
Look, I’m not worried about Elizabeth Gilbert. EG will be just fine. Give her a Ted Talk, an advance on a book about polyamorous Chinese family systems, and a vegan meal and all this divorce stuff will be yesterday’s news.
Wait, am I making fun of a very smart woman who has helped women all over the world get in touch with their inner-entitled white lady?
Am I a “hater?”
Possibly. I’m willing to entertain that notion. I am not above petty snark packaged in cultural critique. Something EG would never, I imagine, participate in. WHICH IS WHY SHE ANNOYS ME.
Look, I’m sorry she’s getting divorced. (Though, I am more sorry for her “Felipe” guy.) But single or divorced, she’s still one of my favorite people to make fun of. She’s like the Billy Joel of intelligent memoir. It’s not that she’s dumb, she’s a brilliant writer. But I’m pretty sure that there has never been a whiter female writer in the history of literature. Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen, put together do not reach the blinding shade of pale EG makes worse by her sheer obliviousness about it.
So, she’s a white person. But what else is it that bugs me? Is it her confident virtuosity? Or that she has less of a sense of irony than Patrick Swayze or David Hasselhoff (are my references too old)? Or that she profited so greatly from the “journey of self-discovery” memoir genre? Or that her “journey of self-discovery” memoir ended in a way that would please Hollywood or any patriarchy, which is, with the acquisition of a man? Or that she inspired so many other women to go on their own narcissistic journeys, thus, inspiring the new book, “Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It?”
Are these genuinely irritating realities why she annoys so much? Yes. But there’s something else; one thing that grates me beyond all others. And I think that’s her emphasis on Truth. She talks a lot about “truth.” “Standing in your truth.” “Seeking truth.” The truth is that she’s a white blond lady who went to a third world country and got what she needed. She won the genetic lottery. She leveraged her talents in the literary world, whether intentional or not, to great avail. And she partakes in travel because it’s pleasurable and fun. That doesn’t make her evil, but she’s not Nelson Mandela. She wants to eat, sure, she’ll pray, if it brings her sex/love.
To be honest, I wanted to write the “Eat, Pray Love” of salsa dancing. Sample title: “Dance, Sweat, Tell Everyone To Go @#$ Themselves.”
I just realized that I gave away her book about marriage,”Committed,” which I respected far more than “Eat, Pray, Love.” I thought “Committed” consisted of excellent research and questions. I can’t say I’m surprised that her marriage didn’t work out. But I’m still glad I read it. It was real.
Here’s my unsolicited advice for EG to try to win over cynics like me: Stop with the “truth” and the “courage” and the heroism, stop trying to be good. Own that you make money and wanted to leave your husband for maybe someone better. Be bad, if you want. Be a hater. Be a bitch. Nobody said you had to be a savior to be a writer.