Friday, July 16, 2010
BookLook Review in time for the movie
“Eat, Pray, Love”
On August 16th the movie version of this book comes out. I guarantee the movie will be better than the book. This goes against all that I believe – the book is always better than the movie. But this was a book with lots of empty parts that could be discarded. I think Julia Roberts is bound to improve the story and the storyteller.
Our life is made up of choices. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book about her choice to divorce her husband and using the advance money for this book travel for a year to find some meaning in her life. The subtitle she chose was: “One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia”. I have some better subtitles: “Around the World in a Daze”; or “Gullible’s Travels”. Or perhaps the less subtle title: “Dump All Responsibility so You Can Travel Without Baggage.”
Gilbert does write with a sense of humor and I found myself chuckling during the first third of the book as she describes Italy and the joy of pasta and gelato. These foods do have curative powers even if you have to buy larger size jeans after a few months. Leaving Italy she tries to become spiritual by visiting an ashram in India. Will a few months of seclusion with a guru to guide her actions and thoughts cure her self-esteem issues? Will she finally stop crying? Alas, no. Next it is on to Bali to find balance between pasta and the lotus position - interesting choice Bali. This Indonesian island filled with corruption and superstition does provide a Brazilian expat named Felipe with whom she has an affair. Meaning at last?
I believe the author’s claim that her travel talent is making friends as she brags: “If there isn’t anyone else around to talk to, I could probably make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of Sheetrock.” The interesting characters that she encounters are the highlights of her travelogue. She describes them more as an observer in the room at a large party would than a friend who spent many weeks in their company. It may again be the problem of having the book in mind before the actual experience takes place.
Her narrative bogs down often with many references to her failed marriage and struggles with depression. I know that it’s important for us to understand her state of mind as she embarks on this search for peace and meaning, but sometimes she comes across as too defensive and self-absorbed. I am actually looking forward to Julia’s interpretation in the movie and expect I will like the story edited for the big screen.