I'm going to come right out and say it, I loved the book Eat, Pray, Love. When I like an author, I will read everything they write with great glee and giddiness and so I devoured Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir as soon as I could.
What was not to like? It had travel and ITALY and more travel and romance and food and self-reflection and some stupid things and some brave things -- you know, like LIFE -- and she wrote about it all unapologetically and beautifully. Maybe it spoke to me because I am (gasp!) a white chick and I happened to be around the same age as EG was when she wrote the book and I too had just left a long-term relationship that many thought I shouldn't leave. When I had my "mid-life crisis" (do you have those at 30?), I spent a bunch of time NOT travelling around the world -- instead I lay around and ate toast, surfed the web, and read books (my bestseller Eat, Surf, Read is due out next year!). I named Eat, Pray, Love as one of my top five books of that year if anyone asked. Which I don't think anyone did, but if they HAD, I would have been ready. (I'm like a boy scout. I like to be prepared.) (I can even light a fire from two sticks.) (Probably.)
But now I guess I'm supposed to be embarrassed about loving it. Because "everyone" says that it's a "stupid story about an entitled white chick". Apparently, it's "too much about Elizabeth Gilbert's feelings about herself".
Er, isn't it a memoir?
mem·oir [mem-wahr, -wawr]
1. a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation.
2. Usually, memoirs.
a. an account of one's personal life and experiences; autobiography.
b. the published record of the proceedings of a group or organization, as of a learned society.
3. a biography or biographical sketch.
So she wrote a memoir that was too... memoir-y?
And then EPL committed the cardinal sin of being POPULAR. And so out of the woodwork crawled millions of people who were just itching to dismiss it. Because a book that is POPULAR must be dismissed by the masses who are all too clever to like what is popular and so they cleverly trash something that they have never actually read because it's a sign of how much cleverer they are than "everyone" else and it makes me CRAZY MONKEY PANTS.
I've read all kinds of insulting things about Eat, Pray, Love, like how EG went to India to look at poor people so she could feel rich and how she was entitled and egocentric and on and on and on in this vein and then CNN dismissed the story as a "midlife lady crisis" and it makes me want to get stabby. I could list all the books by MEN which went on to be lauded best-sellers which were indeed also about mid-life crises because aren't ALL journeys of self-exploration that occur in the middle of one's life actually mid-life crises stories? And aren't a great deal of memoirs written about the middle years of one's life?
I hate the dismissiveness. I hate that a book that I loved is being held up as the Book-To-Hate-Of-The-Month, following in the footsteps of everything Dan Brown ever wrote and Twilight and Stephen King and Bridget Jones, etc. All books with that It Factor that is difficult to pinpoint and even more difficult to attain. All books most of us have read and whether we like them or not, it's usually pretty easy to see why they are so popular.
But a little success seems to equal a little loathing, a LOT of success apparently means that your work will be universally slammed by more people than have ever read it.
It makes me not want to be THAT much of a success.
Except I DO want to be that much of a success. Because it means that even though millions of people will hate me and dismiss me, millions more will actually READ my book and love it. So maybe it all balances out, I just wish the balance would come with a little less vitriol and a little more acceptance.
And if any publishers out there want to buy Eat, Surf, Read, CALL ME. Don't wait! It's sure to get snapped up soon-ish and maybe I can be the next writer that the world will love to hate.