Saturday, October 2, 2010

One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.

The title: 
Eat Pray Love

Who penned this work?:
Elizabeth Gilbert

How did this piece find it's way to your nightstand?:
Well, I first started reading it when I picked it up at Powell's for my boyfriend.  Then I got addicted to it (and half way through it) exactly at the time when I had to send it to him.  Luckily, my sister also received it as a gift for her birthday, so I may or may not have sneakily swiped it from her room for a week.  Pretty sure she had no idea, although now she knows. And now she'll say she knew the whole time. 

Number of pages:

Time passed from start to finish?:
About two weeks
Describe the cover:
'eat' written in pasta, 'pray' written in prayer beads, and 'love' written in flowers.  Not much else going on.

In what section of the bookstore would a reader find this?:
Based on my experience, Travel Writing.  Also sometimes in biography.
Summary of the basic plot:
(from the back): In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want - husband, country home, successful career - but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion.  This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outwards marks of success, and of what she found in their place.  Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Background information on the story/author:
Um, pretty sure the summary covered some of that.  The author is an award-winning writer, and in 2008 was named by Times magazine one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.  Basically, everyone loves her book and wants to be her friend.  And I don't blame them.
What did you think of it? (your general response, what you liked or didn't like, what you learned, anything else you want to share about it):
I understand why this book has been so popular, I really do.  The author is honest and open with us and herself, sometimes brutally so.  There's nothing preachy or didactic about this truly is HER story and that's the reason she wrote it. I think the appeal is that she speaks to undeniable truths we all struggle with and want to understand.  She also speaks to the imperfect person we all feel like we are.  I love the way the book was laid out (with purpose and meaning), as well as the way she realized retrospectively some of the significant meaning behind numbers and letters involved in her journey.  I definitely want to read it again.  And of course, I'm now trying to figure out what My Word is.  (you'll see)
Which page was your favorite? Share why:
Page 274.  This is where we realize (or rather, the author realizes) the largest lesson of them all (a very cyclical one at that)...and someone else has to point it out to her.  By setting out to help yourself, you end up helping Tutti.  (you'll see)
If the story was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
Kinda beat me to the punch there, didn't ya, movie industry?  I haven't seen the movie so I can't really speak to how well they cast the characters.  I can easily see Julia Roberts being a good fit, however. 
Share a quote that was worth reading twice. Explain why:
"Sofie is Swedish and in her late twenties and so damn cute you could put her on a hook and use her as bait to catch men of all different nationalities and ages."  (made me laugh)

"How many people have I heard claim their children as the greatest accomplishment and comfort of their lives?  It's the thing they can always lean on during a metaphysical crisis, or a moment of doubt about their relevancy -- If I have done nothing else in this life, then at least I have raised my children well."  (reminded me of many significant people in my life)

"There's a cat who lives here who is enormously affectionate to me for the half hour every day before I feed him, then moans crazily the rest of the time like he's having Vietnam War flashbacks.  Oddly, I don't mind this."  (made me laugh)

"Before dawn the roosters for miles around announce how freaking cool it is to be roosters ('We are ROOSTERS!' they holler.  'We are the only ones who get to be ROOSTERS!')"  (made me laugh)

"And then I remember a story my friend Deborah the psychologist told me once.  Back in the 1980's, she was asked by the city of Philadelphia if she could volunteer to offer psychological counseling to a group of Cambodian refugees - boat people - who had recently arrived in the city.  Deborah is an exceptional psychologist, but she was terribly daunted by this task.  These Cambodians had suffered the worst of what humans can inflict on each other - genocide, rape, torture, starvation, the murder of their relatives before their eyes, then long years in refugee camps and dangerous boat trips to the West where people died and corpses were fed to sharks - what could Deborah offer these people in terms of help?  How could she possibly relate to their suffering?
'But don't you know,' Deborah reported to me, 'what all these people wanted to talk about, once they could see a counselor?'
It was all: I met this guy when I was living in the refugee camp, and we fell in love.  I thought he really loved me, but then we were separated on different boats, and he took up with my cousin.  Now he's married to her, but he says he really loves me, and he keeps calling me, and I know I should tell him to go away, but I still love him and I can't stop thinking about him.  And I don't know what to do...
This is what we are like.  Collectively, as a species, this is our emotional landscape.  I met an old lady once, almost one hundred years old, and she told me, 'There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history.  How much do you love me? And Who's in charge?'  Everything else is somehow manageable."  (made me think, plus an interesting return to the start of my learning about people and the world through books)

           Choose your rating:

          - Changed. My. Life.
- I laughed, I cried, I want you to read it
          - A definite page-turner
          - Good to check out but don't spend the cash.
          - Why did I waste my weekend on this?
          - A disgrace to paper everywhere

Flip to page 2, 22, or 202. Share the 7th sentence on the page. 
"My thoughts have become like old neighbors, kind of bothersome but ultimately rather endearing -- Mr. and Mrs. Yakkity-Yak and their three dumb children, Blah, Blah and Blah."

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