Eat, Pray, Love is the best book you'll ever feel embarrassed buying, or embarrassed liking, or vaguely annoyed you were once manipulated into identifying with, which is how I felt after talking to my friend Stephanie about it. Why's it the number one bestselling nonfiction title in the country right now? Because most women are not the hardened cynics we are, and even those who are, get dumped. When we read it last year (in hardcover!) we loved it. The story is this: Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for giving America the GQ story that eventually became the classic film "Coyote Ugly", has just been dumped... by a sexy younger man who plays the lead in an off-Broadway adaptation of another of her books. With whom she had cheated on her husband? Who was good and kind and actually should have maybe been the one who got to write the bestselling breakup book? Suffice it to say, life isn't fair, which causes Liz enough internal turmoil that she gets an agent to sell a publisher on the idea that maybe she needs a little R&R of self-discovery through Italy, India and Indonesia, where she eats, meditates, and finds someone new to fuck, in that order. How could such a ingenious plan not hold up as a universal guide to happiness? Read the Gchat book club discussion! Stephanie hated it.
me: My theory is that you disliked 'Eat Pray Love' because you were married, happy, fulfilled and in the logical context of a book club when you read it while I was a sobbing, existential crisis-ridden, heartbroken, disconnected mess reading it in the context of the Chinatown bus, which might as well be hell.
Stephanie: um, except that it become really obvious in the first 100 pages that she cheated on her husband. and hello. the whole reason she could take months to go to 3 countries and meditate was that she got a book deal. and the whole not having sex thing in the last part? yeah, self centered. And we all know she made her money from that movie with the girls dancing on the bar
me: OK, agreed on all counts. In fact, now that I think about it, I feel like it's almost sinister that she drew me, the dumpee, into her journey of self-discovery when hello SHE CHEATED.
Stephanie: yeah, if he cheated, i would have been right there eating the pizza with her. Instead, secretly i was happy she was getting fat. I hope her ex took her for everything. Or at least, the house
me: She made it seem like her did.That was actually the most off-putting part. That she harped, a little too much, on her ex's inability to forgive her. Without saying exactly what she had done.
Stephanie: yeah, and then she climbs a tower and "lets him go"... um, that's what his lawyer is for
me: And considering the compulsive-confessional gene that runs through people like that... not that I would know... You know she wrote a lot about whatever infidelity occurred. She probably wrote tomes. And then her publisher said: "Actually, we want to get this excerpted in 'O', so....can you kinda make yourself a little more sympathetic?
Stephanie: What about when she decided to stop taking the anti-depressants? No one that's been dumped goes OFF the antidepressants. yeah, i'm in a foreign country. i know no one. let's let the seratonin go...
me: She also writes almost too precisely about certain huge gushes of emotion for them to have been anything other than, you know, fairly isolated occurrences. Which is why it's so annoying that her book made me cry so much!
Stephanie: so many people loved it. I kept thinking, this woman, THIS woman is speaking for everyone who's ever broken up?
me: Right, I kept thinking, here's this book deal lady, sellout writer of the movie that introduced the world to Piper Perabo, who cheated on her husband with the lead in the play version of another of her astoundly successful books, hanging out in Italy... and she's making me cry. As if I needed another reason. As if I really needed a good fucking cry right now! Because it's been a WHOLE THIRTY MINUTES SINCE THE LAST.
Stephanie: oh no! oh no! think of the vibrator scene... that'll dry you up
me: you mean where she masturbates while thinking of Bill Clinton?
Stephanie: Yes. at that point i closed the book and vowed never to read GQ again
me: Yeah, that's a good point. Do people really masturbate thinking of Bill Clinton? Would you get off on Clinton dirtytalk? Because, as badly as I'd like him back in the White House, I would not want to have his cigar up my cooch. I can't really get off on the idea of known lechers trying to get in my pants. With Clinton I would not feel special. I would feel like the proverbial hole and a heartbeat. Although, for masturbation purposes, that should probably be sufficient. Anyway, whatever, it kind of weirded me out that he was her default fantasy. She's actually got a Clintonesque charisma; I met her once. She came to the office. Everyone LOVED her.
Stephanie: of course. she's blond. how could you not love a peppy petite blond woman. i bet she's super thin, right? that would make sense. She can eat pizza and not worry about it
me: She was wearing a weird asymmetrically cut sweater. She's definitely in good shape but I wasn't like, having an envy attack over her body
Stephanie: oh, that makes me like her a smidge more
me: Her LIFE, on the other hand..Also: she married Felipe or whatever his name was from Indonesia by way of Brazil
Stephanie: of course it all worked out for her. where is her husband now?
me: It's almost too perfect.
Stephanie: i bet her new husband cheats on her. it's like the j. timberlake song. and i'll bet they totally have kids. Because that's the reason she gave for breaking up with her 1st husband. She didn't want kids.
me: So you hated her instantly and reading the book was a masochistic exercise? Or did you only hate it after you were done?
Stephanie: i hated it while reading it. i just don't think the dump-er is entitled to the same misery as the dump-ee. I kept thinking, who the hell does she think she is?! YOU did this, now lay in it. and stop bringing up how much money you make
me: I would not want to know what goes through her ex's mind when he looks at the Book Review bestseller lists every Sunday. I don't think it's a good place.
Stephanie: i think her husband should have burned her clothes like that movie with angela basset
Stephanie: or her books, whichever. God, think of HIS therapy bills