Saturday, September 20, 2008

I and I and I and I and I....Book Bashing

A good friend of mine sent me the book EAT LOVE PRAY by Elizabeth Gilbert several months back. Many friends had recommended it as an excellent read, so I dove in for some inspiration. I loved the first chapter. The only thought that recurred in my brain was: this should be MY book with MY story! And so I read on.

I think the first time it occurred to me that something was upsetting me was the whole ashram thing. A guru who you follow like the Northern Star but you have never met? I know it is pretty hip to be into yoga and have a guru. Her motivation for spending months at a specific ashram, where she never did meet her special guru who guides her life, seemed insincere.

But by the time she got to Indonesia I did not even want to finish the book. I did not like her at all. This is what went through my head: "You selfish, self-serving bitch!" She came off as feeling superior to the Balinese people, and the purchase of the house for her friend seemed to be nothing more than a pat on her back on what a wonderful and generous person she was.

I was actively working on a memoir. After finishing EAT LOVE PRAY I have never touched my notes again. There are too many "I's". Italy, India and Indonesia. No problem. I, I, I, I, I, only and me first, problem. I now think I would rather write my story from a fictional vantage point in order to not appear to be boasting about what a wonderful person I am. I, unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, do not have such self confidence and I do not think I am a wonderful person. I doubt my writing would sound as self involved as hers but she has scared me off my memoir.

Recently I read that the divorce that was so difficult for her was her doing. She cheated on her husband, divorced him, and Disney paid her a fortune to travel around the world to write about her recuperation from her self-imposed depression. My husband of twenty years died after suffering a horrible cancer, and all I got was a note to show up to work the day after his funeral and people avoiding me on the street because I was damaged. I had to sell my house and move away to try to recuperate and survive the hideous ordeal. Resentment? You bet. Am I jealous? Of course! She is making a fortune. But I do not dislike the book because I am jealous, i was hoping to be inspired to write my story too. Instead, I ended up with memoirphobia and the fear of being seen as a braggart. If anyone wants to read her book, I have a copy to give away...if I do not burn it first in hopes of a reincarnation of my own lost soul.


Nancy said...

I was traveling in July and looked at that book in the airport and am now glad I didn't buy it.

Please don't give up on your memoir. If you need some inspiration, read some M.F.K. Fisher.

Jackie said...

I bought that book but have not read it yet. I hope that I am not sorry I did. I read another memoir recently (Her Last Death by Susann Sonnenberg) that was the written in the same manner. I read the entire book after having wanted to stop after a few chapters. But I didn’t give up and read it to the bitter end.
I have enjoyed reading your blog since I first came across it a few weeks ago. You have some wonderful stories to tell.

Pablo Chavez y Linda Dorton said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement. Perhaps I was a bit harsh, but I had to vent. It is hard to break into this industry and her story, though a good read, only provided me with inspiration to be more unique in my attempt to write a memoir.

me said...

I read that book and felt the same as you.

Try "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Dideon. A much better book about loss and life.

Please do not give up on your own novel.