Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eat Pray Sleep: Thoughts on the movie and my own memoir

Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, Pretty Woman, Indiana University, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Egan, New York Times, Bestseller, Wild Wild East,  Italy, Viking, John Irving,  Bali,  Susan Jane Gilman, James Sullivan, Eat Pray Love, the absolutely non-epic journey of author Elizabeth Gilbert's, publisher advanced funded journey through the supposed ravages of a divorce from a marriage that didn't seem so bad at all, makes you wonder if the privileged class of writers in New York just maybe expects a little too much out of life. The book was recommended to me over two years ago by a very good friend who had read the beginnings of my memoir, Wild Wild East, in hopes that I would see something in this 'chic-lit' or 'priv-lit' that would help me see my own work a little better. It did. But unfortunately I had to sit through a Julia Roberts at 43 film that depicts Gilbert at 32 that never reaches the literary heights described by Jennifer Egan of The New York Times as, "fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible" As Roberts' films go, there was a whole lot more of that attitude in Pretty Woman. Whatever wit there might have been in the book, it was clearly swept away by the incredibly inept screenwriting team, and thereby the acting to a truly flaccid script. In the film, Julia Roberts plays a scene in India where she has been sworn to silence in the ashram and it speaks more to her predicament than all the lines given to her by the script assistants on set. (Ms. Roberts, too-old-for-the-role performance reminded me of Jodie Foster falling over the hill in the dreadful, 'Anna and the King' (ie: The King and I)

An already successful writer divorces a not-so-bad-but-maybe-not-so-inspiring husband, takes up with a less-than-inspiring actor, then bolts her whole dreadful existence - and it is dreadful (travel writing assignments in Bali with unlimited mini-bar privileges - oooooooooooh!), to go around the world to truly commercial places that only rich white people go to and find herself? Give anyone an advance from Viking to a paid personal odyssey, a 157 week New York Times Bestseller book release and the cash from selling the screen rights to two more reasonably inept screen writers and I think they can find themselves. After this, maybe Gilbert will take a page from John Irving and take her own screenwriting into her own hands next time.

As for my writing and reflection on this tale, coupled with recommendations that I refer to Susan Jane Gilman's 'Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven' and James Sullivan's 'Over the Moat' as examples of the expat cannon of adventures, I know now that my tome needs to be better written, have more genuine insights and end with a discovery that is much more than cursory in the exploits of white people who leave the US to find themselves in other places. Good luck to me. I'm working on that, because as my publishing coach, Robin has said, "There is hope";


  1. Love it, David. Can't wait to see the revisions!

  2. Lisa Maria;

    I'm absolutely sure your memoir is more interesting than this bit of fluff. Make sure you check with Robin below and get a real perspective on how to make it happen. And yes, I am serious 2!


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