#60 ~ Eat, Pray, Love

February 27, 2008 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Books, Disappointment, Memoir, Religion, Worst of the Year | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
eat.jpg

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t typically read books about food. For whatever reason, I get bored reading paragraphs filled with nothing but food preparatory details. Knowing this about myself, I never considered even picking up this book off of the shelf to read the description. The only reason I am reviewing this here is that a co-worker offered to let me borrow this book on CD. In the end, my instincts to stay far away from this book were dead on – just not for the reasons I expected.

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir which describes the impact taking a year away from home to heal from a hard divorce had on Elizabeth Gilbert. During that time, she stayed in three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. The book is separated into three sections for each country. She goes to Italy to learn Italian, to India to study at her guru‘s ashram, and to Indonesia because a wise man she once met there indicated that she would eventually return to stay with him.

During the Italy section, this book was almost poetic in its theme of finding and honoring oneself. However, the poetry of the book was too often interrupted with seemingly unnecessary references to current American politics. Because of how well the rest flowed, those comments, which ranged from off-hand comments to an entire chapter dedicated to thanksgiving that George W. Bush wouldn’t be president much longer, felt like huge potholes in an otherwise smooth road. They did not add to her experiences with struggling between career and marriage, her desire not to have children, and her spiritual longing. They simply dated a memoir that could otherwise be timeless.

Skipping over the political banter was as easy as pushing the forward button, but there was no way to avoid her agonizing discussions of her spiritual struggles as related to Swammy G, her guru’s guru. It didn’t take me long to start begging for a long soliloquy about cooking two cups of rice a single grain at a time. Still, I was committed to finishing the book until *it* happened.

Play by play of *it*

  1. 1. Open chapter with Gilbert’s thoughts on the merits of “cherry pick” from the worlds’ religions to discover appealing spiritual practices.
  2. 2. Literate Housewife rolls her eyes when Gilbert slips a closed minded and oversimplified statement about the Taliban and the Christian Coalition into an otherwise open-minded discussion.
  3. 3. Continued exploration of the idea that all of the worlds’ religions (sans Taliban and Christian Coalition of course) provide elements of Truth.
  4. 4. Literate Housewife looks out the window of her car and wonders what it is about grass that makes cows eat it so ravenously.
  5. 5. Hearing “That’s me in the corner.” jolts Literate Housewife back into Gilbert’s diatribe.
  6. 6. “Oh, no. She isn’t.” says Literate Housewife.
  7. 7. “That’s me in the spotlight.” says Gilbert.
  8. 8. “She musn’t!” panics Literate Housewife.
  9. 9. Choosing my religion.” says Gilbert.
  10. 10. Literate Housewife screams. She turns off the radio thinking that many fundamentalist Christians and Elizabeth Gilbert now have something in common – the misuse of secular lyrics.

_____________________________

Congratulations, Liz Gilbert. You’ve earned your liberal street cred. You just lost me along the way.

********
To buy this book anyway, click here.

#08 ~ The Namesake

February 22, 2007 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Parenting Dilemmas, Reading, Religion | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

It took me a long while to read this book. Like the Life of Pi, it is heady. Many of the other books I’ve read recently have been so as well. Comparitively, the Janet Evanovich novels are fun and soap opera-ish. I much preferred to read those. In fact, I read the second and third installments of the Stephanie Plum novels in the middle of The Namesake. I can’t say if my hesitance to read this book was because of timing or because the book didn’t hold my interest. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to tell.

The Namesake is the story of an American born Indian. Due to a letter from India that was lost in the mail, his parents named him Gogol, after one of the father’s favorite Russian writers. Over time, Gogol grows up and begins to despise his name. He has it legally changed. This change and his attempts to free himself from his parent’s culture are futile. He cannot be happy for long immersed in his American-Indian life or in a more fully American life.

There is a great deal of detail about his parents early marriage and about three of Gogol’s romances. The ending, by comparison, was glossed over and encapsulated in his mother’s final Christmas Eve party for the Indian-Bangladeshi family she created for herself in the United States. It seems as though Gogol’s mother and sister finally come to terms with their lives and how their cultural identity helps to form their journeys. Gogol finds a book of his namesake’s writing in his room. The book was given to him by his father. He rescues it from being donated and begins to read the book. Does he begin his journey toward acceptance of his life and what he cannot control? That is the impression given. I’m mostly glad that I’ve not been invited to take that journey with him.

#05 ~ Life of Pi

February 5, 2007 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Books, Brain Food for Thought, Culture, Inspiration, LIfe, Reading, Religion | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I had been excited about reading this book for quite some time. I was worth the wait. I did find the middle two thirds of this book to be slow and boring. Upon finishing it, I’m could be convinced that this was intentional. How slow and boring would it feel to spend 225 days as a castaway in a lifeboat? It is a brilliant book.

Pi’s family is a secular family. Pi himself, on the other hand, is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian. He has incorporated many of the rituals from each tradition. It’s not so much that he is creating his own faith. He actively participates in all three. It feels perfectly natural for him to find God as He reveals Himself to other people. His views on faith, religion, and God are interesting and thought provoking.

I don’t feel that I can really say much about this book without it spoiling it for other readers. This is the story of Pi, a teenaged Indian boy, who is the son of a zookeeper. In order to make a new life for themselves, the family sells off the animals to North American zoos. They travel together with these animals on a boat that has set sail for Canada. There would begin their new life. Unfortunately, the ship sinks quickly. Only, Pi and three of the zoo animals make it on the lifeboat. The remainder of the story details how Pi survived his ordeal. As the book is told in an interview type of style, we was get glimpses of Pi’s life after reaching shore in Mexico.

After completing this book, I know that I will have to read it again at some point. I want to go back and pick up pieces that I missed or misinterpreted. It is a book that I could learn something from with each read.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.