Consumer Warning: Elizabeth (‘Eat, Pray, Love’) Gilbert’s New Book
Published: Jan 03, 2010
Elizabeth Gilbert memoirs begin in crisis. In Eat, Pray, Love, she’s on her bathroom floor at three in the morning, desperate to end her marriage. In the just-published sequel, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, Felipe — the Brazilian she loves too much to marry — is detained by Homeland Security as he tries to enter the United States and, six hours of interrogation later, is jailed and deported. (In fact, not really “deported”, because he had a valid visa, a business in America and no criminal past; Homeland Security just decided he was coming to America too often.)
How can Felipe re-enter the United States? Well, if he and Liz were married… Now, if you or I were writing Committed — hell, if almost anyone were writing it — it would be a closely reported narrative exposing the policies of our government in a time when terrorists seem to enter our country freely and grandmothers are strip-searched. It might include a meditation on love separated and love expatriated. And, I suppose, it would explain how two people who were marriage-phobic came to love the knot.
Committed, I am astonished to say, is not that book. Not even close. There are a few memorable vignettes, but it’s mostly a skim-the-surface tour of marriage through the ages. It lacks wisdom. It’s dull. There’s nothing to connect the reader to Gilbert. But Viking is unleashing a Palinesque million-copy first printing, and American women are about to be buried under the hype.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
[For those in the Cult of Liz, who surely believe I’m a jealous hack trying to damage a writer with a golden reputation, you might consider the first review I encountered. It describes Committed as "a strained book that’s part travelogue and part journal entries, but which mainly reads like a Western Civ term paper that was written at the last minute.” And the New York Times review? Dreadful: "She makes writing a book sound like busywork… the strain is as palpable as the voice is cute, and the drama is virtually nonexistent."]