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Life with Lavendar in London town

Friday, 24 September 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

Many years ago I came across a book called The Last American Man.



This real life tale chronicled the story of Eustace Conway; a one-of-a-kind modern pioneer who had spent twenty years in the American wilderness, living entirely off the land. I found myself riveted by the opening paragraph which reads:

By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree. By the time he was ten, he could hit a running squirrel at fifty feet with a bow and arrow. When he turned twelve, he went out into the woods, alone and empty-handed, built himself a shelter, and survived off the land for a week. When he turned seventeen, he moved out of his family's home altogether and headed into the mountains, where he lived in a teepee of his own design, made fire by rubbing two sticks together, bathed in icy streams and dressd in the skins of animals he hand hunted and eaten.

As I read on, I found the book did not dissolve into a Davy Crockett style caricature but instead painted a complex and fascinating portrait of a man who battled to live a completely self sufficient lifestyle on Turtle Island in North Carolina and the challenges he faced as a result.

After inhaling the text in one sitting, I made a mental note to keep an eye out for future books by the author. A journalist and novelist called Elizabeth Gilbert.

Several years later,  Eat, Pray, Love was published. I grabbed a library copy, eager to find out what new journey she was going to take me on.The journey it turns out, was her own.

Eat, Pray, Love has now become almost a doctrine of sorts for women who "have it all" but find that this does not bring the happiness they expected. I think most people on some level can identify with the beginning chapter which finds Gilbert on her knees on her bathroom floor, despairing of her life, even though everything seems fine on the surface. If you haven't ever felt even a glimmer of this, I think you're a liar or on some very good drugs.

Sadly once she got off the bathroom floor I found Gilbert's story tedious. I expected the writing to have the same forensic intimacy yet detachment as displayed when she wrote about Conway. Instead when writing about herself, I found Gilbert indulgent and in need of a better editor. Obviously I am in the minority with this opinion as the success of the book has probably set her up for life.

If it hasn't, the the film surely will. I went to see the film today. Yes, I did not like the book but went to the film anyway. Why would I do that? Two words.

Javier Bardem.

The film was gorgeous to look at. Julia Roberts was gorgeous to look at, with her usual doe-eyed dewiness and big, laughing mouth. Gorgeous as it was, the film did go on and on. I thought that the director, Ryan Murphy who gave the world Glee would give us some light relief in the form of a song or two but no.  Just Julia crying. Again.

Gorgeous. Meet Gorgeous.

I almost cried too, with relief when Javier came on screen. None was more gorgeous than he. Sadly his total screen time amounted to what felt like about fifteen minutes. But in that short time , he made a long and plodding film sparkle with life.

For me anyways.

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