Eat, Pray, Love The Irony
May 17, 2011 § 6 Comments
My goodness, memoir readers and writers, if James Frey’s mutterings to Oprah weren’t enough to make you lie down with a wet washcloth over your eyes, the NY Times review of Luca Spaghetti’s Un Amico Italiano: Eat, Pray, Love in Rome certainly will. The idea is ridiculously brilliant and utterly mind-boggling: a book-length memoir about being featured in a famous memoir.
The NY Times review, however, is sharp, smart, and, at times, hilarious. An excerpt here, followed by a link to the full review:
Gilbert has managed, somehow, to push the genre’s built-in self-involvement to a whole new level. The truly special thing about “Eat, Pray, Love” is not its humor or its wisdom or its perky invocation of exotic local color — all of which are real, and often enjoyable. It’s that it is a completely inescapable vortex of recursion: a self-generating, self-sustaining, self-replicating machine of perpetual self-reference. It feels practically avant-garde in its determination to pull itself out of its own belly button. Its cover should have been an M. C. Escher painting of Jorge Luis Borges riding on a snake eating its own tail.
For me, the most profound moment in “Eat, Pray, Love” comes early on, when Gilbert reveals that her year of healing and self-discovery was, in an important sense, manufactured. “I can actually afford to do all this,” she writes, “because of a staggering personal miracle: in advance, my publisher has purchased the book I shall write about my travels.” (The word “miracle” is particularly sneaky here: vaguely spiritual jazz hands waving away complex issues of class and authenticity.) Gilbert paid for the year described in “Eat, Pray, Love,” in other words, with the book advance she got for proposing to have the year described in “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Sam Anderson’s full BOOK REVIEW