Reading & Relationships The 'Eat, Pray, Love' Way With Elizabeth Gilbert

From travelling solo to Goa to moving to jam-packed literature fests to seeing the sights on a cruise up the Ganges with a friend—Elizabeth Gilbert is living life to the fullest. Here, her yet-to-be-published book that she is currently working on comes up in conversation, along with spirituality, feminism, and how she feels that she is too old to wake up on a cold marble floor in an ashram at 4 am (“I’ve done that already!” she quips, grinning and with and a ‘been there, done that’ shrug). Infectious bouts of laughter and those wise quotes flow in equal measure. (“Grief is very similar to love. It’s a side effect of love; you can’t grieve if you can’t love. I’ve heard that it is the tax you pay for love. It’s worth it.”) Scroll down to read some excerpts from an interview with the author.

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My pal @sherylmoller and I are about to embark on a cruise up the Ganges River, and the riverboat we’re on is so impossibly romantic and drenched in old-world-glamour that we’ve decided we are now living in a 1930s mystery novel, and we are lady detectives, and we have to SOLVE CRIME. So here I am looking for clues in the galley outside my stateroom. (I don’t know much about boats, so I’m not sure of the words “galley” or “stateroom” are correct, but anyway: We’ve decided there’s a dashing heiress and a mysterious cat burglar aboard ship, and we must foil the heist!) What larks! What japes! ❤️Onward, LG #larks #japes #ladydetectives #gangesriverboat @avalonwaterways

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Luxeva: How is the new book coming along?

Elizabeth Gilbert: “I spent 17 days just by myself in Goa, working on it. I can’t say much about it because it's much too soon but it's about grief.”

Luxeva: Does it bother you when certain people refer to some books of yours as ‘chick lit’?

Elizabeth Gilbert: I don’t give a sh*t! I am so lucky to have had such a blessed life. You can’t sell millions of copies and then complain that you are being marginalised. And I am not! People care about my work and read it; I have a beautiful audience that is mostly women and I respect them, love them, and care for them. I am just happy to do the work I love, for the people I care about—they can call it what they want. There is a great quote by W.C Fields that goes, ‘It's not what they call you, it's what you answer to’.”

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Luxeva: Absolutely. And they do have an impact on the readers. 

Elizabeth Gilbert: “For a lot of women, that novel [Eat, Pray, Love] is the first memo that said your life belongs to you, and it’s shocking that at this moment in history, we still have to be handed that memo. If my role in the world was nothing more than to hand that memo to even a few other women, then I am very happy that it was my life’s work. Some people say it's a very elitist book, that I am privileged and not everyone can do it and that’s absolutely true. Those questions are important to address and to admit. But after they have been discussed, what I would rather do is direct people’s attention to not who wrote the book but who read it, because it was read by women of every culture, every age and some of them made radical changes in their lives. To me, that's a lot.” 

Luxeva: And would that translate into advice for aspiring writers to keep in mind as well? 

Elizabeth Gilbert: “A piece of advice would be to tell your story to somebody. Every book that I’ve ever written, I’ve written directly to one person who I want in my life, who I want to delight, entertain, educate or move.”

Luxeva: As someone who features female protagonists in her work, what do you feel about the representation of women in terms of their sexuality?

Elizabeth Gilbert: “Stories about women and their sexual adventures are relatively difficult to find in literature, or in music or opera, for that matter. That classic story about a woman who is ruined makes for really good tragedy but, as a reader, I get really depressed because it's one suicide or murder after the other; it's like she has to have one orgasm and then die, it's so unfair!”

Luxeva: And how do you perceive relationships or marriage, having touched upon the subject in your work? 

Elizabeth Gilbert: “It [marriage] exists, so I have to believe it, but I am not a fan of it. The statistics about how bad marriage is for women are so depressing; married women have shorter lives and less money than single women, their health is worse, and they are more likely to suffer from addiction, anxiety, and goes on. Having a healthy relationship requires an incredibly good partner who pushes against it with you, and who won’t allow for what’s the natural current, which is that women end up giving everything to men and on every single one of those data points, men do better—in sociology it’s called The Marriage Benefit Imbalance. A woman takes years of her life, health, and well-being and hands it right over to a man who benefits from it. And the thing that makes me go crazy is that this information is out there and yet, every single culture in the world teaches that a woman is not complete unless she is married when it is literally the opposite!”

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Luxeva: Before we come to an end, what's on your reading list currently?

Elizabeth Gilbert: “I am reading something all the time! Currently, it is this book that was written a long time ago called Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. It's kind of a mystery novel set in New York and it's great. The best book that I read last year—one of the best that I’ve read in my entire life—was written by a woman named Lisa Taddeo. It's called Three Women and it's a fascinating piece of journalism and is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The best novel I’ve read recently is a funny one called Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson. It revolves around a woman who is hired to be a babysitter to two children who keep igniting into flame every time they get emotional or upset about anything, so her job is to prevent it from happening; the father is a prominent politician who doesn’t want the world to know. It’s the strangest, funniest, and most incredibly brilliant book!”

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