One Journey We Should All Strive For

19501Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I feel it’s not just my responsibility, but my duty to respond to the negative reviews that have cropped up on Goodreads and elsewhere like sand in the desert. Many reviewers have mentioned EAT, PRAY, LOVE as being self-indulgent. I’m sorry but writing is always going to be self-indulgent, as it gives the writer the ability to work out his or her problems, demons, doubts, and fears. Beyond that, it gives the writer, who does it well, the opportunity to reach beyond friends and family and actually develop an audience and a following.

In the case of Ms.Gilbert, she’s not the only one who walked away from a troubled marriage, and she offers a sense of hope to the reader. Sure, it’s all about her, but it was written in the first person, and it is a memoir after all. Success brings with it a number of detractors, the way palmetto bugs have taken over Florida, and that’s fine. I’m sure she’s accepted her fate, along with the big, fat paycheck that goes along with it. But I’ve decided to celebrate her memoir for what it is, and if the reader simply focuses on that aspect, it’s a well-written read, a journey in self-discovery, and it provides the reader hope. And hope is a beautiful thing.

I tip my hat to Ms. Gilbert and her well-earned success. This fact alone tells me that her story was the right piece written at the right time, that tells me it was lucky, but there was also a connection established between writer and reader, as her individualistic journey is a story many can relate to, especially since our country has built itself around individualism. Though she didn’t necessarily set out to write this book, and was merely looking for a way to find herself again, she has accomplished both, and I might add rather admirably. I can’t think of too many people who would turn down the opportunity she was presented with. Most important of all, though, is that she came out a better, stronger, more rounded person on the other side, and I believe that’s one journey we should all strive for.

GPS In Your Hip Pocket

19015309 My Heart Is An Idiot: Essays by Davy Rothbart
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

If you want a handful of life lessons (sixteen in fact) on how to fuck up more than a few relationships with a road map and GPS satellite in your hip pocket to comfort you on your dark days, then MY HEART IS AN IDIOT could provide you better comfort than a blanket, a glass of warm milk, and your favorite movie on the tube. Whether you’re a cynic by nature or even if you’re holding out for the storybook fairytale or maybe a hero that goes by another name, you could find yourself mixing equal parts amusement and sadness and then flipping the switch to high. What comes out on the other side could leave you more than a little horrified, like the latest train wreck plastered across the news, but you can also comfort yourself in knowing that you weren’t on this particular train when it exited the station.

“Bigger and Deafer” – When it comes to making fun of people with disabilities, the appropriate response is no. Always no. But then I like to think I have more than two cents to rub together.

“Human Snowball” – If you want to read about a bus ride and a botched encounter with Lauren Hill (not the Lauryn Hill), then you’ll probably want to give this story a go. On a side note, Vernon adds a bit of comedic relief.

“What Are You Wearing?” – If you want a checklist in how not to conduct phone sex, and when to probably pass on picking up the motel phone, you’ll find your answers here. If you’re still confused when you reach the end, you might want to start from the beginning all over again.

“The 8th of November” – How Jim Thompson, arguably the best Ford mechanic in the Beltway, developed a friendship with the author with the idiot heart.

“Ninety-Nine Bottles of Pee on the Wall” – Meeting an author can be a pleasurable experience (most of the time) unless you’re Davy Rothbart and you carry around a few bottles of pee in your backpack. Which leads to a whole new set of problems and more than a few therapy sessions.

“How I Got These Boots” – A pair of boots, the Grand Canyon, and more than a few memories. What more could you ask for?

“Shade” – Sometimes you need to do a bit of searching to find a shady spot in New Mexico, and the author certainly had more than a bit of trouble with this as well. If it wasn’t for bad luck, a missed opportunity with Maggie, and a fruitless search for the mysterious Shade—the person, not the spot allotted tree cover—this one might have had a positive outcome. Sadly, though, he’s striking out more often than a power hitter with a swing flaw.

“Nibble, Lick, Suck, and Feast” – If you want to discover a bit of hilarity on an author tour, this story’s for you. If not, then we’ll move right along.

“Canada or Bust” – Missy, another female name that begins with M, and thus we have yet another missed opportunity in the love quest. If you need to improve the dating pool, there’s always San Francisco.

“Naked in New York” – How does one end up naked on a park bench? Apparently it’s not all that hard to do, and certainly not in “The Big Apple.” Read this tale for a few pointers.

“Tarantula” – Don’t have sex anywhere near a tarantula. Even if it’s in a glass cage and it’s far away from the bed. I don’t care how good she looks (the woman, not the tarantula), or whether or not she kidnaps you and tosses you in the back of the trunk, and promises to rock your world for the next sixteen days. Just…don’t. You’ll thank me later.

“Southwest” – Davy Rothbart may be blessed when it comes to sitting next to beautiful women on airplanes, but he probably needs a bit of help with his delivery and follow through. But that seems to repeat a bit too regularly over the course of these essays.

“New York, New York” – Maggie Smith knows how to strike a pose; the Twin Towers ended up in a pile of rubble; a few interviews got off to a glitch filled start; the bus ride proved longer than planned; and never say no to a woman named Laquisha.

“Tessa” – Drexel University and beer pong sound reasonably appealing, until Tessa proves a little free with her favors with another man, and you’re left shedding a few tears in your beer. There’s no crying in baseball, but I guess there is in beer pong.

“The Strongest Man in the World” – Peter, Byron, Evelyn, and Davy sitting in a tree, recounting a few stories, or maybe it’s three. Tell a few tales, but don’t pass the buck. If you’re not too careful, you might be out of luck.

“Ain’t That America?” – The moral of this story: You can strike out in love on more than one continent. Just keep that in mind the next time you’re moaning and groaning in your cup of tea.

So, in summary, there’s much to enjoy here. If you’re the kind of Joe who likes to watch a train derailment or two, or you’re one of those rubberneckers on the interstate trying to see the extent of the damage, you’ve just discovered your new source of enjoyment for the day. Just be thankful it’s not your life, and hope to hell you have a bit more luck in the relationship arena, otherwise you might want a Prozac or a Xanax.