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Divorce Ruins Love Story

July 13, 2016
Insert clever comment here.

They couldn’t make a couple commas for the cover?

In most circumstances, nobody would care if a famous author got divorced.  Famous authors aren’t like other celebrities, where every move is videoed and critiqued.  Nobody knows what most authors look like anyway.  So if a famous author gets divorced, who cares?

But what if the famous author became famous because of the love story she wrote about the guy she just divorced?

Huh?

About 10 years ago author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the huge best seller Eat, Pray, Love, and millions of women read it (and forced their boyfriends/husbands to see the movie).  The book has inspired a lot of women to travel, eat while they’re traveling, meditate while they’re traveling, and have lots of… uh… I’m not sure if the book really inspired women to do all of that, but a lot of women really loved this book.

I hope it doesn’t sound sexist to say that women read this book.  Just because I haven’t read it doesn’t mean that other men haven’t read it, but I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of people who have read Eat, Pray, Love are women.  The point is, men know what Eat, Pray, Love is about, even if we haven’t read it.  It’s that huge of a book.  If I’m sexist for expressing this thought, this sexism demonstrates how prolific and influential Eat, Pray, Love was.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, Elizabeth Gilbert announced that she and her husband are getting divorced, and she wants privacy, and she’s staying off social media for a while.  Reaction to this has been almost nonexistent.  Social media didn’t blow up.  I accidentally came across this story while I was reading about something else.  I almost missed this story entirely.

Maybe it’s good that there’s little media attention.  There’s nothing wrong with Gilbert treating this privately.  It’s better than treating her novels like Taylor Swift treats her songs.  If I were single, I probably wouldn’t want to date an author because I’d know that all my flaws would show up in her writing eventually.  A guy who marries a writer like Gilbert knows that millions of readers are going to know him too.

I’ve defended Elizabeth Gilbert in the past, even though she probably doesn’t know it.  A few years ago, she got into a literary disagreement with author Phillip Roth over whether writing  was like “torture” or “f#cking great.”   Most people would automatically choose to side with Phillip Roth just because he’s Phillip Roth, but I agreed with Elizabeth Gilbert, even though I didn’t think she had a lot of credibility on the issue.

It’s easy to say writing is “f#cking great” when you’ve gotten rich by writing.  I have more credibility saying that writing is “f#cking great” because I make almost no money with my writing, and I do it anyway.

I’m not going to ever read Eat, Pray, Love.  It’s just not my kind of book.  I’m more likely to mock it or roll my eyes at the book than read it.  But Elizabeth Gilbert wrote it herself (unlike some famous authors), and she managed to get a fan base, and I respect that a lot.  And at the very least, a divorce means a possible sequel.

A couple online comments from this article complained that Gilbert’s divorce ruins the whole love story.  I don’t know.  12 years of marriage is a significant love story.  At least it wasn’t a one-night stand.

If Elizabeth Gilbert ever writes a sequel based on her divorce, some people will complain that she’s monetizing her divorce.  Of course she would be!  That’s the whole point of writing, to monetize our personal problems.  Maybe that’s not the entire point, but it’s part of the point.  The only problem is that Gilbert claims the divorce is amicable.  That would make a crappy book.  Nobody would want to read that kind of book.  If she wants to maintain her privacy, she’ll keep the divorce friendly.  That way, nobody will be interested.

*****

What do you think?  Does a divorce ruin a love story?  Should people who bought Eat, Pray, Love demand their money back?

10 Comments
  1. Should I get my money back for “Dandelion Wine” because Ray Bradbury left Illinois and moved to California?

    • Ha ha! I’d love to see customers try to get money back from the book vendor in either of those situations (Eat, Pray, Love or Dandelion Wine).

      It wouldn’t work, but the conversations would be entertaining.

  2. That literary rendition of author Gilbert posits feminist viewpoint that females must assert themselves in a subtle yet gentle and dignified way….

  3. I just listened to an excerpt of Elizabeth Gilbert participating on NPR’s “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” news quiz from 2014. I have a copy of her book, but I haven’t read it. I haven’t seen the movie, either. Maybe one day, I will. But, I remember when I bought the book, I was in what turned out to be an abusive relationship, and, at that time, I didn’t feel like reading romance novels or stories of finding love. Now that I’m happily married to my wonderful husband, maybe I’ll give her book a go.

  4. I think divorce just proves that the love affair was not real. Real love works through problems and doesn’t give up. And I don’t believe in a “nice” divorce. In marriage two people become one unit, and divorce rips that apart. I read her book and it seemed very self-indulgent to me. I think it’s better to find the love of your life when you are living your real life, not a travel adventure. Then your spouse will be exposed to your real strengths and weaknesses.

  5. 12 years is a respectable love story. Happily ever after is a fairy tale. But what’s with the swipe at Taylor Swift? Male artists write songs and books and sonnets about their lovers and that’s all she’s doing. Being a young white girl doesn’t make her any less of an artist. Her lyrics are fantastic. To the guys who don’t like being written about – if you hadn’t acted like an asshole she wouldn’t have had anything to write about. Try being nice to your next girlfriend.

  6. Isn’t it odd that most divorced parents encourage their children to go find love and marry even though their marriage ended in a divorce? I have not read eat pray love but it’s a story. We all have stories some are just more successful than others. Good read.

  7. Divorce doesn’t lessen a great love story. Forever can be miserable, but 10 years can be amazing. Divorce is the end of something, and maybe her husband did what he could to make her better person. I say let her live her life

  8. Gilbert’s book came out just as I was ending a 28 year marriage. I received six copies from friends. I hated the book, and maybe that wasn’t fair. But I was leaving somewhat destitute. Nobody paid for me to travel around the world and heal and find my spiritual center. If I had to title my experience it would be Plant, Harvest, Eat, since my garden kept food on my table. But, in my view, gardening is a lot more healing than scrambling about the world searching. With gardening, you are already found; you know where you are, you’re in the garden. I’ve forgiven Gilbert–I actually like her whenever I hear her speak. And I got over the notion that a man was going to complete my life. And now, a decade later Gilbert is divorcing and I’m in a much healthier relationship, precisely because I didn’t need one to be whole.

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