As the Hangover careened down the frozen food aisle with a full cart, little did he expect to find a cardboard display selling Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. How does a writer this good wind up just past sub-zero waffles, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches?
It’s obvious as to why a supermarket would be an effective spot for selling the biggest and best piece of chick lit written this century. The Hangover bought the book for the missus two Christmases ago. She loved it. And it has to have been read by every women’s book group in the country by now. But to reach the five or six females in every town who may have somehow missed it, the grocery store seems a dream venue.
Gilbert is no Michael Crichton or Nora Roberts, whose trashy paperbacks formerly comprised the top echelon of supermarket literature. Gilbert can write–extremely well. That she has to be placed in the vicinity of TGI Friday’s jalapeno poppers and Jackie Collins’ Fabio-covered drivel is unfortunate. On the other hand. while the rest of the economy is tanking, Gilbert’s personal GNP continues to rise.
Although The Hangover has not read Eat, Pray, Love (yet), I have read and enjoyed her fiction. Stern Men, set in Maine, is a rollicking, funny novel with depth. It’s John Irving-lite, and that is meant with no disrespect. Pilgrims,Gilbert’s short story collection from 1997, is brilliant. Gilbert’s a sharp, incisive writer and her stories are tough, humorous, and engaging.
While eschewing Oprah-ness, Pilgrims should still appeal to the same women who enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love. Here’s the opening from the story, Landing:
“I lived in San Francisco for three months and only slept with one person, a redneck from Tennessee. I could have done that back home and saved myself a lot of rent money. A city full of educated, successful men and I went after the first guy I saw wearing a John Deere hat.”
Or how about this one from, Come and Fetch These Stupid Kids
“Margie and Peg were arrested after they got drunk on the chef’s cooking wine and went into the parking lot and rubbed butter on the windshield of every car parked there. It was late at night. It was also late in September, and long past the end of tourist season.”
The Hangover can live with the shock of seeing Gilbert placed in the neighborhood of French toast, onion rings, and Danielle Steele. Now if the powers that be could only see fit to add Pilgrims and Stern Men to the kiosk, they’d be doing their customers a real service.