Xeitgeist ~ the spirit of the event
by Melinda Darlington-Bach

The Elizabeth Effect ~ Elizabeth Gilbert - Writer - "Eat Pray Love"

Elizabeth GilbertThere is one thing we mere mortals all aspire to and all pretty much have in common.... To be the recipient of the coveted "Oprah Effect." The engaging Ms. Gilbert hit the O jackpot with her revealing and breezy memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. Resonating deeply with millions of readers , her mega work shot to the top of the best seller lists where it remained for many weeks. Ms. Gilbert also snagged the golden ring when her  book was optioned for a major feature film, starring Julia Roberts as the winsome Gilbert.. Don't we see a lot of Julia on Oprah as well?

Last Thursday night at the Marin Veteran's Auditorium, the largely female adoring audience was treated to the gift of hearing Ms. Gilbert. Before launching into her humorous, beautifully constructed slice of life tales, she encouraged all seated in the back seats (the less expensive ones) to move up to the front seats. The mass exodus was hilarious, as the invited throng all moved, down "en masse" squealing with delight at their unexpected fortune.

Charming and  somewhat self-deprecating, Ms. Gilbert spun tales of how her authentic life in the universe does not in any way truly reflect the public perception created by her book. "Eat, Pray Love". The best-selling book is a cleverly constructed trio of stories about her international adventures, fueled by a broken heart that became  a deeply transformative experience.

Ms. Gilbert's brand new offering, "Committed, A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage," is an honest, somewhat meditative memoir about her struggle with the state of matrimony, Taking 18 months  to conceive and rewrite, according to Ms Gilbert, it was a very difficult birth. She claimed it was a completely different book then the one she initially gave to her publisher.

The new work somewhat continues the saga of the two long suffering, taxed lovers moving their intimate relationship forward, albeit both totally repulsed by the idea of marriage. Having made the conscious choice to remain unfettered and happy in their non-traditional coupling, the new memoir reveals how things do not always go swimmingly. Reading aloud  from her book, we were the first to hear how both she and Felipe entered into a puzzling, Kafkaesque  journey, culminating into the perplexing state of matrimony, a state they both did not want to visit by any means..

In a lively Q&A session, Ms. Gilbert took questions posed by the enthusiastic easily entertained audience. Remaining witty and supremely charming, she addressed how "creativity is a relationship" when asked if she ever suffers writers block and how she struggles daily with this "relationship." Asked if money and success has changed her life, she dissolves into giggles and shouts "Damn, yes, of course!" I just bought a very expensive pair of shoes and she gleefully showed them off to all the audience members sitting on both sides of the podium.

Ms Gilbert speaks as she writes. She is thoroughly engaging and filled with great depth of understanding of the ever-evolving human spirit.
By the end of the night, we all felt the "effect" and now understand the reason for her great  success.

Award-winning author, Annie Lamott gives her insight on Miss Gilbert, "God, does she pay attention to things that really matter." Come to think of it, So does Oprah.....

~ Marin Arts Council Magazine, September 2009