Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love or: Not Mockingjay

It would make excellent sense in the wake of last week's hoopla over Mockingjay's release, bated-breath-waiting, reading and sigh-of-relief that I would say something about it, but the truth is that the idea of writing a book review for Mockingjay makes me want to groan and writhe, though whether in pain or aggravation, I'm not sure.

Here's my review: I was not disappointed. I'm sure that Suzanne Collins' entire motivation was just that, to make sure that Punk wasn't disappointed, so she can now rest easy that she has succeeded. Honestly, I'm still mulling, letting my brain organize everything I read -- way too quickly -- and then maybe I'll analyze. Probably not, though. I liked it. A lot. The end.

However, in the meantime, I've picked up Eat, Pray, Love. I'm not one to jump on a band-wagon for books or movies, not really (Twilight, per example: the more deafenening the hype, the less I wanted to be associated with it. It's a small rebelliousness, and it may be the only kind I possess), but I recently went through a book-buying phase that will probably go down in some kind of family history. "Remember after we moved from PointA to PointB, and Jess got cut off from the good library and thought she was going to have to live her life without a library and thus, probably die? Remember when she started buying up books out of sheer desperation? Good times!" That's where this book came from: paperbacks for a dollar on the cart at the new library. I snatched it up, paid my dollar, and set it on the shelf with other books I would not have bought otherwise (Life of Pi, Atonement, House of Sand and Fog, McKinley's Sunshine). I mentioned the hoopla of Mockingjay and that I am now in its wake, which is why I went thumbing through my shelves for something to read. Picked this one up. Figured I might as well at least read a few pages.

I've not heard much about the book, but the drive-by-reviews I have heard aren't necessarily positive, and that's fine. I may get to the end of this book and decide that I'm not a fan. Afterall, I'm only 102 pages in (*gasp* says everyone who knows me); a lot can happen in the pages that remain.

I've been reading it in small bites, as though I'm recovering from the binge that was Mockingjay. It's better this way, those small bites, because every few vignettes, I'm struck with a sense of poignancy that requires I taste it, digest it.

Maybe it's because the author is writing from an age that I can relate to, her early thirties. Maybe it's because I've been so miserable this week that I can relate to her panicked quest for happiness.

-- Word of advice, kids: Don't ever underestimate the power of regular sleep. I speak from a lifetime of experience as an insomniac. Trust me. The world is much uglier when you don't sleep.

Perhaps, she, Elizabeth Gilbert, deserves the credit, as she is the writer. She is the one evoking this poignancy. A part of me wants to track her down and carry on annoying dialogue, mostly using paragraphs of her book as her side of the dialogue:

"Liz, about the third vignette: I am one of those "strictly speaking" Christians, and I too believe in a magnificent God. I don't know how one can bother with a God that isn't magnificent. But isn't it marvelous, that magnificence, His magnificence?"

"Liz, your last line for vignette twelve... I don't get it. The poem -- wow -- yeah, that I get, like the sharp finger of a tree root through my chest, but your response. Shaking with relief? Why?"

"Liz, why does your still, small voice have to be your own? Mostly, I'm referring to vignette eighteen, the parts you wrote about there. It's been my experience that when a voice much calmer and wiser than I am is answering when I'm crying out, that is truly God, as in bigger and better than me. Separate from me. Not me. Why isn't that everyone's understanding? How could that still, small voice possibly be me? I don't understand."

"I relate -- too well -- with that sense of guilt in being quiet, being still and happy. That 'pleasure' you talk about, Liz. In my mind, it's 'lazy,' and I'm very good at it, and it is not a virtue. I can breathe deeply and feel the goodness of this life, but only for a minute, because then the guilt takes over, for doing nothing but sitting here, breathing and thinking how good I've got it. The difference being that I don't necessarily think I'm wrong. It's about balance, isn't it? Life is so much about learning balance."

"Thank you, Liz, for the Italian lessons. I've often wondered if there were people in the world who love language as much as I do, who relish the sound and feel of words -- all of them -- like I do. Dante's Italian; Shakespeare's English. Just reading the Italian makes me feel as though I should lick my fingers and make yummy-noises. So, thank you."

I have a lot more of the book to go, and Lord knows it could get down-right weird from the yummy-Italian portion of the story, but I'm not looking to Elizabeth Gilbert to tell me how to live my life or perceive my God -- or myself -- or even how to find my own balance. I'm reading her story, how she's learning to live her life, perceive God and find balance. And I'm remembering that I'm a woman in her early thirties in a world which doesn't understand God as she does and doesn't understand balance as she does, remembering that while my story doesn't span continents and is still very much in its first drafting, it's a good story. It's mine.

1 comment:

  1. My Mother-in-Law (foiled yet again by Blogger) commented this:

    Well done, Jess! I too had some of the same questions while reading her book. It will be interesting to see what you think once you finish it. I came away with a feeling of sadness. "Another seeker, misses Him".