Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Talk

My husband is on many people’s mailing lists.  A recent message from about Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage sent him to the author’s website, where he followed a link to a TED talk with Liz on the creative process.

He was hooked despite having rolled his eyes as I (and many other females of all ages) had consumed Eat, Pray, Love as if it were sacred.  He and our other male companion went to the beach in Italy while my friend KC and I spent a day traveling to Naples to eat the revered pizza of the “Eat” section.

I knew Elizabeth Gilbert had written a new book, but I also learned from her website that she was going to be in DC today to talk about that book, which came out on my birthday.  For a mere $24 each, six of us received a copy of the book and a ticket to hear her speak at the 6th & I Synagogue tonight.

We showed up to a capacity crowd, in which 98% were females.  I was happy to be in a delegation that was 50-50.

She read us the opening chapter, in which the Brazilian man from the “Love” section and she were convinced of the need to get married by Tom of Homeland Security.  From what she read, the new book has that same story-telling quality with lots of humor and raw emotion that made her earlier book such a joy to read.

One of the questions was from a young aspiring writer, asking her advice on breaking into a tough field today.  Liz admitted that most of the magazines that used to publish fiction are now out of business.  But she did give the young author some advice that applies equally to anyone writing for public consumption.

She said it’s important to figure out exactly who you are writing for, who your audience is.  I started thinking about that in terms of how it applies to what I write here.  Because I do have a fairly good idea of my regular followers who read (even occasionally), I steer clear of some subjects, try not to say negative things about anyone who might be reading, and attempt to limit my use of 4-letter words. 

But in the world of Blogging, an audience is a moving target.  Only a small fraction of those who read on any day leave any record of their presence.  They are mostly strangers who will remain just that.

It made me wonder what those collective faces from just one day would look like.  Would they be 98% female?  Would they be my generation?  Would they like what they read?  Does it really matter?

For now I'll have to content myself with reading my newly autographed copy of Committed.  I told her we went all the way to Naples to eat pizza at her recommendation and she gave me a thumbs up.


Blogger Gary said...

I read her book when I was in Italy too. I did not eat the pizza in Naples but did hit some of the spots in Rome she talked about including the Spanish Steps.

I thought the book was really good because it seemed to me that she was not all about life being perfect, it was about the ups and downs while maintaining a sense of humor. I am interested to see if this new book holds up. Let me know what you think.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

Oh gee, I think you and I part company when it comes to "Eat, Pray, Love." I hated that book. I wrote about it here: I have to admit I enjoyed her TED talk and perhaps I read the book at exactly the wrong time, when people in my family and friends were going through truly tough times that made her complaints seem petty and her solutions nauseatingly self-indulgent.

I'll wait for your review of the new book!

2:36 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- I found the Italian part of Eat, Pray, Love to be the best. I loved how she described the various places.

Terry -- Eat, Pray, Love is a book that people either love or hate. There's never any ambivalence. Whether you agree with her or not, the author really is a good speaker.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, um, was ambivalent...


12:34 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a great event. Something that makes you think on your birthday - definitely worthwhile. I, too, enjoy her writing, back to her book The Last American Man.

I don't really get comments, so I'm not sure who reads, but I know there are a fair number of men in there. Demographics on our readers sure would be interesting...

10:52 AM  

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