I finished The Devil, the Lovers, and Me: My Life in Tarot a couple weeks back. I couldn't help comparing it to Eat, Pray, Love, with all the new age-y reflections on life, and how one can go about improving one's future.
Kimberlee Auerbach is more down-to-earth than Elizabeth Gilbert, and thus, easier to identify with. The stories in her book weren't funded by a large publisher advance (though she likely got one), and she's not wealthy in the book (even though she comes from, and probably had more money than I do, it doesn't come across that way). Auerbach doesn't go around the world to find herself, she does it in the New York apartment of a tarot card reader*. Her family is messed up, like most families are, and she's not afraid to talk about it. She's not fabulous, she's an everywoman. And she's deeply funny, and incredibly thoughtful. All this makes Auerbach far more likeable than Gilbert, and makes the book a fast, interesting, and ultimately joyful read.
And yet... Gilbert is the superior writer. Reading The Devil, the Lovers, and Me is like having coffee with a great friend. Eat, Pray, Love transports the reader to exotic locales, where possibilities are open and endless. This, of course, is why Eat, Pray, Love is so successful, both in its writing and in its sales. Gilbert knows how to manipulate the reader, to force you to root for her, to join her on the crazy voyage. Gilbert's character isn't someone I'd easily get behind, in fiction or in life, but it speaks to the excellence of her writing that I did, in each and every page. I fear The Devil... won't have the same success, because it's more mundane.
I have no complaints about Auerbach's writing; I did enjoy the book thoroughly. I think she's got a lot of talent, and further books -- I do hope for more -- should hone that talent into something more magical. That thing that Gilbert has in spades.
Bookslut makes me laugh:
My favorite of [Penguin’s Great Loves] series is The Eaten Heart: Unlikely Tales of Love by Boccaccio. Boccaccio was an influence on Chaucer. That tells you how smart I feel when I drop Boccaccio’s name in casual conversation. It goes a little like this:
Stranger: Hey, lady, you’re parked in two spots! You suck!
Me: I’m reading Boccaccio! He was an influence on Chaucer!
Stranger: Move your damn car.
Callie Miller at Counterbalance has a post on a chair and ottoman, that also hold your books**. I guess it's that kind of week.
**Auerbach admits in her end papers that the tarot reader, and reading, in her book is a composite of tarot readers and readings she's had over the years. No surprise, since it's not likely you'd recount your entire life story over the course of one evening. Makes for an easy transition to screenplay though (oh, I'm such a cynic).