1. Which two books are you comparing?
The first is “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and the second is “Drink, Play, F@#k” by Andrew Gottlieb.
2. How are these books the same, how are they different?
Both are based on the idea of taking a year off of ones life, traveling to three different places to “find oneself” and reporting all of the adventures on the way. Both books are written by a person who had a personal crisis in their life and had to get away to find answers.
Gilbert’s book is a memoir. After finding herself in a unhappy marriage, Gilbert leaves her husband and her job to find herself on a spiritual journey through Italy, India and Bali.
Gottlieb’s book is fiction (and a parody of Gilbert’s title). Written from the jilted husband’s point of view, “Robert Sullivan” (an alias, of course) leaves his job because his wife had already left him. He goes to Ireland, Las Vegas and Thailand to just get away from his former life.
3. Are there similarities in the main characters?
Yes and no. Both of the main characters are reacting to a traumatic event in their life, hence running off to exotic (and not so exotic) locales.
This is where the similarities stop. Liz Gilbert runs off to do decidedly female things such as learning how to speak Italian, joining an Ashram to meditate and finding true love in Bali. “Bobby” goes to Ireland to learn how to drink like a fish, gambles his brains out in Vegas and intends to fornicate in Thailand.
I would compare reading these two books to watching the movies “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Animal House”.
4. Did reading these books make you want to visit the places featured?
I would love to visit Italy and Gilbert’s descriptions of the people and food were very inviting. Ireland has been high on my list for years, but I don’t plan to be inebriated throughout my stay like “Bobby” was. Gilbert didn’t describe enough of India to make me want to visit (in fact, her chapters on her meditation segment were downright painful), the same goes for Vegas.
Thailand and Bali sounded very much alike as far as the scenery was concerned but “Bobby’s” description of Thailand was enough to make me NOT want to visit. The whole place sounded like a prostitution cesspool. No wonder criminals charged with sex crimes hide out there.
5. Memoirs are often written to evoke a bond with the writer. Did you feel sympathetic toward the main characters?
While reading “Eat, Pray, Love” I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what sort of a person Gilbert actually is. She is a talented, funny writer and probably a good person. Obviously, this was HER side of the story.
At the same time, she seems to be a completely self absorbed, slightly neurotic and selfish individual. She decided one very significant day that she did not want to have children, have a high powered career or stay married to her seemingly decent husband. I do understand that people can go through mid-life crises, but I think that this was more than that. Quite frankly, when her husband refused to grant her a divorce, I was cheering for him.
Gottlieb portrayed “Bobby” as the slightly clueless, hen-pecked husband, who was astounded after his wife of eight years ditched him. He was more of a caricature than a character – two dimensional and pathetic. Of course, he evolved as he “found” himself, after drinking, gambling and fornicating.
6. Do you think these books support the institution of marriage? Why or why not?
Both of these characters begged the question: are all marriages vulnerable to failure? I would say, yes, particularly if 1/2 of the couple isn’t completely on board and having some sort of personal crisis.
However, both Liz Gilbert and the fictitious “Bobby” did get re-married to some other, better suited individual. So, maybe we’re supposed to believe that marriage is a good thing, as long as you’re married to the right person and you want to stay. If not, pick three destinations, make sure you have a lot of savings and hit the road for a year.
7. Did you have a favorite part in these book?
I loved it when Gilbert was in Italy listening to an older man swearing in Italian at a soccer match. She loved the language so much that she even thought his screaming and yelling was gorgeous. Her description of his rant was terrific. I also liked “Bobby’s” travel descriptions of Ireland, where they named an entire district after a bar. I thought that was funny too.
8. Would you recommend these books to other readers?
Yes, as long as the reader isn’t offended by swearing. Also, he or she must be aware that Drink, Play, F@#k is a work of fiction. I had to figure that out for myself, since I downloaded it from my library’s website and I didn’t pay attention to its genre.