Mention the name Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the runaway best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, and you’ll get a host of opinions. As usually happens when women achieve fame, labels start flying; Gilbert’s been called narcissistic, privileged, out of touch and untalented by everyone from respected newspaper columnists to anonymous internet trolls.
This, frankly, is a bunch of baloney. Watch her 2009 TED talk on “Your Elusive Creative Genius” and witness an articulate, self-aware, funny and sharply philosophical mind at work. Steve Almond, a brilliant fiction writer and essayist in his own right, addresses misconceptions about Gilbert—including but not limited to her proven writing ability, her transformation into a cultural icon, her long, workhorse-style writing career before the freakish success of her Oprah-embraced memoir—in a fascinating New York Times profile, titled, appropriately, “Eat, Pray, Love, Get Rich, Write a Novel Nobody Expects,” on the occasion of the publication of her latest effort, The Signature of All Things.
Not a memoir at all, Gilbert’s newest is what Almond calls a “rip-roaring” adventure novel—way more George Eliot than Augusten Burroughs, and an unexpected move from a writer who could have rested on her intellectual laurels and cannibalized from Eat, Pray, Love for the rest of her days. Elizabeth Gilbert appears in conversation with Kelly Corrigan on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Dominican University. 50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael. 7pm. $35, includes signed book. 415.485.3239.