January 6, 2010

SINGLE IS INSUFFICIENT:

The End of Single Women: Blockbuster memoir Eat, Pray, Love was the ultimate story of a woman finding freedom, so why did Elizabeth Gilbert get married? Lizzie Skurnick on the new marriage problem. (Lizzie Skurnick, 1/05/10, Daily Beast)

[Committed] is the final death knell to the single girl—our Mary Tyler Moore, our Annie Hall, our Kelly Taylor (“I choose me!”). A decade of chick lit, self-help, confession, and how-to have crushed Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and One Day at a Time to smithereens, and we are condemned to drift in Gilbert’s oeuvre, where, no matter how many gelatos we eat or ashrams we enjoy, we are always steering our liberated little ship away from one altar and toward another.

When Eat, Pray, Love leaves off, Gilbert has just unearthed her soulful soulmate, Felipe. Followers of such extended-edition romances as Sex and the City know it is customary for a sequel at such time to contrive to nix the gentlemen in question from the plot, lest a narrative propelled by uncertainty and turmoil suddenly grind to a halt, alienating fans. Excising your soulmate from a memoir about your relationship is difficult to pull off, but Gilbert is delivered a plot twist courtesy of the U.S. government, which revokes Filipe’s visa in the name of Homeland Security.

Now, in his absence, a new, unencumbered journey can begin! Because, though dueling statuses had already reduced their time together to 90-day stints in a rented house in Philly, and though the couple cannot tolerate an itinerant life abroad, Gilbert is nonetheless unable to wrap her head around Xeroxing a dossier to put her country’s stamp of approval on the man to whom she’s already pledged, in a private ceremony, her eternal soul.

Why Gilbert is so desperately undone by the notion of the green-card marriage is ostensibly the author’s question to herself, but it increasingly becomes one for the reader. Even a Homeland Security officer, as he takes Felipe away, feels compelled to explain the obvious. “No, seriously—what’s the problem?” asked Officer Tom. “You two have obviously been cohabiting already. You obviously care about each other, you’re not married to anyone else… you could always sign a prenuptial agreement… I mean, if you’re worried about going through all the financial mess of a divorce again. Or if it’s the relationship issues that scare you, maybe some counseling would be a good idea.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2010 6:37 AM
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