So of course we all know Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of the bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love. Back when the book came out a decade ago, we’d had it up to just about here with her flaky meandering around Italy and India after a divorce, all that eating and hunting for spirituality and the power of prayer, and of course, the classic BS about discovering true inner peace.
But turns out she’s had one hell of a rollercoaster life, a life in which she has shown grit and great spirit. Here are some quirky facts about her that we learned from a fun new piece by NY Mag.
1. That she spent some time working in New York as a long-form journalist and before that, as a table dancer and bartender in a bar called Coyote Ugly Saloon, where she gave whiny men who’d fallen in love with their bartenders lots of advice she thought they really needed. A hilarious feature she wrote for GQ in 1997 has a great line about the kind of person she was back then: “If you had come into the Coyote Ugly Saloon when I was bartending and asked me for a martini, I would have poured you a shot of Jack Daniel’s, and I would have said, ‘That’s how we make martinis in this place, pal.'”
2. That being rocketed to fame after Eat, Pray, Love didn’t make her go too ballistic or churn out novel after novel. She took four years to write the sequel, Committed, and three years after that, wrote a book called Signature of All Things, about the life of a 19th century botanist and biological explorer Alma Whittaker. Its laboriously researched, with a slow-moving, old-school style that got a Guardian reviewer, (and other critics) who admits to having been snotty about Gilbert in dismissing her as “glorified self-help writer”, revise her opinions.
3. That the success that followed this novel led her into TED-talking and being an inspirational guru on social media – NY Mag calls her the “Taylor Swift figure in a squad of powerful female writer-motivational speakers who call each other Sister”. But that she can be equally raucous and blasphemous, and went on an amazing rant about dancing right in the face of a god that has the gall to give you a Trump.
4. That she was a super enthusiastic reporter at the age of 23, when she worked for Spin magazine before being lifted by GQ, and profiled several eccentric character. Her soulful interview with the singer Tom Waits about his life and career in music had many, many gems, including her discovery that Waits’ favourite retreat was the local dump where he liked to hunt for interesting garbage to turn into musical interviews. All she really wants to do, says is to try “banging on sheet metal or blowing songs into old blue milk-of-magnesia bottles”.
5. That she too, is very capable of being a bit of a faker now and again. The first time she turned up to pitch a novel after a drunken night where her friend trashed her ideas for a novel about cowboys, and insisted that she pitch a story about lobstermen in Maine. She hadn’t been to Maine, she didn’t have the first clue about how to go about writing a novel. She just showed up with some baqwas and went for it.