“What do you think of Elizabeth Gilbert?” she asked me. Gilbert, of course, is the author of the mega-bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love.” But she’s also recently published “Committed,” a memoir about marriage, and that’s what my friend was talking about. It hadn’t occurred to me, until just then, that “Committed” really shared space on the same metaphysical bookshelf as “Cars” and that I should read it.
Later that day, I was invited to a book party for Stacy Morrison’s new memoir, “Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce.” My heart pinched when I saw the cover, with the ever-elusive blurb from Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s hard, as an author, not to be jealous of someone with the clout to get a big-time blurb, and Morrison has the advantage of being the editor of Redbook. But I bought the book, read the first chapter this morning, and it’s quite good. Another entry to my bookshelf.
And of course there’s also “Creating a Marriage You’ll Love,” a book of essays about marriage by John Gray (Venus, Mars), myself and many others. Profits from the book go to victims of domestic violence.
Marriage is in the air, and on the bookshelf. And it’s no wonder. Nowhere is there such a disconnect between our expectations and the result.
Perhaps it’s because of the kabuki-like rigidity of the customs of the wedding ceremony. The walk down the aisle, the first dance, the cake, the bouquet, the getaway car. Just look at the cake symbolically. Such precariously towering sweetness, the obligatory stuffing of it into the new spouse’s face. If only we could stay in our black and white outfits forever, stuffing ourselves with cake, with flashbulbs flickering.
But alas. Fiction and memoir don’t work unless there is a trouble. And so the marriage books are all about after the cake.
Which is why it’s an endlessly fascinating topic. Marriage, always, starts with dessert. Well, what happens if you let a toddler eat cake before dinner? I’ll tell you what happens. Peas fly! So too in marriage. And that’s interesting.
But we are drawn to the cake. I posted on my Facebook fan page today two items, one was a poll asking what married couples fight about. The other was a link to a friend doing research into the first song at weddings. Only four people, myself included, have voted in the marital spats poll. But there were already eight people who offered up their wedding songs.
So will people read about the not-so-happily-ever-after?
Serious readers will. The National Books Critics Circle recently asked readers to send in nominations for the best works, fiction or memoir, on conjugal love. Alas, the deadline is April 20, a week before “Cars from a Marriage” comes out.
But perhaps I’ll get lucky. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert will read “Cars,” and leave me a stellar review on Amazon.