Elizabeth Gilbert Dissects the "Chick Lit" Label
Her most recent book is the #1 New York Times Bestselling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love," about the year she spent traveling the world alone after a difficult divorce. Anne Lamott called Eat, Pray, Love "wise, jaunty, human, ethereal, heartbreaking." The book has been a worldwide success, now published in over thirty languages with over 7 million copies in print. It was named by The New York Times as one of the 100 most notable books of 2006, and chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of the best ten nonfiction books of the year. In 2008, Elizabeth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, by Time Magazine.
In addition to writing books, Elizabeth has worked steadily as a journalist. Throughout much of the 1990’s she was on staff at SPIN Magazine, where – with humor and pathos – she chronicled diverse individuals and subcultures, covering everything from rodeo's Buckle Bunnies (reprinted in The KGB Bar Reader) to China’s headlong construction of the Three Gorges Dam. In 1999, Elizabeth began working for GQ magazine, where her profiles of extraordinary men – from singers Hank Williams III and Tom Waits (reprinted in The Tom Waits Reader) to quadriplegic athlete Jim Maclaren – earned her three National Magazine Award Nominations, as well as repeated appearances in the “Best American” magazine writing anthologies. She has also written for such publications as The New York Times Magazine, Real Simple, Allure, Travel and Leisure and O, the Oprah Magazine (where her memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" was excerpted in March, 2006.) She has been a contributor to the Public Radio show "This American Life", and -- perhaps most proudly -- has several times shown up at John Hodgman's Little Gray Book Lecture Series, most notably during Lecture Four on the subject "Hints for Public Singing."
Question: Why did you shift to writing from the female perspective?
Gilbert: It’s funny ‘cause I wrote for and about men for like a solid decade. That’s pretty much all I did. I think I had to work through some issues. And also, fearful, always, of my own vulnerabilities. I think I was intrinsically attracted to, like, flinty, macho people. Wanting to be like that because it’s not, at all, how I am. You know, I kind of magnetize toward people like that. And I was interested in them and… You know, I wrote for SPIN for years and I wrote for GQ for years. They’re both really male focused magazines. And, you know, I wrote a book called the “Last American Man”, that was this big study of a woodsman. And then, my novel “Stern Men” was about a girl but it was a girl in a very manly world, on who behaved in a very manly manner, and who was, herself, sort of tough and macho and flinty. And then, after, really, a solid decade of doing nothing but kind of exhaustively examining masculinity from every possible angle to the point that I even did a story for GQ once where I became a man for a week, like inhabiting it in this really intense and direct way, you know, my life fell apart. And I wrote my way through it with “Eat, Pray, Love”. And then, the book came… this became this big phenomenon. And suddenly, I started hearing myself refer to as a chic lit author which was… was really strange after a decade of, like, really putting in the hour to write about men and think about men and… Back in my 20s, people use to say that I wrote like a man, which I took as a compliment. And now, I’m often referred to as a chic lit writer which I… I’m not even completely certain I know what that means except that I’m pretty certain it is never intended as a compliment, you know. And I… I think it’s strange. I think it’s curious, this whole idea of, like, gender based writing. And I also… I have to say, the whole chic lit thing bugs me because, you know, in our culture at this moment in time, it is women who read. And pretty much exclusively, it is women who read. And there is this kind of denigration of women’s reading which is a pity because they’re the ones holding that whole custom up right now. So it’s odd. And my next book, which is a memoir and a kind of meditation on the subject of marriage is definitely sort of… You know, I definitely had female readers in mind when I was writing it so I don’t think that chic lit label is going to go away anytime soon. But I don’t know if… I don’t know if there’s such a thing as gender neutral writing, gender neutral thinking, or… I don’t know. I’m really interested in questions that most of my female friends are really interested in right now. That’s kind of where I’m at, at the moment. I might go back to writing about cowboys at some point in the future but I don’t really think so. I’m not sure what the next thing will be but this is where I am now.
Question: Do women have more spiritual work to do than men?
Gilbert: Yeah. Women have special work to do at this point in time. It’s a really interesting moment in history to have decided to be a woman. It’s… You know, we have… I feel like any women of our generation… And by our generation, I mean, anybody who is born in the last 100 years, basically. I think this era of women have become sort of hamsters in a great unprecedented social experiment, which is what happens if you give women a little bit of power, what happens if you give them autonomy, what happens if you give them control over the reproduction, and what happens if you give them earnings, what happens if you give them options, you know. That social experiment has never been played out before. And, so we’re kind of… I really do feel like we’re all sort of hamsters in this maze, this big sociological test that’s going on and all of us are sort of figuring out how to do it as we go. Because we don’t have centuries and centuries and millennia and millennia of role models for how you do this, you know. We don’t have centuries of epics that are written about how you do this. You know, we don’t have Odysseus. We have, you know, Penelope and the big weaving and unweaving and weaving and unweaving scene that just gets repeated and repeated and repeated, that doesn’t really… you know, it’s not really relevant anymore to most of our lives. And so, we’re all kind of charting our own mythologies as we go. And one of these great things that I heard once about this was Martha Beck, said that she feels like she’s met only 4 kinds of women in her life recently. And its women who… The first kind is women who decided to have a family instead of having a career and who feel conflicted about that choice. And then, there are women who decided to have a career instead of having a family and who feel conflicted about that choice. And then, there are the women who decided to have a family and a career who feel really, really conflicted about that choice. And then, there are the mystics. And that’s the fourth sort of strange category. And she defines the mystics as a woman from any one of those other 3 categories who has somehow been able to kind of drawn out or, like, drum out all of the other distractions and all of the other options and she’s chosen her life, being guided by some sort of deeply honest, interior voice. And she has made all sorts of peace with what she’s doing. And that is who she is and she’s certain of it. And I would argue that any area that demands that people have to essentially become mystics in order to find peace and happiness is a real tough time in which to live. Because in other areas and other societies, you didn’t necessarily have to be a mystic in order to be a content person, you know. A path was laid out for you, that said, this is what a good woman is, you know. And you went and you did those things and you did them well and you could rest at night, you know, with a certain amount of peace, knowing that you were a good woman. We don’t have that consensus anymore, about what constitutes a good woman, what constitutes a woman’s life well-led. I think men, to a certain extent these days, are also struggling with these questions but not nearly to the extent that women are. I mean, I remember being 18 years old in college and sitting up for hours and hours and weeks and weeks on end with my fellow 18 year old and trying to figure out what we were going to do in terms of when we’re going to have kids and who’s going to raise them and how are we going to have careers, and what if we went to graduate school and what if want to do… you know. And I got to say, our 18 year old male peers, I don’t think they were over in the dorm room, like, next door having that conversation, you know. I think they, maybe, joined that conversation after their first kid was born, when they were 36, you know. But I’m not sure they were worrying about that the whole time. So it’s hard, you know. And I’m not the first person to have said that, you know. But I think, maybe, again, going back to why “Eat, Pray, Love” sort of struck a nerve with people, it’s like I kind of inserted my own version of how to figure out that into people’s conversations. But it’s a conversation that’s been going on for a really long time. That it’s not nearly over.
Elizabeth Gilbert spent most of her early career writing about and for men; now, she's labeled a "chick lit" writer.
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Maybe you should enjoy this article with a cup of coffee or tea.<p> The <a href="https://drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001252?T=AU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> involved 4,923 type 2 diabetics living in Japan. The average participant was 66 years old. All of the participants were taken from the rolls of the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a study geared at learning about the effects of new treatments and lifestyle changes on the health of diabetics. <br> <br> The participants filled out questionnaires concerning their health, diet, habits, and other factors. Among the questions were two focused on determining how much green tea or coffee, if any, the participants consumed over the course of a week. The health of the participants was recorded for five years. During this time, 309 of the test subjects died from a variety of causes. <br> <br> Subjects who drank more than one cup of tea or coffee per day demonstrated lower odds of dying than those who had none. Those who consumed the most tea and coffee, more than four and two cups a day, respectively, enjoyed the most significant reductions in their risk of death. This level of consumption was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201020190129.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p><p>Most interestingly, the effects of drinking tea and coffee appear to combine to reduce risk even further. Those who reported drinking two or three cups of tea a day and two or more cups of coffee were 51 percent less likely to die during the study, while those who drank a whopping four or more cups of tea and two or more cups of coffee had a 63 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-coffee-and-green-tea-might-reduce-death-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p>
So, should I start swimming in a vat of coffee and green tea?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY0E-JQxeoY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Not quite. </p><p> The primary takeaway from this study is that Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes who drink a lot of green tea and/or coffee die less often than similar people who do not. If this effect is caused by something in the drink, lifestyle choices people who drink that much tea all make, or something else remains unknown. The finding must be considered an association at this point. <br> <br> The eye-popping reductions in mortality rates are compared to the risk of death of others in the study. The people who died reported drinking less tea and coffee than those who lived. Unless you have several demographic and conditional similarities to the subjects of this study, you probably won't suddenly be at a two-thirds lower risk of death than your peers because you drink green tea. </p><p> Like all studies that depend on self-reporting, it is also possible that people misstated how much they consumed any one item. The study also did not look into other factors like socioeconomic status or education level, also known to impact death rates and potentially linked to coffee and tea consumption. </p><p> However, it is yet another study in the pile that suggests that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coffee</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">green tea</a> are good for you. That much is increasingly <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreed</a><a href="https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> upon</a>. This study also suggests the benefits are additive, which is a new development.</p><p><br> So, while it isn't time to start the IV drip of green tea, a cup or two probably won't <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20201022/coffee-green-tea-might-extend-life-for-folks-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hurt</a>. </p>
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.
A study finds 1.8 billion trees and shrubs in the Sahara desert.
- AI analysis of satellite images sees trees and shrubs where human eyes can't.
- At the western edge of the Sahara is more significant vegetation than previously suspected.
- Machine learning trained to recognize trees completed the detailed study in hours.
Why this matters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkyODg5NX0.O3S2DRTyAxh-JZqxGKj9KkC6ndZAloEh4hKhpcyeFDQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="3770d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c27b79d4c0600fb6ebb82e650cabec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Area in which trees were located
Credit: University of Copenhagen<p>As important as trees are in fighting climate change, scientists need to know what trees there are, and where, and the study's finding represents a significant addition to the global tree inventory.</p><p>The vegetation Brandt and his colleagues have identified is in the Western Sahara, a region of about 1.3 million square kilometers that includes the desert, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel" target="_blank">the Sahel</a>, and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/subhumid-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sub-humid zones</a> of West Africa.</p><p>These trees and shrubs have been left out of previous tabulations of carbon-processing worldwide forests. Says Brandt, "Trees outside of forested areas are usually not included in climate models, and we know very little about their carbon stocks. They are basically a white spot on maps and an unknown component in the global carbon cycle."</p><p>In addition to being valuable climate-change information, the research can help facilitate strategic development of the region in which the vegetation grows due to a greater understanding of local ecosystems.</p>
Trained for trees<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk5NTI3NH0.fR-n1I2DHBIRPLvXv4g0PVM8ciZwSLWorBUUw2wc-Vk/img.jpg?width=980" id="e02c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79955b13661dca8b6e19007935129af1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Martin Brandt/University of Copenhagen<p>There's been an assumption that there's hardly enough vegetation outside of forested areas to be worth counting in areas such as this one. As a result the study represents the first time a significant number of trees — likely in the hundreds of millions when shrubs are subtracted from the overall figure — have been catalogued in the drylands region.</p><p>Members of the university's Department of Computer Science trained a machine-learning module to recognize trees by feeding it thousands of pictures of them. This training left the AI be capable of spotting trees in the tiny details of satellite images supplied by NASA. The task took the AI just hours — it would take a human years to perform an equivalent analysis.</p><p>"This technology has enormous potential when it comes to documenting changes on a global scale and ultimately, in contributing towards global climate goals," says co-author Christian Igel. "It is a motivation for us to develop this type of beneficial artificial intelligence."</p><p>"Indeed," says Brandt says, "I think it marks the beginning of a new scientific era."</p>
Looking ahead and beyond<p>The researchers hope to further refine their AI to provide a more detailed accounting of the trees it identifies in satellite photos.</p><p>The study's senior author, Rasmus Fensholt, says, "we are also interested in using satellites to determine tree species, as tree types are significant in relation to their value to local populations who use wood resources as part of their livelihoods. Trees and their fruit are consumed by both livestock and humans, and when preserved in the fields, trees have a positive effect on crop yields because they improve the balance of water and nutrients."</p><p>Ahead is an expansion of the team's tree hunt to a larger area of Africa, with the long-term goal being the creation of a more comprehensive and accurate global database of trees that grow beyond the boundaries of forests.</p>
Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.
- During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
- The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
- Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
A Bund parade in New York, October 30, 1939.
Credit: Library of Congress
Credit: Herald Tribune
Postcards from Camp Siegfried