Eat, Pray, Oprah

October 5th, 2007 by Larry Smith

LizG-BN.JPG I was on line at the bookstore at the airport yesterday (New Yorker? The Atlantic? SI with my fightin’ Phillies on the cover? I went with Vanity Fair, perfectly sweetened plane candy) and saw that the woman in front of me was buying Eat, Pray, Love. “Is it a gift or are you buying it for yourself?” I asked her (she looked so ecstatic about the purchase I figured that, like me, she took serious delight in gifting it people she was sure would devour it).

“For me,” she said. “I’m on my way to Rome.”

As Eat, Pray lovers know, the first section is set in Rome, and one of the greatest 100-page sprints of a memoir opening I’ve ever read. My Rome-bound friend was in for a treat.

I told her that the book’s author Elizabeth Gilbert would be on Oprah tomorrow (today) and that the little online magazine I run was one of two spots graced with an excerpt (Oprah’s O was the other), which we asked for back before the book’s publication after reading the galley. What I didn’t tell my new friend was that I first met Liz back when we were both writing stories about Burning Man (she for SPIN, me for P.O.V. magazine) and that such wild success—E, P, L has sold more than 1 million copies—could not have happened to a more talented, humble, groovy person.

“I haven’t been this excited since Bono was here,” Oprah tells Liz today. Here’s to that—and the power of a great story.

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