Fitzgerald Theater
St. Paul, Minnesota
July 11, 2014

Today I attended National Public Radio’s interview of Elizabeth Gilbert, a tall blond woman in a skirt and sweater set. It’s an audience of women in starched linen, some buzzing Gilbert for her narcissism, others enamored with EAT PRAY LOVE. Her next book, COMMITTED, an earnest account about the legal battles bringing her Brazilian fiancé to the U.S., ends in a non sequitur — marriage, with a later stinging denouement of divorce. The Interviewer’s questions are trite, her smug voice annoying. Gilbert is charming by rote.

Then talk of Gilbert’s new book about 19th century botanist, Alma Whittaker. The interviewer likens her to the intrepid 19th century woman traveler who climbed the Matterhorn in bloomers and traveled alone across the Middle East to escape Victorian drawing rooms. Here the interviewer forgets the woman’s name.

“Gertrude Bell!” I sing out across the silent Fitzgerald Theatre, astonishing myself.

(Gertrude Bell, a contemporary of T. E. Lawrence, “Queen of the Desert.”)

“Yes, that’s the one,” says the interviewer, my neighbor nudging my arm in congratulation, my voice immortalized forever in ether. But my erudition is not transmitted over the air ways and no full text of the NPR interview seems to exist.

What is left for modern women but selfies?

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