Rachel ShukertI’ve been a fan of Rachel Shukert ever since I read her piece on Salon.com about how Rock Band saved her marriage.

Like that piece, the title of her new book is also rather tongue-in-cheek. Everything is Going to be Great is a memoir about two years Shukert misspent in Europe in her early 20s. The book has received warm praise from places like Jewcy.com, where Jason Diamond says “Shukert’s stories are accessible, clever, and most of all, extremely memorable, and she has proven herself a master of the memoir.”

Indeed, as I’ve noted before, she’s a wry, witty writer who’s not afraid to be bawdy. She pokes fun at herself and everyone around her but she can also make a serious point when she has something important to say.

In her previous book, Have You No Shame? And Other Regrettable Stories, Shukert described what it was like to grow up Jewish in “white-bread” Omaha, Nebraska. She said she was one of 37 students in Nebraska's only Jewish elementary school and spent her days dreaming of a “fantasy Aryan boyfriend named Chris McPresbyterian.” You get the idea.

If you’d like a small taste of Shukert’s writing, you can check out a column she wrote for the Wall Street Journal this week in which she gives her take on another memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love.

Here’s an excerpt:

At first glance, Elizabeth Gilbert is reflexively, almost compulsively self-deprecating. She criticizes herself for everything — her ever-increasing pant size, the frivolity of her inner monologue during meditation — everything, that is, except the impetus for her journey in the first place: the breakdown of her marriage. On this subject (and this subject alone), she is conspicuously silent. We hear about her grief, and her husband’s anger (at which she feigns incredulity), but if you want to really want to figure out what went down, you have to read between the lines (hint: I don’t think it was just that she didn’t want kids.) To admit that she did something genuinely hurtful, that she was not so much a victim of circumstance as lying in a bed that she herself had made, might have added real depth to her character, and made for a far more interesting book, but it would undoubtedly have made her less sympathetic to her audience. It’s hard to imagine Oprah, who rarely shrinks from moralizing on experiences she’s never had, endorsing such a work. Gilbert exchanged honesty for likability, and now she’s being played by Julia Roberts in a movie. It’s a canny trade-off, but it’s one I wish she hadn’t had to make.

Last I checked the column had sparked quite a few interesting comments. Check ‘em out.

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