Liz Gilbert’s City of Girls — CBS interview transcription

Hi everyone ❤︎

Thanks for all your love on that last post; unexpected but super kind. Especially from you very forgiving PhD’s/candidates lol. ;))

Today (or tonight, in my case) I’ve got something fun. Some of you probably know (because I keep mentioning it in posts, comments, Instagram, emails, and anyone I talk to) that I love Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert and her free Magic Lessons podcast, in which she shares amazing creative coaching insights, partly by juxtaposing successful writers/artists with beginning artists in a mentoring format. Liz’s newest book “City of Girls” hit the shelves today and she’s been busy promoting it like mad (I know because I “follow” her and am on her email list) — man, I can see it’s hard work being a successful author!

I pre-ordered my copy a month or so ago. It’s the signed version — a steal at US $19.60, which was the same price as the unsigned version at that time. I got an email saying it shipped today. Excited to read it, since it sounds like fun, and I hardly ever read fiction.

Some folks criticize Liz, denigrating her work as being “priv lit” or what have you, but I feel that whether you like her work or not (I haven’t read much of it to be totally honest), she’s obviously worked very hard to get where she is (just watch any of the many, many interviews and talks available on YouTube), and she uses her success to help us/the masses free ourselves creatively. And she is just a really loving and sharing person, not to mention extremely self-aware and self-ironic. So… there are worse ways to be wildly successful, in my “books” at least. Hehe.

Liz posted this clip of her interview with CBS This Morning on her social media channels, and being the transcription-loving freak that I am, I’ve transcribed the whole dang thing. Thought I’d share it with y’all. Enjoy! Note: my favourite part was her “honest memoir” comment. This is what I’ve been suspecting. Pretty sure that’s how Hemingway did it… ;)))

xo n

“Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert talks new novel “City of Girls” – YouTube video published on Jun 3, 2019 by CBS This Morning

[Opens with brief movie clip from “Eat, Pray, Love.”]
[Red-robed man at ashram says to desk lady, presenting guest:] This is Liz Gilbert.
[Julia Roberts as Liz Gilbert:] Hi, nice to meet you!
[Desk lady at ashram points to button on her shirt that says “I am in SILENCE.”]
[JR as LG:] Where did you get that button?
[Red-robed man, smiling:] They sell them in the bookstore.
[JR as LG:] That is exactly what I need! I need something like that. Because I don’t listen. I never have! My mom used to call me Little Miss Chatty Cathy because I just ramble, I am a rambler, I am… rambling now.
[End of movie clip.]

[CBS guy 1, laughing:] That’s actress Julia Roberts of course, playing Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love.” The movie was adapted from Gilbert’s 2006 memoir of the same name. Her books have sold more than twenty million copies worldwide—

[CBS guy 2:] Wow.

[CBS guy 1:] —Gilbert’s newest novel, “City of Girls,” explores the life of a young woman coming of age in New York City’s glamorous and sometimes scandalous theatre world in the 1940’s. Elizabeth Gilbert, good morning! Welcome.

[Liz, smiling:] Good morning!

CBS guy 1: You have said that “if you want to write an honest memoir, write a novel.”

[Liz, laughing:] Oh. Busted!

[CBS guys and gal: laughter]

[CBS guy 1, smiling big:] And that “you will learn a lot about my youth in this book.”

[Liz, smiling:] Yeah.

[CBS guy 1:] What will we learn?

[Liz, smiling big:] Oh my goodness, you’ve set me up, but let’s just go for it. Um, this is a book about very promiscuous young women behaving very recklessly —

[CBS guy 1:] Ahahaha!

[Liz, still smiling, but growing more serious around the eyes, and quite serious toward the end:] — and experiencing and testing the limits of their power.

[CBS guy 1, cross-talking in the middle of the word “power”:] Why would you set it in the forties?

[Liz:] I set it in New York city in the 1940’s because I feel like that is the most impossibly glamorous moment of New York history, and as somebody who’s loved New York forever, I wanted to just play in that world of, like, mid-town Manhattan, The Great White Way [a section of Broadway so-named for its millions of lights], the music, the shows; and setting it in the theatre world meant that I got to amp up that glamour even more.

[CBS guy 2:] You’ve also called it a ‘champagne cocktail’ — how do you put a cocktail into… into prose?

[Liz:] Well, what I said to my editor, when I turned it in, was: “I want people to have to knock this back in one gulp [mimics taking a drink from a shot glass] and not be able to stop reading.” ‘Cause there’s, there’s — I tried to put suspense in it, and action in it, to kind of keep you unable to turn away, and maybe you’ll leave feeling a little drunk. [laughs]

[CBS gal:] Well mission accomplished. I mean, your first line of the book, “In the summer of 1940 when I was nineteen years old, and an idiot” — 

[All laugh]

[CBS gal:] — I mean that just sort of grabbed my attention; but what’s so fascinating to me about this play — about, about this book — is it’s about female desire and consequences of that; it’s certainly about friendship; but it’s a story, and then there’s a play within the story, and then there are reviews within the story, then there are lyrics within the story, and I keep thinking, you had to write ALL of that. And keep track—

[Liz, clarifying:] I, I got to write all of that.

[CBS gal:] You got to write all of that. Very — very good. Point well taken.

[Liz, smiling, nodding meaningfully:] Yeah.

[CBS gal:] — And that you had to keep track of all those different story lines, Liz.

[Liz:] Yeah. And the entire book takes place within the framework of a letter that she’s writing back to somebody — it’s written from the point of view of a woman who’s in her nineties, and she’s just gotten a letter from someone saying, “I want to know what you were to my father, back in the day.” And the whole book is an answer to that. And then within it, there’s a play and there’s all — but for me, that’s so much fun, because I got to experiment with so many different kinds of form, and making up Broadway show tunes, and the lyrics to that —

[CBS speakers:] Oh that’s [“pretty fun as well”?/ crosstalk/agreement]

[CBS guy 1:] You spent six years writing this book. And you said that writing it was kind of like learning — you had to learn essentially about another time, which was like learning a foreign language.

[Liz:] Yeah. This is — this is the second book that I’ve written that’s a historical novel, and it is true that it is like learning another language, to the point where you immerse yourself for years. It was six months — six years of research.

[CBS guy 1:] Yeah.

[Liz:] You immerse yourself in it so that by the time you sit down to write, you’re not overthinking. You just know how these people spoke, you know how they dressed, you know what they ate, you know what things cost; so that you just disappear yourself into that world.

[CBS gal:] You know at one point, you said “At some point in a woman’s life, she gets tired of being ashamed”—

[Liz:] Yeah.

[CBS gal:] —“and she just wants to be free to be herself.”

[Liz:] Yes.

[CBS gal:] And I wonder how that applied to you because during — before this book, you lost your partner Rayya,

[Liz, nodding:] Yeah.

[CBS gal:] I remember meeting Rayya. And you went through a very difficult time with that, Liz [photo of Liz with Rayya flashes on screen]. So your personal life is so fascinating to me… how can I ask a question without being impolite or indelicate?

[Liz:] I’ve written six memoirs, you can ask whatever you want [laughs].

[CBS gal:] Well because “Eat, Pray, Love” was about the terrible breakup with your marriage; meet a guy fall in love with him; then you fall in love with Rayya,

[Liz:] Yeah.

[CBS gal:] Now you were recently with a man. How do we understand about Liz. Help us understand. It’s none of our — I also say it’s none of our business.

[Liz:] I made it your business. I mean, I can’t sit here and say “It’s not your business” when I’m on Instagram telling you my life [smiles].

[CBS gal:] Is love just love? Is that what we should —

[Liz:] Well love who you love, that is definitely it. And it never occurred to me — it would never occur to me — to discriminate in love based on gender. I fell in love with Rayya. I didn’t fall in love with a body. You know, I fell in love with — 

[CBS gal:] Was she your best friend?

[Liz:] She was my best friend for many years, and when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer I was forced — you know, with the reckoning of her —  immediacy of her death, to have to bring that forward and say there’s — there’s a name for this love that I have for this person, and that is, that is… she’s the love of my life.

[CBS crew: nodding and sounds of understanding.]

[CBS guy 2:] Liz Gilbert I have so much I want to ask you—

[CBS gal, cross-talking:] We’re bringing her — we’re bringing Liz back?

[CBS guy 2:] We are bringing — yeah, she’s gonna stick around for —

[CBS gal, smiling happily:] Oh! Okay.

[CBS guy 2:] —for before we go. Which is why—

[CBS gal, looking at Liz:] You’re not leaving!

[CBS guy 2, emphatically looking at Liz:] Which is why we have to go right now, so we have time for that.

[Liz, laughing:] Okay good! I’ll sit here as long as you let me.

[CBS guy 2:] “City of Girls” goes on sale tomorrow [June 4, 2019]; go to to read an excerpt. It’s a beautiful volume; you will enjoy it; you won’t regret it at all.

[End of vid.]




Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. This post was sponsored by Nadine’s beauty sleep (i.e. lack thereof) and her strange obsessive compulsion to stay up long past kid story-times and tuck-ins for the sole purpose of transcribing, formatting and publishing words. Thank you for reading. ❤︎

[Edit 2019-06-10:] p.s. follow Liz on Instagram!

And I am @bloom.words over there. :))

12 thoughts on “Liz Gilbert’s City of Girls — CBS interview transcription

  1. El.

    Thanks so much for this Nadine! I’m a huge fan of Liz as well. Her philosophy even more than her books. Her approach can be a great help for a struggling, aspiring or battered writer. I especially recommend her audio masterclass for Calm where she distills her approach to writing and it’s full of useful tips and uplifting perspective. And beautifully narrated of course. But I’m sure you can find it elsewhere in different formats. Can’t wait for her new book, so jealous Nadine you got a signed copy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaha for the signed copy, yes finally an email list it felt like it paid to be on! (she doesn’t email often at all, and I’ve been dying for a chance to somehow support her art in an affordable way, the signed option was such a bonus!!) Love your comment so much, thanks El, and thank you very much also for this note about the audio masterclass, I’ll have to check that out, never heard of it till now! xoxo


  2. I lover her, too. Have since Eat, Pray, Love. Loved all her books fiction and non-, especially Big Magic, and the podcast. I love her writing, but I also just love her unabashed “being-ness.” She loves life and is living it fully and sharing herself and her (big) talents with the world. She is creativity personified; something to aspire to. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “but I also just love her unabashed “being-ness.”” THAT’S IT EXACTLY!!!!! yes you’ve nailed it here. this is actually what I was journalling about today as well. thanks for your wonderful comment! 💛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw the movie, and I love Julia Roberts. It is true that we as authors, must write what we know, so it follows that almost any novel must be part memoir. Good for her for acknowledging that. Thanks, Nadine. Love, Dr. Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So nice to see you here again doc, missed you. :)) I love julia roberts too, though if I’m super picky and honest I saw the movie without having read the book and she just did not jive in for me in that role. feel terrible for saying it. but also when she was having trouble zipping up her jeans on her perfect body and all that… could not relate. in my mind the casting could have been better, especially now that I’ve read some of the book. But then who could really be her? Basically Liz needed to be played by Liz or someone near-identical. :))) xoxo love n

      Liked by 1 person

    1. oooh. I love that question. I haven’t read it and that’s partly because I myself am committed lol, but mainly because I have blog reading addiction. I’ve tried to read quite a few books in the past few years including Eat Pray Love (about one-third through for a year now, feel terrible saying that), but only made it through a handful or two (said shamefacedly). I truly am excited to read City of Girls though. These days I feel like it’s sort of like reading an author’s blog, when you get to buy and read their book hot off the press. It’s what’s happening with them NOW, as opposed to some years ago. And in my case buying it is a way of giving back a teeny tiny little for all that Liz Gilbert shared in her brilliant podcast. I really really love that podcast.

      Have you read it Paul? Thanks so much for stopping by here! Saw some of your other lovely comments and have to rush off for school lunch pickup but will respond later, thanks again!!!


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