Matt's Reviews > The Last American Man

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert
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Dec 05, 10

Read in December, 2010

This book will disappoint if you are looking to it primarily for its ideas about the wilderness, ecology, and U.S. culture, about Conway's proposals for a new way. It is instead primarily a biography, with all the fullness that implies. So, there are many (repetitive) details about Conway's love life and his tortured relationship with his father. Still, there are interesting insights, such as how Conway cannot "manage" his love life as project like he does the other projects in his life, that sometimes one's failure in this area of life can come as a surprise. Further, one can see how deeply marked Conway is by his father's simple lack of acceptance and affirmation. Still, you wish Conway would apply some of his strength to becoming more psychologically healthy, to stepping out of his father's shadow, and simply get on with the good things in his life. It can be grating to spend time with Conway. Still, Gilbert's writing is excellent, and she does an excellent job of parsing why Conway captures our imagination (we want to know that living such a life is possible, even if we have no honest intentions of doing so ourselves) and how one's ideals must often be re-negotiated during the passage of one's life.
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