Brian's Reviews > What's Eating Gilbert Grape

What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges
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's review
Jan 20, 2014

Read from July 29 to August 03, 2012

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? from the perspective of someone who grew up in Iowa -- that field-of-dreams, first-to-the-primaries, nothing-but-corn-and-more-corn mythical paradise that purports to be the heartbeat of the United States -- is a romance. Romance, not in sense of 24 year old Gilbert being torn between an affair with a married woman old enough to be his mum and a femme fatal 15 year old from Michigan, but in the sense of Don Quixote in quest of the Holy Grail, of Holden Caulfield searching for honesty. Gilbert is looking for a path around his family in a state where family is a synonym for the deity. He is searching for a way to hang onto a past that has already become the future. He is an angry young man, as likeable as most mythical Iowans are raised to become. Hedges wastes little breath dancing around the loveliness of small town folk and Midwest sunsets. Nor does he elevate Gilbert’s quest to the level of Indiana Jones in terms of pace or action. Grape is sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant, but right to the highly choreographed conclusion, it is an adventure. Without the pretence of a suit of armour, Gilbert tackles one everyday dragon after another until he finally confronts himself in the mirror.
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