I listened to the This American Life with Eustance Conway last night before going to bed (it focuses on Eustace and his brother’s journey across the country on horseback) and decided it’d be a good idea to post this again. Read this book if you haven’t already. It’s really wonderful.
Before Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the ubiquitous Eat, Pray, Love, she wrote a fantastic book about a guy named Eustace Conway called The Last American Man. Conway is a naturalist who moved out of his house when he was 17 years old to live in a teepee. From there, he bought a plot of land in North Carolina that he named Turtle Island and has been living the “old fashioned” way ever since.
There’s mountains more to the story than that, but the interesting part of this book is how Gilbert focuses on Eustace the person, not Eustace the mountain man. The Last American Man is not about what tools Eustace uses to make a barn or how Eustace catches the squirrels that he eats for dinner. The book is a sad chicken and egg story about a guy’s exile from his family life and the modern world and his extreme obsession with a forgotten way of life. Eustace is one of the most incredible, brutal, and intense men you’ll ever read about. His story reminds us of how difficult it is to simply go into the woods and “live off the land.” There are papers to be signed and lots of money to be made…
Eustace on This American Life (I highly recommend listening to this)