On storytelling and Liz Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of those authors whose work I enjoy reading partly because of how much she writes about herself there, in addition to her subject.

"Eat Pray Love" is not really a good example here because of how self-centered that book is, by default - I mean, it's a book about Liz. It's supposed to be.

But let's take, say, "The Last American Man" which is a book about Eustace Conway who is both a nutter and a character, and many things more. I'm only a few dozen pages in, but even now I've come across paragraphs like

"I was twenty-two years old, acting as if I were a Western cowgirl - an act that took considerable pretense, given the inconvenient reality that I was actually a former field hockey player from Connecticut."

"The other wranglers on the ranch even had an authentic cowgirl nickname for me. They all called me Blaze. But only because I'd asked them to."

Something along those lines.

Even The Man has, after I read a few bits out aloud to him, taken up reading it. I think he's enjoying it. I definitely am.

I love when authors put bits of themselves in their writing, it's sort of the difference between... study material and feature writing, almost: one's to pass on information, the other to tell a story. (Talking of feature writing: did you know that the movie "Coyote Ugly" is based on a feature article Liz wrote for GQ magazine? Because Liz was one of the bartenders in that Coyote Ugly saloon in East Village, New York?)

It's why I love National Geographic so much, I think. Sure, not all articles are awesome, but the ones that are, to me - tell a story. Not only about the chosen topic, but the author.

It's like talking with a (good) friend over a cup of tea in a cozy restaurant, as opposed to listening to a (boring) university lecturer in a big hall - both can talk about sociology, or Antarctic, or whatever, but one's interesting and the other one sucks.

And when university lecturers are awesome, they tell stories, too. I love stories.

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