When Elizabeth met Eustace

The first of Elizabeth Gilbert’s nonfiction books — before the enormously popular memoirs “Eat, Pray, Love” and now “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage” — was “The Last American Man,” a 2002 bio of Eustace Conway, who lives neck-deep in nature on a 1,000-acre preserve near Boone.

“The Last American  Man” may lag her later work in sales, but Gilbert won’t easily top this for a visceral opening line: “By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree.”