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The first part of Abbey's Road is given to a walkabout in the outback of Australia, whose scattered human settlements remind Abbey of towns in the American West, "although not so blatantly ugly." Having ignored good advice not to stray too far afield in that waterless place and lived to tell the tale, Abbey turns later in the book to other desert landscapes (islands in the Gulf of California, remote corners of the Grand Canyon, and the like) before delivering a series of trademark yawps against the forces that would just as soon bulldoze such places as protect them. Along the way Abbey recalls his work as a seasonal park ranger (which yielded his incomparable memoir, Desert Solitaire) and fire lookout, offers a few tongue-in-cheek words in defense of rednecks, and muses on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs and the virtues of his "slapstick, slapdash, sex-crazed manner"--all good and generally good-natured pieces, even if a few of them are now showing signs of age.
If you're new to Abbey's work, Abbey's Road is not the best place to start; have a look at The Best of Edward Abbey or The Serpents of Paradise, two sturdy, career-spanning collections. But if you've read his better-known books and want to have a closer look at the man behind them, Abbey's Road is the one to follow. --Gregory McNamee
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