Edward Abbey Abbey's Road

ISBN 13: 9780844672014

Abbey's Road

 
9780844672014: Abbey's Road

“The natural world, as we call it, has already become remote, out of reach, mysterious, in the minds of urban and suburban Americans. They see the wilderness disappearing, slipping away, receding into an inaccessible past. But they are mistaken. That world can still be rescued... that is my main excuse for this book.”—Edward Abbey

You are about to visit some of the most exciting places on earth. Not the sort of excitement that makes morning headlines or the nightly news. Instead it is the excitement that comes from experiencing the natural world as it always has been and should be, and seeing human beings living in tune with its subtlest rhythms. In Australian cattle country and in the primitive outback. On a desert island off Mexico and in the Sierra Madres. On the Rio Grande and in the great Southwest. On Lake Powell in Utah and in the living American desert. It is adventure. It is enlightenment. It is vintage Abbey.

“I have been along a few of Mr. Abbey’s roads. He sees much more than I did. Indeed, reading him is often better than being there was.”—John Leonard, author of Reading for My Life

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Review:

Curmudgeon, environmental brawler, and literary desert rat, Edward Abbey nursed dreams of one day walking out into the wild "to become one with the landscape. To just... disappear." He made valiant efforts to make good on that dream of escape in sometimes harebrained, often dangerous expeditions to difficult places, adventures some of which are recounted in this lively collection of essays.

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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