One of the most popular and celebrated contemporary authors selects 31 of his favorite pieces -- both fiction and nonfiction -- including selections from such bestsellers as "Desert Solitaire", "The Brave Cowboy", "The Monkey Wrench Gang", "Abbey's Road", "Down the River", "The Journey Home", and more.
In this wise and lyrical book about landscapes of the desert and the mind, Edward Abbey guides us beyond the wall of the city and asphalt belting of superhighways to special pockets of wilderness that stretch from the interior of Alaska to the dry lands of Mexico.
Edward Abbey's first love was to write fiction, and as so many of his friends pointed out, "Black Sun" was his own personal favorite book. It contains some of his most lyrical writing, and it is unusually gentle and introspective for him.
Black Sun is a bittersweet love story involving an iconoclastic forest ranger and a freckle-faced "American princess" half his age. Like Lady Chatterley's lover, he initiates her into the rites of sex and the stark, secret harmonies of his wilderness. She, in turn, awakens in him the pleasure of love. Then she mysteriously disappears, plunging him into desolation. Black Sun is a singular novel in Abbey's repertoire, a romantic story of a solitary man's passion for the outdoors and for a woman who is seeing the natural world's true colors for the first time. "Like most honest novels, Black Sun is partly autobiographical, mostly invention, and entirely true. The voice that speaks in this book is the passionate voice of the forest," Abbey writes, "the madness of desire, and the joy of love, and the anguish of final loss."Edward Abbey spent most of his life in the American Southwest. He was the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the celebrated Desert Solitaire, which decried the waste of America's wilderness, and the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, the title of which is still in use today to describe groups that purposefully sabotage projects and entities that degrade the environment. Abbey was also one of the country's foremost defenders of the natural environment. He died in 1989.
Jack Burns is a cowboy and a man out of time. He has a steadfast refusal to accept the what he perceives as the tyranny of the twentieth century world he lives in and instead, Burns opts to ride his feisty chestnut mare across the New West--what was once a beautiful, unblemished land but that is now tarnished by airstrips and superhighways. He rejects contemporary society, refuses to register for the draft, and cuts down any and all fences he encounters. It is this personal code of ethics and way of being that get Jack into trouble with the law, and soon enough he finds himself running from the very thing that could break his spirit--a fight for his freedom which, if caught, he may have to swap for the confinement of a grubby jail cell. The novel was adapted into the 1962 film Lonely Are the Brave starring Kirk Douglas.
"The Brave Cowboy" Jack Burnes is a loner at odds with modern civilization. A man out of time, he rides a feisty chestnut mare across the New West -- a once beautiful land smothered beneath airstrips and superhighways. And he lives by a personal code of ethics that sets him on a collision course with the keepers of law and order. Now he has stepped over the line by breaking one too many of society's rules. The hounds of justice are hot in his trail. But Burnes would rather die than spend even a single night behind bars. And they have to catch him first.
First published in 1968, Desert Solitaire is one of Edward Abbey's most critically acclaimed works and marks his first foray into the world of nonfiction writing. Written while Abbey was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah, Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man's quest to experience nature in its purest form. Through prose that is by turns passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world as well as his own internal struggle with morality. As the world continues its rapid development, Abbey's cry to maintain the natural beauty of the West remains just as relevant today as when this book was written.
Abbey's sojourn in Arches National Park and beyond.
A curious look into the life of the Colorado river before the Glen Canyon Dam, as well as a collection of stories of life -- and sometimes death.
While best known for his fiction, Edward Abbey was also an enthusiastic creator of verse. Earth Apples, Abbey's first and only collection of poetry, adds to his literary reputation as an irreverent writer. Whether writing about vast desert landscapes, New York City, or a love of bawdy women, Abbey's verse is eloquent and unapologetically passionate. The poems gathered here, published digitally for the first time, are culled from Abbey's journals and give an insightful and unique glance into the mind of this literary legend.
"Fire on the Mountain;" Grandfather John Vogelin's land is his life -- a barren stretch of New Mexican wilderness, mercifully bypassed by civilization. Then the government moves in. And suddenly the elderly, mule-stubborn rancher is confronting the combined land-grabbing greed of the County Sheriff, the Department of the Interior, the Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S. Air Force. But a tough old man is like a mountain lion: if you back him into a corner, he'll come out fighting.
When his third wife abandons him in Tucson, boozing, misanthropic anarchist Henry Holyoak Lightcap shoots his refrigerator and sets off in a battered pick-up truck for his ancestral home in West Virginia. Accompanied only by his dying dog and his memories, the irascible warhorse (a stand-in for the "real" Abbey) begins a bizarre cross-country odyssey -- determined to make peace with his past -- and to wage one last war against the ravages of "progress."
In the great Southwest, a new breed of settler, white and Indians together, is creating a new way of life in the wilderness - a pastoral economy - with skills and savvy resurrected from the pre-industrial past. Meanwhile, in a last surviving bastion of urban life, the remnants of the power elite are girding their armed forces to reimpose the old order. This is a land of horses and motorcycles, high-tech weaponry and primitive courage, and the struggle for the American future is mounting in intensity. No quarter is asked or given, and the outcome hangs in perilous balance against a background of magnificent nature and eternal human verities.
"Hayduke" was a wilderness avenger, industrial development saboteur, nighttime troublemaker and barroom brawler. No wonder he was last seen clinging to a cliff, under fire from air and ground. Presumed dead by those who stalked him, whereabouts unknown to those who knew him, Hayduke lives -- and he does it with the same fiery vengeance and inspired scheming that made him the hero of eco-warriors everywhere. When he appears this time, it's to take on Goliath, the worlds' largest mobile earth-moving machine, now munching its way through the desert in search of toothsome minerals.
The bridge, bedecked with bunting, streamers and Day-Glo banners, was ready. The throng prepared to unloose a cheer or two. Suddenly the centre of the bridge rose up and broke in two along a jagged zigzag time. What they're planning next?
Warhorse, gadfly, storyteller, naturalist--there is no simple category to contain the vibrant prose voice of Edward Abbey. And this snappy collection of essays displays the author of "Desert Solitaire" and "The Monkey-Wrench Gang" at the height of his curmudgeonry.
According to Jack Haywood, the trouble with the Hill--the farm--is that nothing ever happens there. He expects this summer, the summer of his fourteenth year, to be no different. First there is Jenny Holmes, whom he can go to see only on the pretext of seeing her brother, Les, a real pain. Jenny, who lives a mile and a half away by moonlit trail through piney woods and cypress swamp. Then there is the 'gator hole, even further from the Hill, where one can bravely swim in the secret conviction that the 'gator is a myth. There are the great summer thunderstorms, but they are to be expected. And then there is Rodney, also fourteen, down from White Plains, New York--his mother recently deceased--come to spend the summer on the Hill. But even if Jack never says so, at the summer's end, he'll know that much indeed has happened this summer on the Hill, much that is tender and warm--and quite real--in this story that is not so much of adolescence as it is of life itself--and of our right to hold to its celebration.
The selections gathered here are arranged chronologically by incident, not by date of publication, to offer Edward Abbey's life from the time he was the boy called Ned in Home, Pennsylvania, until his death in Tucson at age 62.
Abbey wrote "An empty man is full of himself", and "Henry James: our finest lady novelist". This is a collection of his aphorisms.
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