Epitaph for A Desert Anarchist

Epitaph for A Desert Anarchist

The Life and Legacy of Edward Abbey

Book - 1994
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Baker & Taylor
Presents the first full-length biography of the popular Southwestern naturalist and philosopher, author of such acclaimed works as The Monkey Wrench Gang and Desert Solitaire.

Blackwell North Amer
Novelist, essayist, naturalist, philosopher, and social critic, the late Edward Abbey may have been the most popular writer to take the American Southwest as his subject. In a career that began in the early 1950s and ended only with his death in 1989, he published twenty-one books - among them Desert Solitaire, his account of his seasons as a park ranger at Utah's Arches National Monument, and the bestselling novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which introduced the term ecodefense to the struggle to protect the environment - and won the praise and admiration of readers and writers alike. (No less an authority than Larry McMurtry called Abbey "the Thoreau of the American West.") Now James Bishop Jr., who has been granted full access to all of Abbey's papers, has fashioned the first complete and most revealing portrait of this singular American author.
Born in Appalachian Pennsylvania in time for the Great Depression, Edward Paul Abbey first saw the arid landscape of the Colorado Plateau when he was a teenager riding the rails and seems never to have recovered from the experience. "I love it so much," he said, "that I find it hard to talk about it," but talk and write he did, in defiant celebration and high-spirited defense of America's last wild Eden, engaged as he was in an affair of the heart that, as Bishop says, "caused him to be hailed, jailed, and railed against." For if Abbey now seems like a prophet - he went after ranching, agricultural, mining, and timber enterprises feeding off federally subsidized land, water, and trees three decades ago - throughout much of his life he was vilified as a crackpot, a dangerous radical, and worse. And if he was beloved by his readers and embraced by partisans of various causes, this deliberately provocative, sardonic, and somewhat shy desert rat went through five marriages and countless affairs before, late in life, he began to show any deep tenderness or understanding toward women. In these areas, as elsewhere, Bishop does not hesitate to present Abbey in the full roundness of his contrariness, his passions, his need to put words to paper.
Finally, of course, it is Abbey's work that matters and lasts, and here Bishop is not afraid to rank the best of Abbey with Thoreau's Walden, with Huckleberry Finn, Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River," Faulkner's "The Bear," and Moby Dick. In doing so he offers eloquent testimony and makes a persuasive case for the man and writer he calls "a potent blend of anti-establishment and Lone Ranger, Samuel Adams and Natty Bumppo," a true American original.

Publisher: New York : Atheneum ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, c1994.
ISBN: 9780689121951
Branch Call Number: 920 ABBEY, E.
Characteristics: xv, 254 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


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