Cart

Désert solitaire (Nature Writing) PDF, ePub eBook


Hot Best Seller
Title: Désert solitaire (Nature Writing)
Author: Edward Abbey
Publisher: Published June 2nd 2016 by Éditions Gallmeister (first published 1968)
ISBN: null
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

35501302-d-sert-solitaire.pdf

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions


reward
How to download?
FREE registration for 1 month TRIAL Account.
DOWNLOAD as many books as you like (Personal use).
CANCEL the membership at ANY TIME if not satisfied.
Join Over 150.000 Happy Readers.


Peu de livres ont autant déchaîné les passions que celui que vous tenez entre les mains. Publié pour la première fois en 1968, Désert solitaire est en effet de ces rares livres dont on peut affirmer sans exagérer qu'il “changeait les vies” comme l'écrit Doug Peacock. À la fin des années 1950, Edward Abbey travaille deux saisons comme ranger dans le parc national des Arches Peu de livres ont autant déchaîné les passions que celui que vous tenez entre les mains. Publié pour la première fois en 1968, Désert solitaire est en effet de ces rares livres dont on peut affirmer sans exagérer qu'il “changeait les vies” comme l'écrit Doug Peacock. À la fin des années 1950, Edward Abbey travaille deux saisons comme ranger dans le parc national des Arches, en plein cœur du désert de l'Utah. Lorsqu'il y retourne, une dizaine d'années plus tard, il constate avec effroi que le progrès est aussi passé par là. Cette aventure forme la base d'un récit envoûtant, véritable chant d'amour à la sauvagerie du monde, mais aussi formidable coup de colère du légendaire auteur du Gang de la clef à molette. Chef-d'œuvre irrévérencieux et tumultueux, Désert solitaire est un classique du nature writing et sans conteste l'un des plus beaux textes jamais inspirés par le désert américain.

30 review for Désert solitaire (Nature Writing)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Desert Solitaire seemed the right book to take along on a trip to the southwest in September 2009. Abbey writes of the beauty of the southwest. As a ranger at Arches National Park he had a close relationship with some of our country’s most exquisite scenery. In the 18 essays that make up the book, he offers not only his appreciation for the sometimes harsh environment of Utah and Arizona, but his notions on things political. Those are not so compelling. He tells tales of people he has known and Desert Solitaire seemed the right book to take along on a trip to the southwest in September 2009. Abbey writes of the beauty of the southwest. As a ranger at Arches National Park he had a close relationship with some of our country’s most exquisite scenery. In the 18 essays that make up the book, he offers not only his appreciation for the sometimes harsh environment of Utah and Arizona, but his notions on things political. Those are not so compelling. He tells tales of people he has known and in doing so enhances an image of his southwest as at once a beautiful and terrible place. North Window in Arches National Park However, I have concluded, with apologies to Ernest Thompson, that Edward Abbey is an old poop. It is one thing to have a deep and abiding appreciation for a place, a thing, an experience, an environment, but Abbey seems determined that only certain sorts should be allowed to share that joy. And while he may wish for us as readers to appreciate what he appreciates, he seems uninterested in allowing for other joys by other people. While he offers detail and poetry about the desert and about untouched places, he sneers at the urban, at those he sees as lesser than himself. As such he taps into some tried and true American themes such as the romantic myth of self-sufficiency and our persistent national history of anti-city bias. Toss in some other dark impulses when he suggests that perhaps birth control for some poor people should be mandatory. Add a dose of survivalist paranoia as he sees one strong reason to support National Parks to be preserving a staging area for rebel militias after big government comes after us all. But don’t forget a gift for language, for description, for story-telling, and a strong poetic sensibility. Park Avenue - in Arches National Park For those of us who, for whatever reasons, may not be able to manage ten-mile hikes, or who cannot rappel down canyon walls to experience the full range of experience available at our national parks, for those who may not have dedicated our existences to living as closely to the land as possible, we also are Americans, we also are people, and it is possible to take joy in natural wonder without the benefit of Abbey’s athleticism. He clearly winces at the possibility of roads being built that allow the non-hikers among us a chance to see at all, up close, or, at least closer, some of the parts of our parks that are currently inaccessible and he decries as abominations the possibility of mechanisms being constructed that provide an enhanced experience to those in wheelchairs, as if that were somehow shameful. Having just returned from several of the national parks mentioned in this book, I can safely report that I saw much stunning beauty, felt my appreciation of my country’s natural wonders swell, and believe that it is my entitlement as an American, no less than 20-something backpackers, to take joy in this common heritage. My inability to manage a back-country hike should not prevent me and others like me from sharing in our nation’s natural wonders. Surely there is a happy medium between the paving over of everything that Abbey fears and allowing reasonable access to our nation’s natural treasures to those of us who are not outdoorsmen. Balanced Rock - at Arches National Park Beyond my gripes about his notions concerning who should be allowed into our parks, and other dark political impulses, Abbey is a very gifted writer. He has many stories to tell both about his personal experiences and about other characters he has encountered in his southwest existence. His love of the land comes through like a cactus barb into an unshod foot. You will get a feel for the lands he portrays, the land he loves. In addition, he seasons his narrative with references to more refined culture that one might find a bit surprising in a guy who presents as a mountain man. I have not read Abbey’s later writings so will keep an open mind on where he wound up regarding his politics. I may not harbor particularly warm feelings for the guy overall, but I do share his love of our national parks, his visceral appreciation for natural beauty and appreciate his great skill as a writer. Hold your nose over some of the darker parts of this book, but it is a special read when he is not ranting. (The shots in the review are mine from that trip.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Part Walden, part Mein Kampf ... Desert Solitaire (1968) is to a certain extent sand-mad Edward Abbey's homage to the beauty of the American Southwest and to the necessity of wilderness ... but mostly, the book is an autobiographical paean to the sheer wonder of Abbey himself. Like the pioneers, prospectors, and developers who preceded him, Abbey lays claim to all the canyonlands and Four Corners region of southern Utah and northern Arizona: "Abbey's Country" he calls it, and he seeks to fill ev Part Walden, part Mein Kampf ... Desert Solitaire (1968) is to a certain extent sand-mad Edward Abbey's homage to the beauty of the American Southwest and to the necessity of wilderness ... but mostly, the book is an autobiographical paean to the sheer wonder of Abbey himself. Like the pioneers, prospectors, and developers who preceded him, Abbey lays claim to all the canyonlands and Four Corners region of southern Utah and northern Arizona: "Abbey's Country" he calls it, and he seeks to fill every twisting canyon and windswept plateau of his private playground with his own immense, misanthropic ego. His collected jottings form a notebook of random, often paranoid observations cast in anemic prose. He throws in everything that crosses his mind: a wearisome narrative of his float down the Colorado with a laconic traveling companion; bare, boring lists of plant names; a violent short story about prospecting; a dishonoring and disgusting story about finding the body of a lost tourist; jejune meditations on death and mortality; all of it crusted over with inane metaphysical babbling, insulting rants, and absurd polemics directed against technology, development, Native Americans, tourists, religion, the Park Service, the aged, the young, the government, and anyone or anything that is not Ed. Yes, there are a few colorful descriptions of the scenery, but they are obscured by beer-swigging, cigar-chomping, beefsteak-chewing, bacon-burping, Bull-Durham big-mouth Ed's constant grab for attention. Abbey needs solitude about as much as a jackass needs a flush toilet. Ed's like your 10-year-old brother who torments you by jumping in front of your camera while you're trying to take a picture of a sunset or like a blathering guide who can't stem his prattle long enough to let you listen to the wind blowing through the canyons. All too often I found myself thinking, "Ed, shut up already and let me look around!" But he won't because he's got to tell me how he's crushed a rabbit's skull with a rock (it was an "experiment"), or how in a lovelorn moment he carved his name in an aspen (graffiti that will be twice as big in fifty years), or how he tore up dirt roads in his government-owned Chevvy pickup, or how he insulted some tourist or some tourist insulted him, or how he burned everything in sight with his paraffin-coated matches. Desert Solitaire is gonzo environmentalism, and it's showing its age. The immense majesty and haunting beauty of southern Utah's canyons deserves a far better panegyrist. Update: It's been ten years since I read Desert Solitaire and wrote this review. I'm happy to say that since then I've come across many excellent books on the Four Corners region. Two of the best are Ellen Meloy's The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone and Sky, a new journalistic approach filled with wit and charm. And next, Ann Zwinger's very detailed and still readable Wind in the Rock: The Canyonlands of Southeastern Utah. In fact, you can't go too far wrong with anything written by these two authors.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marvin

    Any discussion of the great Southwest regional writer Edward Abbey invariably turns to the fact that he was a pompous self-centered hypocritical womanizer. And those were his good qualities (just kidding, Michelle). He advocated birth control and railed against immigrants having children yet fathered five children himself, he fought against modern intrusion in the wilderness yet had no problem throwing beer cans out of his car window, He hated ranchers and farmers yet was a staunch supporter of Any discussion of the great Southwest regional writer Edward Abbey invariably turns to the fact that he was a pompous self-centered hypocritical womanizer. And those were his good qualities (just kidding, Michelle). He advocated birth control and railed against immigrants having children yet fathered five children himself, he fought against modern intrusion in the wilderness yet had no problem throwing beer cans out of his car window, He hated ranchers and farmers yet was a staunch supporter of the National Rifle Association, he hated tourists yet saw the Southwest as his personal playground, and (my favorite) he advocated wilderness protection with one reason being they would make good training grounds for guerrilla fighters who would eventually overthrow the government. Yet with all that, his readers forgive him mainly because he realized the total insanity of his contrary positions and made fun of it in his writings. And even his detractors have to admit that no other writer wrote more eloquently about the Southwest, often with the passion of a John Muir and the radical zeal of a Che Guevara. Desert Solitaire is a love song to the American Southwest and Abbey is the Thoreau of the desert. Laugh if you must at the author's ridiculous antics. There are many of them in this collection of essays. But it is worth it to get past the man and marvel at this eloquent plea for the preservation of the wonders of the Southwest desert. One more point, I first read this book while on a backpacking trip in Utah's Canyonland National Park. I don't think I ever read a book in a more appropriate and inspiring setting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ken-ichi

    Anyone who thinks about nature will find things to love and despise about Desert Solitaire. One moment he's waxing on about the beauty of the cliffrose or the injustice of Navajo disenfranchisement and the next he's throwing rocks at bunnies and recommending that all dogs be ground up for coyote food. He says "the personification of the natural is exactly the tendency I wish to suppress in myself" (p. 6) and then proceeds to personify every rock, bird, bush, and mountain. He's loving, salty, pet Anyone who thinks about nature will find things to love and despise about Desert Solitaire. One moment he's waxing on about the beauty of the cliffrose or the injustice of Navajo disenfranchisement and the next he's throwing rocks at bunnies and recommending that all dogs be ground up for coyote food. He says "the personification of the natural is exactly the tendency I wish to suppress in myself" (p. 6) and then proceeds to personify every rock, bird, bush, and mountain. He's loving, salty, petulant, awed, enraptured, cantankerous, ponderous, erudite, bigoted and just way too inconsistent to figure out what he's really trying to say. Which, clearly, is the wrong question all together. This book is about the desert and it is about Abbey and I don't think judging either of them is a particularly fruitful line of inquiry. Instead, think of Abbey as the naturalist's Id, the unfiltered conservationist urge, and the desert as the distilled un-human world where that beast rages and sleeps. If you love nature and you're appreciating an amazing view, you probably feel a very basic, child-like wonder. And if you then see some idiot drive by and throw an empty bottle out of his Hummer, I bet that at least for a moment, there is an Abbey-esque part of you that wishes the humans were dead. Well, most of the humans. Except for the ones that you like. And the ones that they like. And you know, the Hummer guy probably isn't all bad, just ignorant. But that first set of emotions, that, to me, seems to be the human half of this book, and in that sense, Abbey does a wonderful job exploring a wide range of emotional, personal reactions to the outdoors. And in the end, I think he provides so many contradictory personifications of the desert that they get all get stuck in the door Three Stooges style, and you're left with fairly dehumanized sense of the desert itself. I've never been to Utah myself, so I put together this gallery of some of the scenes and things in the book. Words & Notes demesne (n): a feudal lord's land, where the serfs labored. (p. 5) usufructuary (n): the holder of an usufruct, which is the right to use or benefit from property that you do not own. (p. 5) "Loveliness and exultation." This line made me consider the possibility that my favorite nature writers tend to spend as much time describing discomfort and horror at the hands of nature as they do adulating it. Abbey definitely gets at the former later in the book. I wonder if part of the reason some people find this kind of writing boring is a surfeit of ecstasy most readers don't share. gelid (adj): icy, cold. (p. 16) "Don't really care for ants." He also apparently doesn't like tarantulas. Sad. (p. 26) pismire (n): an ant, apparently because formic acid smells like piss. (p. 26) "There is no beauty in nature, said Baudelaire." Would love a citation. (p. 36) sinecure (n): an office without power or responsibility. (p. 41) "To refute the solipsist or the metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head: if he ducks he's a liar." (p. 97) "Fear betrays the rabbit to the great horned owl. Fear does the hard work, making the owl's job easy. After a lifetime of dread it is more than likely that the rabbit yields to the owl during that last moment with a sense of gratitude, as pleased to be eaten—finally!—as the owl is to eat." This is the kind of anthropomorphism I'm talking about (p. 98) "Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution? I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed to quick extinction." (p. 125) "'In the desert', wrote Balzac, somewhere, .there is all and there is nothing. God is there and man is not.'" I would love to source this quote but I just can't find it. Was Abbey's recollection faulty? (p. 184) He occasionally makes the point that the most horrifying thing about nature is not its capacity to mame, murder, and eat us, but its "implacable indifference." We don't fear the world because it's out to get us, we fear it because it doesn't even notice us, it doesn't even care enough to despise us. I like this idea. Oceans crush us, storms flatten us, lions eat us, viruses subvert us, not because we deserve it, but just because we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They're scary because they don't acknowledge us, and make us doubt our own reality. This is why Alien will always be scarier than the Predator. (p. 191) "Gaze not too long into the abyss..." Apparently this is Nietzsche. Reminds me of Neal's paraphrasing, "If you look too long at a makefile, the abyss looks back at you." (p. 210) I had no idea delphinium was toxic enough to kill cows. Go delphinium! (p. 222) In possibly his only citation, Abbey notes (I think) 2 Kings 3, which describes how the armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom lay waste to the Jordanian land of Moab. Not sure what he was getting at. That Moab, UT also suffers at human hands? Incidentally, the Moabites were founded when Lot's own daughters seduced him and got preggers. Scandalous! (p. 227)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    This is one of the few books I don't own that I really really really wish I did. I love this book. It makes me want to pack up my Jeep and head out for Moab. I love Abbey's descriptions of the desert, the rivers, and the communion with solitude that he learns to love over the course two years as a ranger at Arches National Park. Abbey explores environmentalism and government policies on the national parks. It wasn't my favorite part of the book, but he manages to do it in such a way that it's not This is one of the few books I don't own that I really really really wish I did. I love this book. It makes me want to pack up my Jeep and head out for Moab. I love Abbey's descriptions of the desert, the rivers, and the communion with solitude that he learns to love over the course two years as a ranger at Arches National Park. Abbey explores environmentalism and government policies on the national parks. It wasn't my favorite part of the book, but he manages to do it in such a way that it's not too invasive. What makes this book really work for me is the sheer love that Abbey has for Arches and Canyonlands, and the way in which he manages to make me believe I'm right there on the red rock with him. It's the literary equivalent of Ansel Adams. Oh, and I love how he throws beer cans out his truck window as he's meditating on the destruction of the wilderness by tourists and the government. Classic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    NYT essay: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/bo...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Almost all my friends who have read this book have given it five stars but not written reviews. Hey friends. *poke* I feel like this book has been recommended to me numerous times, enough to compel me to buy it one day from Amazon, where it has festered unread in my Kindle library for at least a year. But the universe was commanding me to read it, three mentions in 2015, so I buckled down to read it. My only wish is that I had been reading it IN Utah so I could have seen some of the places mentio Almost all my friends who have read this book have given it five stars but not written reviews. Hey friends. *poke* I feel like this book has been recommended to me numerous times, enough to compel me to buy it one day from Amazon, where it has festered unread in my Kindle library for at least a year. But the universe was commanding me to read it, three mentions in 2015, so I buckled down to read it. My only wish is that I had been reading it IN Utah so I could have seen some of the places mentioned in person rather than in my endless image searching on the internet. Of course, Edward Abbey warns that the places he describes won't exist once the reader encounters them in the book, because the desert is destined for gross commercialization and some of the land will literally disappear underwater because of damming ("you're holding a tombstone in your hands".) And the book was printed in 1968. It went on to become one of the most important early environmental works, alongside books like Silent Spring. Edward Abbey is admonishing, cranky, but completely reverent about the space he gets to live for a "season." He embraces the solitude, the heat, the utter lack of moisture, and the natural features that are only possible in this specific climate. I have so many parts of this book marked, but to do them justice would write a book in itself. I'd read the book, but feel that Abbey would be admonishing you for trying to experience anything through a book instead of getting OUT there."I entreat you, get out of those motorized wheelchairs, get off your foam rubber backsides, stand up straight like men! like women! like human beings! and walk - walk - WALK upon our sweet and blessed land!"

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    The only problem with waiting so long to read a seminal work, by a seminal author, is that you have the idea in your head who they will be. This? I kept thinking. This is the controversial Edward Abbey? This is what’s considered polemic? What, this good-humored common sense? More funny than it has a right to be. More alive. Also, what Abbey held up himself as his standard: interesting, original, important, and true. A deep respect for our wilderness— and more importantly, our wildness— and a deep The only problem with waiting so long to read a seminal work, by a seminal author, is that you have the idea in your head who they will be. This? I kept thinking. This is the controversial Edward Abbey? This is what’s considered polemic? What, this good-humored common sense? More funny than it has a right to be. More alive. Also, what Abbey held up himself as his standard: interesting, original, important, and true. A deep respect for our wilderness— and more importantly, our wildness— and a deep offense taken at the myriad threats to it. I like finding my people. Abbey is my people, without a box to hold him. (I knew myself well enough to have more Abbey on hand once I read my first one, and what’s interesting is, in Postcards From Ed, how harsh his own commentary is on Desert Solitaire. Well, not harsh. He honored it. But he saw it as the first stepping stone, one rock of many, whereas, apparently, he got weary of the lifelong fire from those who saw fault and not virtue— and humor— in what he called its “superficial notions.” “With Desert Solitaire I was only getting started,” Abbey wrote, and thank God for that.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    I wanted to like this a lot more than I was able to. Abbey includes some beautifully poetic writing about the desert landscape at times and if that remained the central focus of the book, it would be fantastic; however, the other focus of Desert Solitaire is Abbey himself and, at least based on the way he presents himself here, I just don't like Edward Abbey. He's pompous, both racist and sexist, hypocritical, and a rabbit murderer. He's not the kind of company I want to keep.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Why didn't I read this book sooner?? I asked myself. ...because I was meant to read it now. Right now, as I am looking at the arches and canyons described - as they are so fresh in my mind just returning home. As I can hear the canyon wren's song and feel the sun and breeze and snowflakes on my face. With the Navajo sandstone dust still in my boots. Now was the perfect time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    I'm not sure why everyone loves this book, or Edward Abbey in general. I couldn't even finish this. He is a macho hypocritical egomaniac, hiding behind the veil of saving the earth. totally thumbs down.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stefani

    With great difficulty, I sometimes think about my own mortality, the years I have left on earth, how with each year that I get older, the years remaining disproportionately seem shorter. Admittedly, it's a depressing train of thought to entertain, and makes me want to crawl under a proverbial rock and die...it also has a sickening domino effect with my thoughts then residing in the eternal questions of life—why am I here, what is my purpose in life, etc...and all the anxieties and regrets that g With great difficulty, I sometimes think about my own mortality, the years I have left on earth, how with each year that I get older, the years remaining disproportionately seem shorter. Admittedly, it's a depressing train of thought to entertain, and makes me want to crawl under a proverbial rock and die...it also has a sickening domino effect with my thoughts then residing in the eternal questions of life—why am I here, what is my purpose in life, etc...and all the anxieties and regrets that go along with those ponderings. *Sigh* I think I know now what it's like to be Scandinavian or French. In any case, I feel a little calmer about everything after reading this book. Although Abbey is admittedly a bit of a hypocritical prick with an axe to grind against humanity—calling the world overpopulated when he himself had five children is among one of several such statements he makes—he seems to have a very tender reverence for the natural world, and devotes much of the novel to prodigiously recording the natural beauty of Arches Natural Park from his six-month tenure as a park ranger. At the same time, he abhorrently rejects man's infringement on nature and lack of respect for the natural world, opposing development of all forms (including the dam that was being constructed in the park circa 1968). But if you can overlook all these short-lived rants, there is something meaningful to be gleaned from Abbey. I think the below passage sums it up pretty well: A few of the little amphibians will continue their metamorphosis by way of the nerves and tissues of one of the higher animals, in which process the joy of one becomes the contentment of the second. Nothing is lost except an individual consciousness here and there, a trivial perhaps even illusory phenomenon. The rest survive, mate, multiply, burrow, estivate, dream and rise again. The rains will come, the potholes shall be filled. Again. And again. And again. Despite the sentimentalities we humans heap on the significance of our individual lives, we are only a small part of a much larger universe.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I'm sorry, I know I should finish Book Club books. But they guy is an arrogant a**hole and I'd rather spend my little free time reading something I enjoy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ms.pegasus

    Humanist/misanthrope, spiritual atheist, erudite primitive, pessimistic idealist – not that these traits are incompatible. As descriptions of the author, Edward Abbey, they hint at a complicated man struggling to reconcile the contradictions he finds in himself. He embraces an individuality that defies categorization, and that often places himself in an uncomfortably ambivalent relationship with the reader. It is a point worth confronting because DESERT SOLITAIRE is in part a memoir of Abbey's y Humanist/misanthrope, spiritual atheist, erudite primitive, pessimistic idealist – not that these traits are incompatible. As descriptions of the author, Edward Abbey, they hint at a complicated man struggling to reconcile the contradictions he finds in himself. He embraces an individuality that defies categorization, and that often places himself in an uncomfortably ambivalent relationship with the reader. It is a point worth confronting because DESERT SOLITAIRE is in part a memoir of Abbey's year as a park ranger at Arches National Park. Abbey voices at times a surly and wounded outrage. Destruction of natural habitats by a society consumed by growth, government using its power as a profiteer rather than as a steward, and the alienation of people from nature are the primary targets of his outrage. I only began to like this book when he relaxes into a description of the terrain. The spring blooming of desert flowers, the symbiosis between the yucca and a particular type of moth, the animated awakening of sparse and precious life are described in vivid prose. We see the colors, feel the movement of wind and sand, taste the water, and smell the dried sage. Four plant communities are described: Pinyon pines and junipers on the mesa, brushes and grasses in the Salt Valley, poplar and cottonwood along the washes and streams, and fern, primrose, and columbine along the canyon walls. Each season is distinct and yet part of a total continuity: “Balanced on a point of equilibrium, hesitating, the world of the high desert turns toward summer.” One of Abbey's most interesting digressions from the present is his story of an excursion through Glen Canyon just before it was flooded by the Glen Canyon Dam which created Lake Powell. The imagery of architecture, geology, and a polyglot of history bring this now lost scenic wonder to life. This story is a perfect blend of personal testament, poetry, and historical perspective. Other reminiscences from the author's life are also embedded in this year's chronicle. DESERT SOLITAIRE is a thought-provoking book. Although published in 1968 it's relevance has, if anything, grown. Demands for oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, denial of the reality of Global Warming, Bureau of Land Management round-ups of mustangs, and legalization of wolf hunting are issues under debate today. In 2008 the Wall Arch collapsed, to much publicity. DESERT SOLITAIRE allows us to understand that event in a deeper way. Although there is a pervasive strain of pessimism, I'm glad that I read this book. NOTE: added 2/27/2018: Abbey's outrage has become an inspired plea in view of the latest political outrages. Had I read his book today, I would have found his voice less curmudgeonly and more of a rallying cry. There was an excellent essay: "Our Public Land," by Douglas Brinkley that appeared in the January 28, 2018 edition of the New York Times Book Review (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/bo...)

  15. 5 out of 5

    El

    In his early 30s in the late 1950s, Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal ranger at Arches National Monument (now Arches National Park) in east Utah. He lived in a trailer from April-September; his responsibilities included maintaining trails, talking to tourists, and, at least once, had to go on a search party to find a dead body. Remember that anecdote when you're working whatever summer job you have this year and feel like complaining about it. At least you didn't have to go look for and help car In his early 30s in the late 1950s, Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal ranger at Arches National Monument (now Arches National Park) in east Utah. He lived in a trailer from April-September; his responsibilities included maintaining trails, talking to tourists, and, at least once, had to go on a search party to find a dead body. Remember that anecdote when you're working whatever summer job you have this year and feel like complaining about it. At least you didn't have to go look for and help carry back a dead body in 100-degree weather. For many of you, anyway. I probably have one friend on my list here who is all like "But that's what I do everyday!" Years ago when I actually gave a fuck about my partner's family and their friends, his brother's best friend and I got to talking about books. I asked him what his all-time favorite book was, and he told me about this book. I had heard of Abbey's more well-known The Monkey Wrench Gang (which I still haven't read, but at least I had heard of it), but Desert Solitaire was a new title for me at that time. This friend went on and on about how much of an impression it made on him when he read it as a teenager, and how it helped form him as an adult and made him decide to get into whatever education and career he wound up in. Sorry to say, because I give no fucks anymore, I have forgotten what that was. Regardless of whatever personal issues I have with the people in my partner's past, the fact that this particular person was so adamant that I had to read Desert Solitaire really stood out to me. A few years back I picked up a used paperback copy for a buck just because I had once made a promise that I would read the book, even though I knew I would not want to see this person to have a discussion about the book now. Edward Abbey is the sort of person I probably would have liked to know. He was a curmudgeon, I think, based on some of what he wrote in this autobiography about his time working for the park service. He loved his job - I think that's evident in his words. He loved the scenery, he loved the wilderness. He loved the animals and critters, and everything that comes with that wild energy. He didn't even mind the heat which is just bizarre to me, but I also cry anytime the temperature rises above 78 or so. But he hated people. Rather, he hated tourists. Even though he had a job because of the tourists, he hated them. And rightly so. The aspect he saw in his job involved people who didn't want to get out of their cars, who complained because there were no paved roads (the roads are now paved, by the way - something that would make Abbey roll over in his grave, I think), and the sort who throw their trash out their car windows. This is where Abbey and I would probably have gotten along smashingly. I too hate tourists, even when I am one, and we try really hard not to be those kinds of tourists. No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs - anything - but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly. p 65 (Chapter 5: Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks) Most of this autobiography is quite beautiful, almost poetic. Abbey had a way with words when he was writing about something he loved. I most liked the chapters that involved his thoughts on his surroundings, his experiences with wildlife, or just his rambles about thoughts on life, monuments, and people in general. At times he wrote about his environment with such love that I wanted to get in the car and drive out there right now, go sunbathing amongst the rocks. But then I remembered that I go outside to walk to the cafeteria for lunch and I nearly shrivel up because I live like a shrew and hate the sunlight and you can practically hear my skin screaming from the contact of the rays. Where he lost me a bit are the few chapters that were about specific people, and their older stories. They were the sorts of things that if someone wanted to tell me an old-timey story, I'd be down, but in this book they felt somewhat out of place and disrupted the poetic flow. But I'm also fairly certain Abbey gave no fucks about what someone like me would think about his writing, or his choices in material to include. The reason I recommended this book for my book club is because of #45's opinions on the United States Environmental Protection Agency. I live in Pittsburgh, PA, where in the not-so-distant past every day was a "cloudy" day after years and years and years of pollution from the steel mills. There are buildings within walking distance of where I work that are still covered in soot. Pittsburgh knows what can be lost if the EPA goes away. We also have this claim to fame. Top 10! And then don't even get me started on #45's opinions on the National Park Service. In light of these serious issues, this book came to mind as something that seemed timely. Now that I've read it, I still maintain that. Abbey anticipated a lot of the issues that would come with, well, really anything as what he wrote here behind this spoiler link (which I've included only because the excerpt is so large, but it is not an actual spoiler - unless you're worried about our lives being spoiled...): (view spoiler)[ Suppose we were planning to impose a dictatorial regime upon the American people - the following preparations would be essential: 1. Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so that they can be kept under close surveillance and where, in case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste. 2. Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment. 3. Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations. 4. Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals. 5. Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheerful obedience to officially constituted authority. 6. Divert attention from deep conflicts within society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of these wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order. 7. Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns. 8. Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots. Idle speculations, feeble and hopeless protest. It was all foreseen nearly half a century ago by the most cold-eyed and clear-eyed of our national poets, on California's shore, at the end of the open road. Shine, perishing republic. p 164-5 (Chapter 9: The Heat of Noon: Rock and Tree and Cloud) (hide spoiler)] The Arches National Monument of Abbey's day is different today. As previously mentioned, there are roads cutting through the national park, it's quite a bit less "distant" from civilization than it used to be. Abbey would hate it the way it is now. It's still beautiful, don't get me wrong. But it's different from his world, and he would not be happy with how it is, and the level of bureaucracy occurring. I had friends in high school and college who made regular pilgrimages to Moab for rock climbing purposes, and while I never went with them, the mere mention of Moab reminds me of them and their love of it. I don't know if they still go or not, because I've lost track of most of them, but I want that particular world to continue to exist for them and others to love and appreciate. It was there before us, it will be there after us, and in the meantime we should be able to enjoy it without destruction.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    with Edward Abbey. 4|25|2008: The day I finally finished Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey. Usually I read books very quickly and all at once. Most books don't take me longer than a few days to finish. I just love stories so much that I don't like to stop once I've started. Desert Solitaire, however, has taken me years to get through. I've started it half a dozen times, and every time I love it, but when I set it down I don't pick it back up again. Then in a month or tw with Edward Abbey. 4|25|2008: The day I finally finished Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey. Usually I read books very quickly and all at once. Most books don't take me longer than a few days to finish. I just love stories so much that I don't like to stop once I've started. Desert Solitaire, however, has taken me years to get through. I've started it half a dozen times, and every time I love it, but when I set it down I don't pick it back up again. Then in a month or two, I pick it up again starting over again, of course. I've read the first half of the book several times. Finally I realized I don't have to read the first half over again every time I set it down. So although this time there was a substantial gap between my reading the first part and reading the last, I finally read the entire thing. I know that taking forever to get through it doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for the book. However, it is excellent. There is essentially no plot in the book, and so I never felt that compulsive urge to find out how things are going to go. Instead, the book is like sitting down outside your tent at night, with a seasoned outdoorsman, telling anecdotes & talking philosophy. Abbey is an excellent writer, who helped me envision the areas he wrote about. Throughout the book, I felt challenged to think about his philosophy on life, the wilderness, and everything and decide if I agreed or not. I've dog-eared about every third or fourth page, to go back to for quotes & to think about some more. So, I guess, really I'm still not finshed with Desert Solitaire

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Los

    Edward Abbey has a wonderful love of the wild and his prose manages to actually do justice to the unique landscape of the West. That said, I don't like him. He contradicts himself quite often in this book - hatred of modern conveniences (but loves his gas stove and refrigerator), outrage at tourists destroying nature (but he steals protected rocks and throws tires off cliffs), animal sympathizer (but he callously kills a rabbit as an "experiment"), etc. His "Monkey Wrench Gang" also upset me - h Edward Abbey has a wonderful love of the wild and his prose manages to actually do justice to the unique landscape of the West. That said, I don't like him. He contradicts himself quite often in this book - hatred of modern conveniences (but loves his gas stove and refrigerator), outrage at tourists destroying nature (but he steals protected rocks and throws tires off cliffs), animal sympathizer (but he callously kills a rabbit as an "experiment"), etc. His "Monkey Wrench Gang" also upset me - he feels sabotaging road-building equipment is justified because of the value of the wilderness. However, sabotage puts the lives of the workers (who are usually just doing what they have to to put food on the table) at risk, not to mention corporations will simply replace the broken equipment. This hurts the environment even more - you still have machines ripping up the wilderness, but you also have broken machines decaying and leaking toxic fluid into the earth.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    This man is such a hypocrite! He is preaching respect for the wild outdoor spaces, then he has the audacity to relate how he kills a little hidden rabbit just for the fun of it! His philosophy of locking up wild places with no roads, so they are only accessible to the fit hiker is also very exclusionary. Roads are tools, allowing old and young, fit and handicapped, to view the wonders and beauty of this country. Yes teach love and respect of this beauty and of the wildlife, but allow people to p This man is such a hypocrite! He is preaching respect for the wild outdoor spaces, then he has the audacity to relate how he kills a little hidden rabbit just for the fun of it! His philosophy of locking up wild places with no roads, so they are only accessible to the fit hiker is also very exclusionary. Roads are tools, allowing old and young, fit and handicapped, to view the wonders and beauty of this country. Yes teach love and respect of this beauty and of the wildlife, but allow people to personally experience wilderness and through this to develop this respectful attitude!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abeer Hoque

    If I had more courage, "Desert Solitaire" would change my life. If I were to do what I felt, I would give up everything else, go outside and stay there. But because I'm too beholden, too afraid, too old? I am merely and simply renewed in my conviction that there are a million different ways to be, and a billion more ways to see. Edward Abbey's ode (or elegy as he calls it) to the desert, specifically Arches in Moab, the canyonlands of Utah, is like they say (they, in this case, is the New Yorker If I had more courage, "Desert Solitaire" would change my life. If I were to do what I felt, I would give up everything else, go outside and stay there. But because I'm too beholden, too afraid, too old? I am merely and simply renewed in my conviction that there are a million different ways to be, and a billion more ways to see. Edward Abbey's ode (or elegy as he calls it) to the desert, specifically Arches in Moab, the canyonlands of Utah, is like they say (they, in this case, is the New Yorker), an American masterpiece. I didn't find the book rude or angry or rough (like some other reviewers did). Rather it's dead on, perfectly sincere, heartbreakingly beautiful. I visited Moab and Arches years 35 years after he wrote this book, 8 years ago, and true to form, I was one of the hoards of car-bound tourists he prophesied would take over the park. As spectacular as that experience was, after reading this book, I'd give it back so Arches might remain as he saw it in the 50's and 60's. I had only one tiny caveat on page 241 (and throughout that chapter), where he unfavourably compares the ocean and the mountain to the desert. Because his (pretty fucking awe inspiring) education is western bound, he doesn't know about or chooses to dismiss the mountain people in Asia, or the river and sea dwellers of the East, and so their symbiotic lives with nature and the outdoors don't figure in his calculations. Not that he needed to even bring those spaces down to build up his case for the land of sand and sky. Not at all. Every inch of the rest of the 268 pages is pure beauty. Maybe we've destroyed most of what's good and glorious on earth. But we have this book. And maybe when you read it (and you must), you will be braver than I, and will go outside and not come back.

  20. 5 out of 5

    High Plains Library District

    I know, I know. This is Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire. The favored book of the masses and the environmentalists' bible. I feel guilty giving it only 2 stars like I'm treading on holy ground. I purposely read this while recently traveling to Arches National Park, the VERY place he lived/worked while penning these deep thoughts. So I guess I set myself up for some magical, mystical moment to occur - only compounding my disappointments. Granted, he does write some good descriptions about being in I know, I know. This is Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire. The favored book of the masses and the environmentalists' bible. I feel guilty giving it only 2 stars like I'm treading on holy ground. I purposely read this while recently traveling to Arches National Park, the VERY place he lived/worked while penning these deep thoughts. So I guess I set myself up for some magical, mystical moment to occur - only compounding my disappointments. Granted, he does write some good descriptions about being in nature. I'll give him that. Hence the 2 stars. He describes an intimacy with nature that heralds back to Thoreau. (IMHO, however, this is no comparison to Walden.) He first turned me off with his rant on "industrial tourism." He wants the National Parks wild, free from roads, bustling tourism. Okay, I get that. Being a huge fan of national parks I share similar values. I want them pristine, conserved for future generations. But his solutions are quite extreme (1) No more cars - "let the people walk" (2) Therefore, "no more new roads" and (3) "put the park rangers to work". He wants the parks so wild that only the extreme backpackers and extremely fit can appreciate it. He admits this plan excludes children and elderly and physically challenged. He doesn't seem to care. For this he says kids can wait until they are old enough to hike and carry a backpack. The elderly and/or infirm, well, maybe they can use a shuttle. Let me provide a direct quote so you can see the issue I have with his snobby tone, "The aged merit even less sympathy: after all they had the opportunity to see the country when it was still relatively unspoiled. However, we'll stretch a point for those too old or too sickly to mount a bicycle and let them ride the shuttle buses." Um, condescending much? Personally, I really appreciate the friendly trails and roads in our national parks. I am constantly impressed with how "natural" they appear, not obstructing the beauty of nature but rather getting us as close as possible without killing ourselves. I'm not an extreme backpacker. With Abbey's way I'd never experience the rim of the Grand Canyon, the hoodoos of Bryce canyon, or the beauty of Landscape Arch. In other words, I need a little bit of that "industrial tourism." And I must point out that there are still hundreds of miles of "back country" still available for the young, healthy, ambitious hikers. Power to them! This whole chapter was pretentious and unrealistic. He mentions our need to learn -- "how to read a topographical map...saddle a horse...memorize landmarks...avoid lightning" [okay, these I get] but he continues with "survive a blizzard...splint a broken bone...find water under sand...cook a porcupine...bury a body..." [really? I thought we lived in the modern world specifically so we don't have to worry about these things?] I think our park rangers are helpful and well-trained. If I fall into a box canyon I pray one is nearby to help me out. But I think our parks are designed to avoid these mishaps while still allowing intimacy with nature. And then, as I growled about his pretentious, arrogant attitude I came upon this hypocrisy near the end of the book: "...we stopped off briefly to roll an old tire into the Grand Canyon...watching the tire bounce over tall pine trees, tear hell out of a mule train and disappear with the final grand leap into the inner gorge." What?! Excuse me? I had to re-read this to make sure I understood. He never mentions regretting this youthful folly. Who rants about protecting the beautiful lands and then throws a tire into the Grand Canyon?! Yes, I love our national parks. Yes, I appreciate the shuttles that omit the use a gazillion cars. Anything that protects the land while also bringing people and nature together. But no, this book will not become my bible for respecting nature. -Victoria

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Edward Abbey was an outspoken wilderness advocate, and his nonfiction writing falls somewhere between Thoreau and Hunter Thompson. "Desert Solitaire" is classic Abbey, written in the latter 1960s, when he was about 30, and it recounts a handful of summers spent ten years earlier in and around Arches National Monument in southeastern Utah. Here he was a park ranger, when the park was still mostly undeveloped. Living in a small trailer, keeping an eye on the campers and tourists, he mostly relishe Edward Abbey was an outspoken wilderness advocate, and his nonfiction writing falls somewhere between Thoreau and Hunter Thompson. "Desert Solitaire" is classic Abbey, written in the latter 1960s, when he was about 30, and it recounts a handful of summers spent ten years earlier in and around Arches National Monument in southeastern Utah. Here he was a park ranger, when the park was still mostly undeveloped. Living in a small trailer, keeping an eye on the campers and tourists, he mostly relishes the quiet, beauty, and indifference of the desert under its hot sun. The book begins with his arrival in April and concludes with his departure at season's end in September. In between are chapters devoted to descriptions of his rambles across the terrain, helping a local cattleman round up cows in the side canyons, trying to capture a one-eyed feral horse, camping on a 13,000-foot local mountain, hiking with a friend into an uncharted wilderness call the Maze, and retrieving the body of a dead tourist. There's also a dark story concerning the unfortunate fate of some uranium prospectors. The longest chapter is a rapturous account of a week spent rafting down the Colorado River, he and a friend among the last to see the canyons about to be inundated by the Glen Canyon Dam and the creation of Lake Powell. Along the way, there are ruminations on the meaning of it all and diatribes against urbanization, intrusive government, the tourist industry, and the destruction of wilderness. The word "solitaire" in the title is an apt choice, as much of the time Abbey is alone, thinking his thoughts and observing this desert world, its plants and wild life, geological formations, and the big sky with its turns of weather. Even when paired up with a companion, he is often off alone, on a walkabout of his own, like as not shedding his clothes. His thoughts, meanwhile, are informed by wide reading in philosophy, history, natural sciences, and literature. As a writer, he's frequently quotable: "Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless." "It's a great country: you can say whatever you like so long as it is strictly true -- nobody will ever take you seriously." The vistas he describes so eloquently are not hard to picture in the imagination, but I recommend an accompanying volume of photography, such as Eliot Porter's "The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado." Unless you're familiar with borage, paintbrush, globemallow, and dozens of other desert species, a picture guidebook to the flora of the region would also be helpful. I thoroughly enjoyed Abbey's book, shared the excitement of his adventures, found his cranky, ornery, sometimes self-indulgent perspective refreshing, and felt saddened by the end-of-season farewell with which it closes. In any list of nonfiction books about the West, it should be near the top.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    This is one of only four or five books that I can say truly impacted my life. Many years ago my boss saw me reading "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (which did not significantly impress me). He suggested "Desert Solitaire" as a much better example of Edward Abbey's work. I took his recommendation seriously, and have been thankful to him ever since. Having grown up in Idaho I had done a fair amount of backpacking in the mountains and forests, and I was somewhat of an outdoor enthusiast at the time. But th This is one of only four or five books that I can say truly impacted my life. Many years ago my boss saw me reading "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (which did not significantly impress me). He suggested "Desert Solitaire" as a much better example of Edward Abbey's work. I took his recommendation seriously, and have been thankful to him ever since. Having grown up in Idaho I had done a fair amount of backpacking in the mountains and forests, and I was somewhat of an outdoor enthusiast at the time. But the thought of recreating in the desert never held much allure to me--until I read this book. Now I make at least a couple of backpacking/camping trips per year into the desert. I still love the mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests, but I now know that the deserts are also full of wonder. My favorite chapter told about Abbey's trip to Havasu Creek and Falls. While reading about it I remember saying to myself, "There can't possibly really be a place like this". I determined that I would find out if such a place actually existed and if it was as wonderful as Abbey described it. A few years ago I made the trip to Havasu Falls, and I found that the author's description of the place was perfect. But I would have loved to have seen the place in the early sixties, like Abbey did, before the excessive tourism had diminished the place. Not only did this book help me to appreciate the desert for what it is, it taught me to appreciate non-fiction writing in general and nature writing in particular--things I thought I did not care for previously. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an appreciation for the outdoors.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Myridian

    This book is wonderful, amazing, and has absolutely no story line. It's an amorphous, stream-of-consciousness-like series of vignettes into Abbey's mind and world (as seen by that mind) while he was Rangering in Arches National Park in the 60's(?). I've guiltily thought and felt Abbey's rabid misanthropy for many years, and was pleased that he made it sound natural and reasonable. The book also had the amazing affect of making me happy and sad at the same time. I spent many weekends throughout m This book is wonderful, amazing, and has absolutely no story line. It's an amorphous, stream-of-consciousness-like series of vignettes into Abbey's mind and world (as seen by that mind) while he was Rangering in Arches National Park in the 60's(?). I've guiltily thought and felt Abbey's rabid misanthropy for many years, and was pleased that he made it sound natural and reasonable. The book also had the amazing affect of making me happy and sad at the same time. I spent many weekends throughout my childhood in the country he talks about, and it's gone (as I knew it) forever. That poingnant longing (particularly for the smell) of the desert felt almost unbearable at times. It makes me want to go back there more than I can say, before more of it slips away from me. I think that is the most important underlying message of the book. "Don't give up the wild places." Or perhaps it's, "Don't give up on the wild places."

  24. 4 out of 5

    melissa

    This was my first Edward Abbey book. I read it while spending a somewhat lonely and isolatory summer conducting a reasearch project at my undergraduate school. After I read this book, I proceeded to clean out the library's entire collection of Abbey books. Abbey was completely irreverant, arrogant, and self-obsessed at times, and I love him. For anyone who's ever dreamed of escaping real life for a while and living all alone in the desert, this is the book for you. Well, because that's what Abbe This was my first Edward Abbey book. I read it while spending a somewhat lonely and isolatory summer conducting a reasearch project at my undergraduate school. After I read this book, I proceeded to clean out the library's entire collection of Abbey books. Abbey was completely irreverant, arrogant, and self-obsessed at times, and I love him. For anyone who's ever dreamed of escaping real life for a while and living all alone in the desert, this is the book for you. Well, because that's what Abbey did.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David K. Lemons

    I agree with several of the other reviewers: Desert Solitaire is basically an Edward Abbey selfie. Not a bad looking face but it's inside that counts--not all of it bad, but enough of it to be cloying and smacking of hypocrisy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Katz

    Took my sweet time reading this, leaving it in the car so I could read it whenever I was out with time to kill. A magnificent book that should be treasured. Abbey was brilliant, curmudgeonly, arch, impatient with tourists (an interesting aversion given that he was a seasonal park ranger at Utah's Arches National Monument -- before it was the National Park of today -- and thus responsible for answering their questions and explaining what they were looking at), utterly intolerant of paved highways Took my sweet time reading this, leaving it in the car so I could read it whenever I was out with time to kill. A magnificent book that should be treasured. Abbey was brilliant, curmudgeonly, arch, impatient with tourists (an interesting aversion given that he was a seasonal park ranger at Utah's Arches National Monument -- before it was the National Park of today -- and thus responsible for answering their questions and explaining what they were looking at), utterly intolerant of paved highways, cities and automobiles. The kind of person who would float naked in some secluded pool hidden by high canyon walls, and smoke "wonderful cheap cigars" as the day faded into evening; who was astonishingly familiar with the name and character of every plant, flower, bird, insect, reptile, and carnivore he encountered, yet who would be as likely to quote Horace, Virgil, Shakespeare, or Thoreau as he would be to rail against the technology that fouled the skies and threatened all life with massive mushroom clouds. Probably great company, handy with hands and wit, a wondrous storyteller, and a royal pain in the ass. Oh, but he could write. My copy of the book has too many folded down page corners to count, each marking some miraculous description or turn of phrase, a moment of exquisite tenderness or insight. Of a brief rest he takes one midday in the shade of a dessicate tree, he writes: "My lone juniper stands half-alive, half-dead, the silvery wind-rubbed claw of wood projected stiffly at the sun. A single cloud floats in the sky to the northeast, motionless, a magical coalescence of vapor where a few minutes before there was nothing visible but the hot, deep, black-grained blueness of infinity." The starkness of the desert brings out in him both an expansive appreciation for the natural sworld even at its most harsh, and a sardonic ambivalence about the impermanence of life and the folly of human aspiration. One day he discovers a corpse beneath a scrubby tree and finds himself envying the dead man: "To die alone, on rock under sun at the brink of the unknown, like a wolf, like a great bird, seems to me very good fortune indeed. To die in the open, under the sky, far from the insolent interference of leech and priest, before this desert vastness opening like a window onto eternity – that surely was an overwhelming stroke of rare good luck." And elsewhere: "See those big black scrawny wings far above, waiting? Comfort yourself with the reflection that within hours, if all goes as planned, your human flesh will be working its way through the gizzard of a buzzard, your essence transfigured into the fierce greedy eyes and unimaginable consciousness of a turkey vulture. Whereupon you, too, will soar on motionless wings high over the ruck and rack of human suffering. For most of us a promotion in grade, for some the realization of an ideal." I do him no justice in sharing these excerpts. Get the book. Let yourself spends hours and days with Abbey. He'll irritate you, entertain you, make you laugh, cringe, and shake your head sometimes up and down in agreement, and at others in stern disapproval. Through it all, he will show you a world you didn't know existed. And, though profoundly altered and endangered, still exists.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christine Boyer

    I was going to say that readers will either love this or hate it - but that's not true. It's not black or white, and Abbey is not black or white - lots of shades of gray here. Here are some things I CAN say for certain. Abbey is a talented and clever writer. A friend turned me on to his fiction, and to this day, "Fool's Progress" is one of my all-time favorite books. He can write a sentence and play with words like nobody's business. I often re-read lines because they were that good. Abbey is also I was going to say that readers will either love this or hate it - but that's not true. It's not black or white, and Abbey is not black or white - lots of shades of gray here. Here are some things I CAN say for certain. Abbey is a talented and clever writer. A friend turned me on to his fiction, and to this day, "Fool's Progress" is one of my all-time favorite books. He can write a sentence and play with words like nobody's business. I often re-read lines because they were that good. Abbey is also a true philosopher. And when I was trying to think how I would describe this book, I went from "travel journal" to "manifesto" to "memoir" to "reflections on nature" and none really fit. So the best I can describe it was a "philosopher's musings". But Abbey can also tell a hell of a good yarn, and the chapters fluctuated between his philosophy on the environment, humanity, etc. and then just stories of his days in the desert. I preferred his personal thoughts chapters - only because some of his desert descriptions, though beautiful, went on for too long and were a bit too detailed about every turn and every rock on his hikes. I love the desert and I've been fortunate to experience wilderness in the ways Abbey describes. Interesting that his concerns about the future of our wild spaces were documented here in 1968. I kept wondering what he would think if he were alive today?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Rainwater

    Desert Solitaire is a classic of citizen naturalist writing. Despite being over 50 years old, the writing is so modern in style that it could have been written yesterday. Abbey's connection to the desert is real and alive and vivid. I was less persuaded Abbey's anarchist-libertarian political views, which often just seemed irrational. Though Abbey wants to protect the wilderness in its natural unimproved state, he hates the only entity capable of doing the protecting. He wants the park to exist, Desert Solitaire is a classic of citizen naturalist writing. Despite being over 50 years old, the writing is so modern in style that it could have been written yesterday. Abbey's connection to the desert is real and alive and vivid. I was less persuaded Abbey's anarchist-libertarian political views, which often just seemed irrational. Though Abbey wants to protect the wilderness in its natural unimproved state, he hates the only entity capable of doing the protecting. He wants the park to exist, but doesn't want anyone to use it; wants complete freedom for himself, while decrying everyone else using their own freedom in a different way. There are numerous examples, but one stands out. Abbey goes on at length regarding his dislike of roads in the national parks. At the same time, he takes at least two trips by truck up mountains and down canyons on roads, trips that he could not have taken by simply hiking. In the case of the trip to The Maze the unavailability of water made a hike impossible. In the end, while I disagreed with Abbey's political views and thought his logic lacking in some places, I still enjoyed the book enormously and recommend it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Some people are armchair historians. I'm starting to think I’m an armchair outdoorswoman (it being two years since I've been on a proper backpacking trip). At first I found myself envying Abbey. Not just his chapter-long adventures, but his human need to be "out there" - way out there. He describes the eroded country, flash floods, runaway horses, footprints, quicksand, and the panic that comes when you are miles down a canyon with a dry canteen. It's not just a memoir, but instructional and pol Some people are armchair historians. I'm starting to think I’m an armchair outdoorswoman (it being two years since I've been on a proper backpacking trip). At first I found myself envying Abbey. Not just his chapter-long adventures, but his human need to be "out there" - way out there. He describes the eroded country, flash floods, runaway horses, footprints, quicksand, and the panic that comes when you are miles down a canyon with a dry canteen. It's not just a memoir, but instructional and political. Abbey’s courage and virgin expeditions may come off as a bit cocky at times, but his admitted fumbling and poor planning keep these things in check. His contact with people is minimal throughout, as you might expect, and is limited to taciturn boatmen and cowboys (I wondered until the end whether he even liked women, then a tender mention appears). All in all, I found it an engaging read that I could pick up and put down like a collection of short stories. I would recommend it to anyone interested in travel literature, nature writing, American tourism, or personal accounts that verge on poetry.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Edward Abbey kept appearing as a recommendation to me in the form of several of his books and I finally picked one for my 50th birthday reading celebration project and I am glad I did. Desert Solitaire is about Abbey's time working at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah. I have visited Arches several times as well as the other National Parks and Monuments in Utah including Zion, Bryce, Bridges, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Glen Canyon, all of which Abbey refers to here. I am in love wit Edward Abbey kept appearing as a recommendation to me in the form of several of his books and I finally picked one for my 50th birthday reading celebration project and I am glad I did. Desert Solitaire is about Abbey's time working at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah. I have visited Arches several times as well as the other National Parks and Monuments in Utah including Zion, Bryce, Bridges, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Glen Canyon, all of which Abbey refers to here. I am in love with Utah. A few years ago I began taking a week by myself and mapped out my drive and found campgrounds and hiking trails to explore. It is my favorite week of the year. I love the solitude and beauty. Abbey's Desert Solitaire is my single week expanded into a year. He explores the beauty, solitude (sometimes loneliness), animals, sunsets, growth (he is disgusted by), weather, etc. My favorite parts were his beautiful descriptions of the landscape and his rants when experiencing stupid tourists as well as his rants against development and road construction around these beautiful parks. I picked this as my 1985 book but found out later that it was actually published in 1968 when I was one year old. The book makes more sense when I figured this out. I'm still keeping it as my entry for 1985, the year I graduated from high school, Bishop Miege, in Mission Kansas. If you haven't visited Utah or any of these parks, please add it to your list of places to go and you will be awed by its beauty. If you desire to go alone and are hesitant, please consider trying it even if for one day or two. I simply love it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions



Loading...