These eloquent meditations, philosophical musings, and whimsical doodles offer us the clearest window into the soul of this American literary legend. Few have cared more about American wilderness than the irascible Cactus Ed. Author of eco-classics such as The Monkey Wrench Gang and Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey reveals all his rough-hewn edges and passionate beliefs in this witty, outspoken, maddening, and sometimes brilliant selection of journal entries that takes the writer from his early years as a park ranger and would-be literary author up to his death in 1989. Everything is here: the acute wit, the searing cynicism, and the lyrical, effortless prose. This new edition features an interview with his friend and editor David Petersen in which Abbey speaks candidly about his own work, his approach to writing, and technique. Original sketches made by Abbey himself and a detailed index are also included.
When Edward Abbey died in 1989 at the age of sixty-two, the American West lost one of its most eloquent and passionate advocates. Through his novels, essays, letters and speeches, Edward Abbey consistently voiced the belief that the West was in danger of being developed to death, and that the only solution lay in the preservation of wilderness. Abbey authored twenty-one books in his lifetime, including Desert Solitaire, The Monkey Wrench Gang, The Brave Cowboy, and The Fool's Progress. His comic novel The Monkey Wrench Gang helped inspire a whole generation of environmental activism.
David Petersen has been a Marine Corps helicopter pilot, a college writing instructor, magazine editor and author of a dozen nonfiction books. Starting in 1980, David and his (late) wife Carolyn made their home in the rural San Juan Mountains near Durango, where they hand-built the cabin David still lives in today. An internationally acclaimed hunting ethicist and conservationist, David is the recipient of numerous awards.
"Beatnik turned major American essayist, ecologist in advance of the modern ecological movement, anarchist 'in favor of settling the African problem by violent revolution, if at all possible, ' and self-proclaimed Communist, Abbey is both compelling and infuriating, more so in his essays than the fiction he considered his serious work. His journals show that he didn't so much find a voice as mature the one he always had [...] A must for every library with serious holdings in the literature of the Southwest."
"Ending with an entry written 12 days before his 1989 death at age 60, the diaries of the late environmentalist and novelist are adolescent in spirit, with all the virtues and vices that word implies [...] Though he traveled over the world, he finds his spiritual home in the American Southwest, and some of his most moving writing here pays lush homage to the austere landscape or lashes out at those poised to destroy it."
– Publishers Weekly
"His greatest creative act was his own life, and because of that, these journals may well be his greatest book."
– New York Times
"Notorious writer Abbey kept a journal from the age of 19 until a few days before his death in 1989. Selected and edited by friend and environmental writer Petersen, the entries included here give valuable insight into an incredibly complex man. Beginning in Europe and skipping around the desert Southwest, the journals follow the enigmatic, opinionated Abbey as he creates many enemies and legion of fans over the course of a lifetime. Credited with originating the concept of eco-terrorism in defense of his beloved Western wilderness, Abbey emerges as a misunderstood loner who needed a delicate balance of companionship and freedom to exist. Highlights include candid thoughts on his peers, ongoing feuds with reviewers, and original drawings by Abbey himself. Petersen adds helpful insights and bracketed comments. Essential for all nature, regional, and literary biography collections."
– Library Journal