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Desert Solitaire

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Desert Solitaire Cover

ISBN13: 9780671695880
ISBN10: 0671695886
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

This memoir by Edward Abbey recounts his years as a park ranger working at Arches National Park in Utah. Abbey's keen eye and sharp writing clearly impart the beauty of the desert and the importance of preserving our limited natural resources. His reflections and rants on American environmentalism, the auto and mining industries, and the impact they have on our national park system ring just as true today as when the book was published in 1968.
Recommended by Amy W., Powells.com

No author encapsulated and celebrated the American Southwest more engagingly than iconoclast and raconteur Edward Abbey. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness — now nearly a half-century old — is a classic of environmental writing. In this autobiographical work, Abbey chronicles his time as a park ranger and reflects on landscape, culture, politics, tourism, environmental disregard, and degradation — doing so with a unique blend of ornery charm and breathtaking description. Though set in his beloved Southwest, Desert Solitaire beautifully and brashly captures the essence of the American outdoors, replete with disdain for those who'd seek to spoil its natural wonder.
Recommended by Jeremy, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

Publisher Comments:

Hailed by The New York Times as "a passionately felt, deeply poetic book," the moving autobiographical work of Edward Abbey, considered the Thoreau of the American West, and his passion for the southwestern wilderness.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself by park ranger and conservationist, Edward Abbey. The book details the unique adventures and conflicts the author faces, from dealing with the damage caused by development of the land or excessive tourism, to discovering a dead body. However Desert Solitaire is not just a collection of one man's stories, the book is also a philosophical memoir, full of Abbey's reflections on the desert as a paradox, at once beautiful and liberating, but also isolating and cruel. Often compared to Thoreau's Walden, Desert Solitaire is a powerful discussion of life's mysteries set against the stirring backdrop of the American southwestern wilderness.

Review:

"[Desert Solitaire] is the outgrowth of a bitter awareness of all that has been lost, all that is being lost, all that is going to be lost in that glory of our American democracy, our system of national parks. Designed to set aside, for all the people, wild areas of special beauty, this system originated with a twofold purpose: to serve the public and to preserve the areas. These two goals are now in head-on collision. For 'to serve the public' has come to mean 'to serve the public in automobiles'." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"What entertains many and exasperates others is Abbey's unique prose voice. Alternately misanthropic and sentimental, enraged and hilarious, it is the voice of a full-blooded man airing his passions." Peter Carlson

Review:

"Like a ride on a bucking bronco...rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book...set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty." The New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form — the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry.

Abbey's observations and challenges remain as relevant now as the day he wrote them. Today, Desert Solitaire asks if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.

About the Author

Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania, in 1927. He was educated at the University of New Mexico and the University of Edinburgh. He died at his home in Oracle, Arizona, in 1989.

Table of Contents

Author's Introduction

The First Morning

Solitaire

The Serpents of Paradise

Cliffrose and Bayonets

Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks

Rocks

Cowboys and Indians

Cowboys and Indians Part II

Water

The Heat of Noon: Rock and Tree and Cloud

The Moon-Eyod Horse

Down the River

Havasu

The Dead Man at Grandview Point

Tukuhnikivats, the Island in the Desert

Episodes and Visions

Terra Incognita: Into the Maze

Bedrock and Paradox

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Ben Thomas, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Ben Thomas)
This book, infused with just the right amount of humor, politics, and truth, is a wonderful commentary on the American West. The deserts, rivers, canyons, and rock formations Ed Abbey describes during his summers as a ranger at Arches National Park make you terribly desirous to drop what you're doing and drive all through the night to go see the Utah's rocky menagerie up close and personal. Having spent all summer gallivanting about the West, this book was a fantastic way to reminisce and put the beauty of the West into perspective. We have to protect it because if we don't, there will be no place to escape when the cities become too much, as Abbey says. A must read for anyone interested in a rugged, bearded man's thoughts on canyons, Caterpillar, and chunky bean soup.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Ecocrit, February 10, 2010 (view all comments by Ecocrit)
This is perhaps one of the most important books for the postmodern literary era. While it may not appeal to a television oriented audience which demands constant bombardment with loud noises and commercials it is essential to gaining an understanding of the problematic relationship that modern society shares with nature. These views were embedded during the romantic period and before and foster an unhealthy commodifed view of nature as a place to "find yourself". Abbey struggles to rise above his western ensnarement and sing in a voice all his own. To the reader who did not like Abbey's uncommon style employed in this narrative, I advise "The Monkey Wrench Gang". It is a more plot-driven exploration of the same topics seen in this book. Or you could just sit on a couch and eat Cheetos while watching television until you die of a heart attack.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
botoxymoron, January 10, 2010 (view all comments by botoxymoron)
I'll be honest, this book annoyed the hell outta me. I'm just not the type of person to like a book that is all about the scenery of a place. I like plots, conflicts, not 'blah blah blah using a flashlight separates you from nature'. That annoyed me too. Why can't someone have nature AND technology? No, stories ALWAYS have to be about how we separates ourselves and crap. Makes me sick. It might just because I'm not nostalgic for times where there was barely any technology, because I was born around technology. I don't believe it separates you from nature though. Not at all. Especially since the guy is going on about a flashlight. Fine, we shall do as this guy says, and walk around at night without a flashlight. Lets see how many people die/get injured from falling and breaking their necks, to 'be close to nature'. I didn't like it, but I guess people get distracted by pretty words very easily.
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(5 of 26 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780671695880
Subtitle:
A Season in the Wilderness
Author:
Abbey, Edward
Illustrator:
Parnall, Peter
Publisher:
Touchstone Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Biology
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Novelists, American
Subject:
Environmentalists
Subject:
Arches national park (utah)
Subject:
Abbey, edward, 1927-1989
Subject:
Desert biology
Subject:
Park rangers.
Subject:
Arches National Park
Subject:
General Nature
Subject:
Novelists, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Abbey, Edward
Subject:
Nature Studies-General
Subject:
Biology-Reference
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Touchstone ed.
Edition Description:
B102
Series Volume:
no. 68-0204430
Publication Date:
January 1990
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 8.96 oz

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Related Subjects


Biography » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

Desert Solitaire Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Touchstone Books - English 9780671695880 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This memoir by Edward Abbey recounts his years as a park ranger working at Arches National Park in Utah. Abbey's keen eye and sharp writing clearly impart the beauty of the desert and the importance of preserving our limited natural resources. His reflections and rants on American environmentalism, the auto and mining industries, and the impact they have on our national park system ring just as true today as when the book was published in 1968.

"Staff Pick" by ,

No author encapsulated and celebrated the American Southwest more engagingly than iconoclast and raconteur Edward Abbey. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness — now nearly a half-century old — is a classic of environmental writing. In this autobiographical work, Abbey chronicles his time as a park ranger and reflects on landscape, culture, politics, tourism, environmental disregard, and degradation — doing so with a unique blend of ornery charm and breathtaking description. Though set in his beloved Southwest, Desert Solitaire beautifully and brashly captures the essence of the American outdoors, replete with disdain for those who'd seek to spoil its natural wonder.

"Review" by , "[Desert Solitaire] is the outgrowth of a bitter awareness of all that has been lost, all that is being lost, all that is going to be lost in that glory of our American democracy, our system of national parks. Designed to set aside, for all the people, wild areas of special beauty, this system originated with a twofold purpose: to serve the public and to preserve the areas. These two goals are now in head-on collision. For 'to serve the public' has come to mean 'to serve the public in automobiles'."
"Review" by , "What entertains many and exasperates others is Abbey's unique prose voice. Alternately misanthropic and sentimental, enraged and hilarious, it is the voice of a full-blooded man airing his passions."
"Review" by , "Like a ride on a bucking bronco...rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book...set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty."
"Synopsis" by , When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form — the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry.

Abbey's observations and challenges remain as relevant now as the day he wrote them. Today, Desert Solitaire asks if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.

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