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.
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.
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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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Krystal, August 20, 2006 (view all comments by Krystal)
Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey's description his of time as a park ranger at Arches National Park. His time there, spent mostly in solitude, allowed him to ponder many issues pertaining to America's National Parks. He does not understand why his fellow American's do not feel the same way he does about America's untouched wilderness. I believe that many of his ideas about National Parks that were true when this book was written, will remain true for many years to come.
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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.
by Amy W.
by The New York Times Book 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'."
by Peter Carlson,
"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."
by The New York Times Book 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."
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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