I grew up reading Abbey. At one time all of his novels resided on my bookshelf at our house in Maine.
“If most Americans eventually decide that they want to ... surround our national parks with an industrial slum of strip mines, power plants, trailerhouse cities ... there’s not much that people like me can do about it except complain,” he wrote to an interviewer. And complain Abbey did, as these letters amply demonstrate. Yet it was in his books — most notably “Desert Solitaire,” “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” “The Journey Home” and “The Fool’s Progress” (a bawdy grievance lodged against life itself) — that Abbey took the complaint and transformed it into an art form, distilling beauty from bile. “I know the earth,” Pablo Neruda once wrote, “and I am sad.” That wasn’t enough for Abbey. I know the earth, he roared, and I am mad. Yeah
, I'm mad too.