I know. Another reread. I found this copy in a small, community library. You know, those tiny mailbox looking things found in the most unlikely of places? Yep, one of those. Inside was a note, written in fine, black ink. From Andres to Whitney, suggesting Whitney not let Abbey make her too “crotchety” but instead to use Abbey to keep her spirit wild. Good advice.
I’ve read this book many times and will read it again I am sure, but it will be a good gap between my next reading because I was able to retell each chapter tale to myself even before turning those pages. There are several takeaways from this book even though Abbey penned this baby back in the 1960s.
The places he describes are gone. There are too many humans on the planet. Automobiles and natural spaces do not mix well. The Park Service has an upside and a downside, just like the rest of our government agencies. And once the wild spaces are gone, so is a part of us.
Edward Abbey, and his Desert Solitaire, are stem winders. The antithesis of modern vanlifers, Instagrammers, oil and gas tycoons and anyone else banking on the exploitation of the wilds. My guess is there would be a lot more roadside tombstones if these evil platforms were around back in Abbey’s day. (Oil and gas was doing their nasty work back then, for sure.)
And don’t forget, this book is well written, references many things outside of what the title describes. This is a book to own. But be prepared for pain. His description of places like Glen Canyon, before the dam, and Havasu before the onslaught of tourism, is hard to believe in their beauty and remoteness.