I loved this book. David Roberts (friend of Jon Krakauer's) delves far into archaeology and his own personal Anasazi explorations. Very interesting an...moreI loved this book. David Roberts (friend of Jon Krakauer's) delves far into archaeology and his own personal Anasazi explorations. Very interesting and entertaining. He's a seasoned writer and a legit Anasazi enthusiast.(less)
Classic Abbey. He finds new and amazing ways to describe sunrise, sunset, night sky, desert, canyon, river, et cetera, over and over. The man is amazi...moreClassic Abbey. He finds new and amazing ways to describe sunrise, sunset, night sky, desert, canyon, river, et cetera, over and over. The man is amazing. His descriptions haunt me and stay with me. He's also a genius--he knows intricate details of war, guns and ammunition, health and medicine, climbing, whitewater rafting, 4WD vehicles, botany, zoology, very specific names of remote ridges, cliffs and canyons, all of the sciences. He's a master of all trades.
I like that he pushes boundaries. He switches tense all the time, runs around with free indirect discourse, stream-of-consciousness, jumping into and out of characters. He is self-referential at times, makes exploratory use of language, with many puns and plays on words, alliteration, combines new words into compound words and portmanteaus. His use of language reminds me sometimes of Cormac McCarthy (a huge compliment to Abbey, perhaps a blow to McCarthy), and even James Joyce. Maybe I'm off my rocker, but I see it in him.
The man does have some rascist and misogynist tendencies. Bonnie Abbzug is very stereotypical in terms of feminine beauty and desires (the little love-jumper). Would she really have fallen in love with Hayduke, the same Hayduke about whom I'm reading? Also, he belittles the Indians constantly, especially through Doc Sarvis. Calls them names, insults their lifestyle. All this beautiful, wondrous talk about the southwest and canyonlands country, and only *once* in the entire book does he mention an Anasazi ruin. No petroglyphs or pictographs or anything above and beyond that one brief mention. I don't know why he loved the desert so much, but found so little to love in the Indians, the desert's original keepers.
Also, I think that Abbey wrote himself into Hayduke. Now personally, I'd much rather be Seldom Seen Smith than Hayduke. Hayduke is impulsive, illogical, destructive, and rude. Smith knows the wilderness inside and out, including scientific names and locations and uses and has experiences with all the types of terrain the southwest offers. He thinks and analyzes and is logical. The opposite of Hayduke in many ways. I guess perhaps Hayduke + Smith = Abbey. That would make more sense, that he show two somehow complementary but very differing sides of his own character. Hayduke does have some qualities that are worthy, and he can be a sympathetic character at times, but as the primary protagonist I question him sometimes . . .
In fact, that's part of the appeal of this book. I question the actions and motives of the protagonists. I am very much an environmentalist, a conservationist with an *enormous* love and passion for the southwest, southern Utah in particular. But ecoterrorism isn't, and probably will never be (?), my thing. Maybe partially. But sometimes--I'll be honest--I'm rooting for Bishop Love and his Search and Rescue Team. They'd be heroes if they found the Monkey Wrench Gang! They'd pull those criminals right out from their vandalistic shoes. You know--not really. But it makes the novel fun to have the heroes be in reversed roles. Usually you root for the law enforcement to catch the criminals.
I think this would make an excellent screenplay. It has humor, seriousness, romance and a love triangle, beautiful scenery, plenty of action and swearing and tension and suspense and so on. Good job my friend and mentor Edward. Good job.(less)
I like David Roberts. I really do. I read his In Search of the Old Ones and I enjoyed it immensely. This is another great read. Has some culture, hist...moreI like David Roberts. I really do. I read his In Search of the Old Ones and I enjoyed it immensely. This is another great read. Has some culture, history, adventure writing, memoir, etc.--a lot of many things.
Roberts has a great vocabulary and makes it known. He is also an excellent and thorough researcher. His knowledge of the history of southwest archaeology and of the area is well-researched and vast. My biggest complaint against him is that at times he comes off as sanctimonious and deserving. He occasionally derides others and belittles their convictions and awe, as if his own were more powerful or inspirational. It seems that he thinks his personal missions or more worth and meaning than those who do it differently. However, I do agree with *much* of his backcountry ethics (whether they be inherited or his own), including the "outdoor museum" and other ruins-visiting techniques.
Roberts seems to be a good guy. I respect him and what he does. He's aging yet still finds time to do that which he enjoys, and essentially follows his dreams. Funny that he lives in Massachusetts . . .(less)
Terry Tempest Williams, quite bluntly, is a heroine of mine. I loved Refuge, and--being a Utah desert-lover myself--loved this book just as much. Her...moreTerry Tempest Williams, quite bluntly, is a heroine of mine. I loved Refuge, and--being a Utah desert-lover myself--loved this book just as much. Her passion is palpable, and her arguments in favor of conservation and wilderness are eloquent and beautiful, if not irrefutable (in my opinion).(less)
I really enjoyed every word of Austin's. It's a short book, and I was slow-moving to get through it. But I don't regret that. I feel like part of her...moreI really enjoyed every word of Austin's. It's a short book, and I was slow-moving to get through it. But I don't regret that. I feel like part of her eyeopening awareness of the natural world speaks to being slow-moving. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm a desert tortoise.(less)
"violent and doomed as this world might be, a romance it certainly is" (43)
Enger is back with story galore and character-crafting mayhem. He weaves a...more"violent and doomed as this world might be, a romance it certainly is" (43)
Enger is back with story galore and character-crafting mayhem. He weaves a tale of chase and friendship and story that is at times so inconceivable that it works. (Most of the time. Almost.) There are twists and turns all over the place, most related to historical locations and characters, and it can sometimes be easy to lose purpose, or how they ended up there to begin with. But he has a firm grip of character, and backstory and relationship and dialogue. There are major characters here: Beckett, Glendon, and Siringo, and each has a distinct set of actions, moods, and voice. Enger is quite good at his craft. His descriptions are beautiful, evoking of mood and place, and he really does know how to fashion a story.
My only complaint is that it seems obvious that he struggled to find this story. He *is* the Monte Beckett, the fledgling author that penned a hit and then sank back and tried again and again to find his voice. To find and channel his inner story. Enger has some stories that resurface in the same form--for example, the tale of Hood Roberts, who is a young teenage boy with good intent who accidentally ends up on the wrong side of the law and runs. (Sound familiar? Peace Like a River anyone?) And in Beckett's descriptions of his other books he never finished, one is another exact duplicate of this tale. Enger has some standby tales that feed into his subconscious, apparently. Another complaint: Monte Beckett's disdain for himself and his writing don't make him completely likeable--a bit of a pushover. And his leaving his wife and son for reckless abandon is hard to swallow, especially considering his wife's utter lack of concern for it.
These complaints are minor. The pacing was good, and I really enjoyed the era and the way Enger tells his stories. His next book will be a better read if he can more quickly and directly find his muse.
"who doesn't dread what God might be up to in our pivotal moments?" (109)
"Most men are hero and devil. All men." (190)
"You are no failure, on a river. The water moves regardless--for all it cares, you might be a minnow or a tadpole, a turtle on a beavered log. You might be nothing at all." (16)(less)
Disclaimer: I am fueled by a love for Edward Abbey's words.
Much of Abbey's Road is related to travel, his time spent in places--other places, temporar...moreDisclaimer: I am fueled by a love for Edward Abbey's words.
Much of Abbey's Road is related to travel, his time spent in places--other places, temporary home, road trips and river trips. The people come and go--bit players--but central to each vignette is always Mr. Abbey himself. His time spent in Australia is quite fascinating, there's much of Mexico, and rivers and travel. He waxes both political and poetical, with pointed arguments in both directions.
Truly, he writes on a variety of topics--often tied nicely with his anarchy and activism, conservation environmentalism. He's scruffy and irreverent, and usually naked. He is a druid in a worn-out ranger uniform, a bearded bard of the desert, a staunch defender of not only the wild but the necessary IDEAL of the wild.
These essays are both diverse and linked. Funny and touching and pseudo-philosophizing. Nothing off-limits to Mr. Abbey. Read him and be made whole.(less)
Poetic, engaging, and sorrowful. The story of Abel and his Jemez Pueblo, traditional life on the land, the reservation, conflicting with a modern life...morePoetic, engaging, and sorrowful. The story of Abel and his Jemez Pueblo, traditional life on the land, the reservation, conflicting with a modern life, a war, violence sex lust. Momaday defies convention, frequently interjecting flashbacks and -forwards, changing voice, verging on the boundaries of poetry vs. prose. It's new and captivating, what he does. He paints a picture of another life, lost in only a generation, and the slow, uncertain regaining--or simple recognition--of it.(less)
Gretel Ehrlich has resounding prose and acclaim for Wyoming. The Solace of Open Spaces reads like a collection of essays, with a storyline woven throu...moreGretel Ehrlich has resounding prose and acclaim for Wyoming. The Solace of Open Spaces reads like a collection of essays, with a storyline woven through it, both seasonal as Wyoming's seasons come, and seasonal as emotions and change affect life and death.
She introduces us to many characters, often with quotes and examples and often revisiting them to flesh out the language and character of her small town. Her eloquence makes even the difficulties and death beautiful, and she beautifully describes and makes sense of manliness, the westerner, rodeos, man and his relationship with animals, marriage, death, solitude, open space, ranch life. A beautiful read that will want you want more of Wyoming--or at least to get there to begin with.
"True solace is finding none, which is to say, it is everywhere." (41)
"I know what the world is made of, and I still love all of it." (45)
"Everything in nature invites us to constantly be what we are." (84)
"Some kinds of impermanence take a long time." (90)(less)
I picked this up on a whim, by reading some random recommendation based on similar road books. Its title is misleading, sounding like a guidebook. Don...moreI picked this up on a whim, by reading some random recommendation based on similar road books. Its title is misleading, sounding like a guidebook. Don't be fooled. This is a semiautobiographical novel, based in the southwest, centered around young Mark Sundeen, a painter who is aimless and usually up for heading to wherever his beatup Subaru can take him so long as it's free and there's a road. Sundeen builds up many characters, most notably Beach Philips and September, and you'll laugh at his cynicism, his take on open spaces, the desert as "nowhere," and the kind of trouble people find themselves in.
Read this. Especially if you're familiar with Utah (Moab particularly) and the southwest. It's a quick read with some downright philosophical elements and the right balance of questioning and happiness.
This book and author could use some more attention! (I'm definitely going to pick up The Making of Toro, another of Sundeen's.)
"I wanted ... life to rush through me as fast as it arrived, not caught up on thoughts or thinking." (13)
"You only get a certain amount of space in this life, ... and most people just fill it up with fancy junk and clever ideas" (23)
"Everyone thinks they want to be free. ... But they don't know what freedom is, and if they had it, they'd be terrified. They just want everyone else to think they're free." (41)
"I wanted to get back to the desert. Then it would all be all right." (150)
"You can never be nowhere. No matter how hard you try. Not even in the middle of the desert. The further you get from one place the closer you are to someplace else, and when you try to drop out of the world altogether you'll find that wherever you land is still a part of it. There will be people there who make things just as complicated as the things you were trying to get away from." (205)(less)
There are slivers of the truth in Ondaatje's Billy the Kid, all the surrounding players and characters. The settings, the New Mexican snows and sands....moreThere are slivers of the truth in Ondaatje's Billy the Kid, all the surrounding players and characters. The settings, the New Mexican snows and sands. The poetry of it all, at least now, in our modern world, looking back and reflecting on what it was, or what it wasn't.
Essentially this is historical fiction as poetry. Even the prose is poetry. He can't help it. It flows naturally and gives a voice, a sorrow, a reality to the antihero Billy the Kid.
I love the many vignettes, the intertwined poetic ruminations by Billy, then the story told a little more clearly, via multiple perspective and experimental forms (photographs, notes, newspaper articles, interviews, other characters' voices, chiasma, etc.). The backstories of Tom O'Folliard and Livingstone the mad-dog man are some of my favorites. Ondaatje paints Pat Garrett as cold and logical, driven, the perfect assassin.
Billy is romantic:
--- --- she is crossing the sun sits on her legs here sweeping off the peels
traces the thin bones of me turns toppling slow back to the pillow Bonney Bonney (21) --- ---
And he is characterized with a shrewd, watchful eye. Ever observant and capable. Not quite man, but not boy (just Kid, maybe):
--- --- A river you could get lost in and the sun a flashy hawk on the edge of it
a mile away you see the white path of an animal moving through water
you can turn a hundred yard circle and the horse bends dribbles his face you step off and lie in it propping your head
till dusk and cold and the horse shift you and you look up and moon a frozen bird's eye
(26 -- this is one of my favorites) --- ---
Brilliant book. Fantastic read. It evokes past memories--we explored through Lincoln County and Billy the Kid historical grounds in October 2010. It also evokes memories of the past--many not even mine. Shared west memories of novel indoor baths with warm water, ferrotype photographs, dimestore novels, drafty barns, slow distances over sunburnt land on horseback, the red dirt still, STILL!, and friends who band together. And avenge each other. Highly recommended.(less)