Jessica's Reviews > Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
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's review
Mar 11, 2008

really liked it
Read in February, 2008

Some people are armchair historians. I'm starting to think I’m an armchair outdoorswoman (it being two years since I've been on a proper backpacking trip). At first I found myself envying Abbey. Not just his chapter-long adventures, but his human need to be "out there" - way out there. He describes the eroded country, flash floods, runaway horses, footprints, quicksand, and the panic that comes when you are miles down a canyon with a dry canteen. It's not just a memoir, but instructional and political. Abbey’s courage and virgin expeditions may come off as a bit cocky at times, but his admitted fumbling and poor planning keep these things in check. His contact with people is minimal throughout, as you might expect, and is limited to taciturn boatmen and cowboys (I wondered until the end whether he even liked women, then a tender mention appears). All in all, I found it an engaging read that I could pick up and put down like a collection of short stories. I would recommend it to anyone interested in travel literature, nature writing, American tourism, or personal accounts that verge on poetry.
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