Lucy's Reviews > The Fool's Progress

The Fool's Progress by Edward Abbey
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Dec 04, 2007

did not like it
Recommended for: personal fans of Edward Abbey
Read in November, 2007


Apparently, Edward Abbey is an environmentalist whose books have been known to inspire radicals but also open up frank discussions about the treatment and protection of the western landscape. All right. That's one point of view. I can respect that.

But, this was not the book to start with. I don't know if he's a great author or not, but, supposedly, this book is autobiographical and I can tell you, if it is (he's dead...so it's all speculative anyway) that I don't like him. Completely self-indulgent and apparently moral-less, I'm not interested in his addictions or inability to commit or his lassez-faire attitude when it comes to love, work and person hygiene.

The writing is, I admit, good, but I'm a story girl...and the story is....bad.

You'd think he'd endear himself a little by calling himself a fool. By being so blatantly honest. But it only shows off his self-indulgence and egocentric perspective.

A Fool's Meandering is more like it. I witnessed no progress here.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Rick Lucy doesn't get it.


message 2: by Lucy (new) - rated it 1 star

Lucy You know, Rick, after reading the other reviews I'm going to have to agree with you. It doesn't seem like I read the same book as the rest of you! But, I do remember it well enough to know I strongly disliked Henry Lightcap and his romanticizing of a hard life. I just think life is more than hitchhiking back home with a dying dog.

I just didn't come away with the same feels as the rest of you, I guess.


Caleb This was the first book by Abbey I ever read, and it changed my life. This is my favorite book, and for it alone Abbey is my favorite author. He inspired me to spend a summer hitchhiking around the west. I've moved on and "grown up", but I still re-read this book for the sake of nostalgia. Interestingly, I had my fiance read it and she said almost exactly the same thing you did, Lucy. I agree with you both, Lightcap is a selfish, childish fool. However, I think that to some degree each of us has a bit of wander-lust, and perhaps even a fear of lying on our deathbeds without an interesting story to look back upon. It is to those feelings that Abbey appeals. Lucy, if I may be so bold, I suspect you're too happy to truly appreciate this book. I do so because the happier I become with my life, the less I myself appreciate it.


message 4: by Lucy (new) - rated it 1 star

Lucy Thanks for your comment, Caleb. While I don't necessarily think it's because I'm too happy to get Abbey's work, because, in my opinion, that is what great fiction can and should do, give you an emotional response to a situation that most readers are unlikely to ever experience, I do think Abbey's personal take on life is outside of my wanting-to-understand interest. All of his misfortunes and deprivation seemed to result from his own doing and the resolutions to his problems didn't inspire me.

But, seriously, I enjoyed your comment. Interesting to me that you find yourself less appreciative the more settled you become. I wonder had I read it before marriage, before kids, before really growing up (maybe Abbey never really grew up) if I would have "gotten it" better?


Michelle Lucy, I totally agree with you. Before reading this book I had read so many ecstatic reviews and quotes raving about how well it was written and it's message. I just felt like I wasn't getting it. First off, the story jumped around too much and I found it hard to follow. Second, I really started to dislike Henry's character. I didn't find too many great things about the book... maybe a second read will enlighten us?


Gabrielle Don't worry about "getting it" Lucy. Some books speak very intimately to certain people, some don't. With as polarizing a figure as Edward Abbey and character as Henry, it really isn't suprising to have two camps. I can sympathesize with you. I'm pretty sure I would have disliked Edward Abbey (if in fact this character was meant to have been based on him) as I found Henry repulsive... but I wasn't this book's target audience. And I can live with that.


Charles I love this book, but I agree that it wouldn't be the best place to start if you've never read Abbey before. Check out Desert Solitaire or a book of his essays first, or one of his older novels...The Brave Cowboy is a good one.


Robert Wendell Berry has an excellent essay "A Few Words In Defense Of Edward Abbey". The essay is found in "What Are People For?" Berry has a very interesting take on Abbey and his work.

This is my favorite Abbey novel. That being said, I would suggest it be read after having read a few of his other novels or collection of essays.


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