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One Life at a Time, Please Paperback – February 15, 1988

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Editorial Reviews Review

In his passionate defense of wilderness and wild-ness, Edward Abbey is always worth reading for those who value a wolf's howl more than the ka-chink! of a cash register, and no matter what the subject, Cactus Ed always shoots from the hip. This collection of essays is no different, and contains the invaluable "A Writer's Credo," wherein Abbey tells would-be scribes to rock the boat and make a stand, else the noble craft is reduced to a mess of pottage, and the muse has no reason for staying.

From Library Journal

In this collection of previously published essays, Abbey writes on topics as diverse as immigration law, the nature of femininity, and the philosophy of Emerson. The book is divided into three sections: Politics, Travel, and Books and Art. Marvelous portraits of the Rio Grande and the Salmon rivers showcase Abbey's ability to evoke a feeling for the majesty of these places. His political essays are lively and provocative; those discussing books and art reveal him as one who has thought deeply about his craft. An original writer with strong convictions whose latest book is recommended for most collections. Randy Dykhuis, Grand Rapids P.L., Mich.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (February 15, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805006036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805006032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania, in 1927. He was educated at the University of New Mexico and the University of Edinburgh. He died at his home in Oracle, Arizona, in 1989.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Stephen W. Hinch on September 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
Let me say one thing right up front: Ed Abbey is my favorite author. From the lyrical imagery of "Beyond the Wall" to the alternating landscapes and polemics of "Desert Solitaire" to the introspective fiction of "The Black Sun," Abbey at his best was like no other author. That said, "One Life at a Time, Please" is not my favorite Abbey book. Always a mercurial writer, ("when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad he was awful"), this is a very uneven book. Since it is a collection of essays originally written as lectures, magazine articles, and book forewards, you'd expect a certain amount of variability, but "One Life at a Time, Please" has more highs and lows than a Canyonlands relief map.
Some of the essays are very good--"A Writer's Credo" and "The Future of Sex," for example. Others, like "River of No Return," illustrate his trademark power to breathe extraordinary life into otherwise ordinary adventures. My main complaint is with the collection of essays in the section titled "Politics." In "A Writer's Credo," Abbey eloquently argues that it is the writer's responsibility to be a critic of the society in which he lives, so as to foster positive change in that society. But he seems to forget that to be effective, the writer must also persuade. The vitriolic essays in "Politics" may please existing ecodefenders but are more likely to alienate those important readers who are still undecided. If the result causes people to turn away from environmentalism rather than embrace it, they do more harm than good. Abbey himself seemed to recognize the danger of his ways in the excellent essay, "Mr Krutch.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on November 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
Of all Abbey's non-fiction titles, I liked One Life at A Time best after Desert Solitaire. It's vintage Abbey at his best. You may not agree with his political views in this book of essays. But you'll find his arguments compelling and logical. "Immigration And Other Liberal Taboos" is a classic. So is "The Future of Sex" in which he asks the question, "What is femininity?" Gloria Steinham be damned.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allan Stellar on August 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
Oh where is Ed now that we need him most? What would Abbey think of cell phones, the Internet, smart phones, GPS guidance systems for hiking and everything else that has changed over the last twenty years. What would Ed think of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Obama, the S and P downgrade, the Tea Party, 310 million Americans, the Dream Act, Michael Pollan, 393 CO2 and all the rest?

Abbey at his worst is better than most writers at their best. It is that simple.

Within his essay collections the introduction is always fun to read. Hunter Thompson hated writing "Introductions"; Abbey gloried in them. And, as usual, the best essay is presented first. I remember the first time I read "Free Speech". It was during my second marriage (a much abbreviated affair). The essay made me laugh out loud: I'd never read anything quite so personal, witty and rascally. It remains one of my favorite essays by Abbey. Wife Number Two failed to see the humor and, eventually, tired of me asking her along to climb a mountain or two on the weekends. I moved to the mountains to live in an "off grid solar cabin made of dirt"; she re-married a contractor with a house that has all the amenities of modern life. All happy!

And then there is the "Writer's Credo". All I can say to Abbey is: Amen!

Read Abbey. America's best, and most important, writer in my opinion (unless you love modern amenities).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book of essays gives the reader new to Abbey a brief but coherent representation of his cannon. Among favorites in the book are "Theory of Anarchy" where he outlines a lifestyle and society where the individual is priority; "Lake Powell Houseboat" where Abbey uses the pastoral wonder of the Colorado River to reflect on personal experience; and finally the flag ship essay of the entire collection: "A Writer's Credo." Here Abbey outlines the true purpose of the freelance writer "to oppose injustice, to defy power, and to speak out for the voiceless." All Abbey followers should own this book and all who are interested should buy one
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of shorter pieces published by Edward Abbey in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and other venues. It is organized (roughly) into the following sections: politics, travel, and literature/art. Some chapters were of greater interest to me than others, but all gave me greater insight into Edward Abbey the man, and Ed Abbey, the writer.

Highlights and controversies:

Abbey has been called lots of things, but when he was accused of being "...arrogant, incoherent, flippant, nonsensical, nasty, and unconstructive..." after publishing an anti-cattle-on-western-public-lands rant, he commented, "'Nasty and unconstructive' - I love that" (p. 3).

"The rancher (with a few honorable exceptions) is a man who strings barbed wire across the range; drills wells and bulldozes stockponds; drives off elk and antelope and bighorn sheep; poisons coyotes and prairie dogs; shoots eagles, bears, and cougars on sight; supplants the native grasses with tumbleweed, snakeweed, povertyweed, cow[manure], anthills, mud, dust, and flies. And then leans back and grins at the TV cameras and talks about how much he loves the American West" (p. 17-18).

"And if the wilderness is our true home, and if it is threatened with invasion, pillage, and destruction - as it certainly is - then we have the right to defend that home, as we would our private quarters, by whatever means are necessary" (p. 31).

"'Paw,' says my little brother, as the old man loads the shotgun, 'let me shoot the deer this time.'
'You shut up,' I say.
Our father smiles. 'Quiet,' he whispers, 'both of you. Maybe next year.' He peers down the dim path in the woods, into the gathering evening. 'Be real still now. They're a-comin'. And Ned -' He squeezes my shoulder.
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