- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: HarpPerenM (July 3, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060956445
- ISBN-13: 978-0060956448
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 292 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,525,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Monkey Wrench Gang, The Paperback – July 3, 2000
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Ed Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang, his 1975 novel, a "comic extravaganza." Some readers have remarked that the book is more a comic book than a real novel, and it's true that reading this incendiary call to protect the American wilderness requires more than a little of the old willing suspension of disbelief. The story centers on Vietnam veteran George Washington Hayduke III, who returns to the desert to find his beloved canyons and rivers threatened by industrial development. On a rafting trip down the Colorado River, Hayduke joins forces with feminist saboteur Bonnie Abbzug, wilderness guide Seldom Seen Smith, and billboard torcher Doc Sarvis, M.D., and together they wander off to wage war on the big yellow machines, on dam builders and road builders and strip miners. As they do, his characters voice Abbey's concerns about wilderness preservation ("Hell of a place to lose a cow," Smith thinks to himself while roaming through the canyonlands of southern Utah. "Hell of a place to lose your heart. Hell of a place... to lose. Period"). Moving from one improbable situation to the next, packing more adventure into the space of a few weeks than most real people do in a lifetime, the motley gang puts fear into the hearts of their enemies, laughing all the while. It's comic, yes, and required reading for anyone who has come to love the desert. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
"Excellent high adventure." -- -- Playboy
"Mixes comedy and chaos with enough chase sequences to leave you hungering for more." -- -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Ribald, outrageous and, in fact, scandalous." -- --Smithsonian
Top customer reviews
So was looking for a few audio books and it suddenly hit me- I wonder if anyone has put some Edward Abbey books on tape yet? It had been years since I looked and could never find one. There is was; his classic ; The Monkey Wrench Gang. I immediately ordered it and it was here in a few days.
I have listened to the first few chapters. My review is two pronged: the first is that this book is a the holy grail for Edward Abbey fans, yet due to the political climate today, it is harder to embrace the characters than in 1977ish when I first read the book.
I had memories of this exciting novel of loveable rebel rousers who were raging against the machine, saving the desert from wanton development etc. However, I can't go back to the 20 year old I was when I first read and loved this book. The reality is they are eco-terrorists and would wind up in Gitmo today. The sad reality is this book was perfect for the times, but would never even be published today.
So for existing fans of the book, one has to treat it as you would any other classic and accept that it was written when times were different and most importantly it is a work of fiction, as Abbey himself was compelled to say many times prior to his death. You have to just accept the premise was right for the times, similar to watching a classic old movie. This goes with the territory when listening to a 40 year old story. For example, try watching a old Burt Reynolds move with his curly top perm and fu-manchu mustache- what looked like macho tough guy kicking ass in 1976, looks more like a Saturday Night Live comedy skit today- well, enough on that.
The second prong is that for me, the reader is an acquired taste. I would have liked to hear a bit younger reader and a little less monotone approach. However, Edward Abbey spoke in a similar fashion so for the purist, I suppose it is very close to a book that is read by the author. I always imagined a more upbeat voice, but when I saw him speak once in Scottsdale AZ, I remember being surprised at his deadpan tempo. I am sure by the end of the book I will be used to the reader.
Regardless, I will be purchasing Desert Solitaire which is another great Abbey book which saw is also on audio now, with the same reader I assume. I appreciate the Abbey family who apparently are making sure his books get to audio- given the choice between this and no audio book at all- I'll take it.
The forces that they fought are even more in control these days, with even more weapons to discourage anyone getting in their way. I think Abbey was hoping this book would encourage more "eco-terrorisim" but except for an occasional strike against the dark forces, the battle has been lost. I live now in Scottsdale where Phoenix, once a medium size town of orange and grapefruit groves, farms and dirt roads when we moved here in 1948, has become another gigantic LA plopped down in the middle of the desert.
I recommend this to any and all who love the Sonoran desert. His descriptions of the merry band's travels through it are lyrical and show a great knowledge of the desert features and flora and fauna of the gorgeous and desolate canyon lands of Utah, and Arizona.
Although, usually at some point in all of Abbey's novels, I want to throw the darn thing against the wall.