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The Monkey Wrench Gang (P.S.) Paperback – December 12, 2006
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Mixes comedy and chaos with enough chase sequences to leave you hungering for more. --San Francisco Chronicle
Written over 40 years ago, it still provide the readers with comico-politico releaf, without having to resort to action to express their dislike or certain environmentally damaging policies. --Gilberto d'Urso
About the Author
Edward Abbey spent most of his life in the American Southwest. He was the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the celebrated Desert Solitaire, which decried the waste of America’s wilderness, and the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, the title of which is still in use today to describe groups that purposefully sabotage projects and entities that degrade the environment. Abbey was also one of the country’s foremost defenders of the natural environment. He died in 1989.
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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.