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Postcards from Ed
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Postcards from Ed: Dispatches And Salvos from an American Iconoclastby Edward AbbeyPostcards from Ed is a collection of Edward Abbey's letters from 1949 to 1980 offers a fascinating, often hilarious glimpse into the mind of one of America's most iconoclastic and beloved authors. No subject was too banal, too arcane, or too deep for Abbey to expound upon, such as: Literature, the West, Wallace Stegner, dreams, Bob Dylan children, Hunter S. Thompson, war, John Erlich, enemies, editors, critics, Noam Chomsky, music, sex, Aspen, civilization, Christians, anarchy, family, the publishing world, Tom Wolfe and Thom Wolfe, Buddhism, trophy hunting, Brower, Foreman, the NRA, vasectomies, God, Wendell Berry, men, John McPhee, Robert Redford, wilderness, Desert Solitaire, The Monkey Wrench Gang, New York, the Sierra Club, Mizz Magazine, off-road vehicles, the Bible, the East, Jim Harrison, Pirsig, feminism, cheerleaders, Edward Hoagland, patriotism, Franny and Zooey, the Bond Girls, cooking, Mormons, immigration, Updike, mysticism, Jack Kerouac, cowboys, love, Earth First!, cows, deserts, growth, death, women, betrayal, and Annie Dillard.
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The book is a compilation of selected letters and postcards written by Abbey throughout his life. They deal with, mainly, literature, the environment, and some on his personal life or his friends' personal lives. It's a bit like a 30,000-foot autobiography told in correspondence.
The great thing about it, and in contrast to his journals (the published versions of which I own), is that each letter or note is like a condensed essay. It's not just rambling, like most of the journals, interesting as they are. These short pieces were written for specific audiences with specific purposes in mind; and this is what makes them special. Abbey brought his craft to bear on them, because they mattered to him. If you can use the metaphor of an oil-painting for his novels and say a wood-cut or lithograph for one of his essays and doodles for his journals, I would call these short pieces line drawings. Very enjoyable line drawings, well-executed and with plenty of vigor.
Highly recommended to any fan of Ed Abbey.
If you read and enjoyed Ed. Abbey, I include mydelf in this group, it is a fun read down memory lane. Abbey's two most influential books are "Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness" who his fan consider to be the 20th. Centuries "Walden" and "The Monkey Wrench Gang" the inspiration for "Earth First" are widely refered to here. The auther was neither a Thoreau nor a bomb throwing arsonist. True he was an excentrict in the image of one of his heros Hunter Thompson, but he did know the limits, Abbey did enjoy the debauchery's of life be it women, drugs, booze or guns. Shooting up a discared home appliance while drunk followed by rough and tumble sex was a favorite way for Abbey to reduce stress.
"Postcards from Ed" is a collection of his letters to friends, he often wrote them on a postcards, thus the title that David Petterson chose. They are only a small sample of what he wrote, most have been lost or destroyed by the receivers because they were to blunt and/or insulting. Those that did make it into the book will be enjoyed by his fans as reminders about the man and the stages of his life. There are no return letters so it's strickly a one way trip. All the language and blunt insults that have come to be associated with Ed Abbey are here.
I hope I am wrong and there is more unpublished Abbey stuff out there. To a lifelong Abbey fan like myself it's all good, all still very relevant, still inspiring. Ed was an American Classic, in his writing and in his life. He will endure, as he should.