A Fan of the Desert

Hal writes that today would have been Edward Abbey‘s 80th birthday.

I discovered the author by accident when I found his book Desert Solitaire among a bunch of 75% off foreign language books at my favourite bookstore in Bonn. It must have been either shortly before or after AndrĂ©’s and my first trip to the USA because Arches National Park rang a bell, so I bought the book and instantly liked his writing style, as well as his descriptions of what Arches was like before it became a National Park.

I’ve since read The Fool’s Progress and The Monkey Wrench Gang, too. I enjoy his books partly because he describes landscapes and areas we visited during our trips to the US and instantly recreates the feeling of being there in my mind. I can almost smell the sagebrush…

Another book by him deserves being mentioned here: The Hidden Canyon with photos by John Blaustein. The text is Abbey’s journal of a boat tour through Grand Canyon.

In Desert Solitaire I first read about the controversy of building Glen Canyon Dam to create Lake Powell, which to me seemed strangely out of place in the middle of the desert when we visited it in 1999. If you want to see Glen Canyon the way it looked before the dam was built, I recommend the book Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World by Tad Nichols, which is another favourite of mine I wrote about before (10 Jan 2001, 3 Nov 2004). You can see some of Blaustein’s photos here and here.