Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989

Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989

by Edward Abbey

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ending with an entry written 12 days before his 1989 death at age 60, the diaries of the late environmentalist and novelist (The Monkeywrench Gang) are adolescent in spirit, with all the virtues and vices that word implies. Abbey is capable of startling self-righteousness; his fulminations against writers he considers second-rate seem to be motivated as much by jealousy as by genuine bewilderment at his rivals' success. Yet such moments are cut with welcome self-mockery: He calls himself ``E. Abbey, famous unknown author.'' Though he traveled over the world, he finds his spiritual home in the American Southwest, and some of his most moving writing here pays lush homage to the austere landscape or lashes out at those poised to destroy it. Abbey the lover is as vocal as the moralist: exuberantly priapic tributes to one woman after another fill these pages. Petersen, a freelance writer and environmentalist, was a longtime friend of ``Cactus Ed.'' Illustrated with Abbey's drawings. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Notorious writer Abbey (The Monkeywrench Gang, Desert Solitaire) kept a journal from the age of 19 until a few days before his death in 1989. Selected and edited by friend and environmental writer Petersen, the entries included here give valuable insight into an incredibly complex man. Beginning in Europe and skipping around the desert Southwest, the journals follow the enigmatic, opinionated Abbey as he creates many enemies and legion of fans over the course of a lifetime. Credited with originating the concept of eco-terrorism in defense of his beloved Western wilderness, Abbey emerges as a misunderstood loner who needed a delicate balance of companionship and freedom to exist. Highlights include candid thoughts on his peers, ongoing feuds with reviewers, and original drawings by Abbey himself. Petersen adds helpful insights and bracketed comments. Essential for all nature, regional, and literary biography collections.-Tim Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, Wash.
Abbey's longtime friend David Petersen has selected the best from among the seminal eco-radical's 20 volumes of previously unpublished journals, illustrated with Abbey's own sketches. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Roland Wulbert
Beatnik turned major American essayist, ecologist in advance of the modern ecological movement, anarchist "in favor of settling the African problem by violent revolution, if at all possible," and self-proclaimed Communist, Abbey is both compelling and infuriating, more so in his essays than the fiction he considered his serious work. His journals show that he didn't so much find a voice as mature the one he always had. He gradually replaces his schematic ideas for novels, which inundated him, with observations and narratives. He lusts after anything in skirts, marries one woman after another, is ebullient at the birth of his first child, more reserved about the second. He responds insightfully to some of his colleagues--he was the first on his block to praise Allen Ginsberg--invidiously to others: "John Irving on the cover of "Time" (September '81). That magazine never fails to bestow its blessings on the mediocre." A must for every library with serious holdings in the literature of the Southwest; others may find perhaps too much juvenilia in it. Then again, it's Ed Abbey.

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Little, Brown and Company
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1st ed

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