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Monkey Wrench Gang

Monkey Wrench Gang

4.3 27
by Edward Abbey, Douglas Brinkley (Introduction)

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The bridge -- a monument to progress -- is decked out with bunting and Day-Glo, ready for christening. Suddenly its center rises and splits along a jagged line. A sheet of red flames streaks skyward. The Monkey Wrench Gang strikes again!

What next? Can the gang be planning a beautification project for Glen Canyon Dam?

"A tragicomedy in the classic sense. Man


The bridge -- a monument to progress -- is decked out with bunting and Day-Glo, ready for christening. Suddenly its center rises and splits along a jagged line. A sheet of red flames streaks skyward. The Monkey Wrench Gang strikes again!

What next? Can the gang be planning a beautification project for Glen Canyon Dam?

"A tragicomedy in the classic sense. Man against the system -- against concrete, steel and parking lot wastelands. Beautifully constructed, imaginatively detailed and faultlessly crafted with every effect looped to its matching cause." (Houston Chronicle)

Editorial Reviews

Saturday Review
A Real romp
The Monkey Wrench Gang is a laconicI comedy played out in a vast open space Abbey loves and knows well.
San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
Mixes Comedy and Chaos with enoughchase sequences to leave you hungering for more.
Ribald, outrageous and, in fact, scandalous.
San Francisco Chronicle
Mixes comedy and chaos with enough chase sequences to leave you hungering for more.
Excellent high adventure.
From the Publisher
"Mixes comedy and chaos with enough chase sequences to leave you hungering for more." ---San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.28(w) x 8.01(h) x 1.03(d)
860L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Dr. Sarvis with his bald mottled dome and savage visage, grim and noble as Sibelius, was out night-riding on a routine neighborhood beautification project, burning billboards along the highway-- U.S. 66, later to be devoured by the superstate's interstate autobahn. His procedure was simple, surgically deft. With a five-gallon can of gasoline he sloshed about the legs and support members of the selected target, then applied a match. Everyone should have a hobby.

In the lurid glare which followed he could be seen shambling back to the Lincoln Continental Mark IV parked nearby, empty gas can banging on his insouciant shanks. A tall and ponderous man, shaggy as a bear, he cast a most impressive shadow in the light of the flames, across the and scene of broken whiskey bottles, prickly pear and buckhorn cholla, worn-out tires and strips of retread. In the fire's glare his little red eyes burned with a fierce red fire of their own, matching the candescent coal of the cigar in his teeth--three smoldering and fanatic red bulbs glowing through the dark. He paused to admire his work:




Headlights swept across him from the passing traffic. Derisive horns bellowed as sallow pimply youths with undescended testicles drove by in stripped-down zonked-up Mustangs, Impalas, Stringrays and Beetles, each with a lush-lashed truelove wedged hard overlapping-pelvis-style on the driver's lap, so that seen from the back through the rear window in silhouette against oncoming headlights the car appeared tobe "operated" by a single occupant with--anomaly--two heads; other lovers screamed past jammed butt to groin on the buddy seats of 880-cc chopped Kawasaki motorbikes with cherry-bomb exhaust tubes--like hara-kiri, kamikaze, karate and the creeping kudzu vine, a gift from the friendly people who gave us (remember?) Pearl Harbor--which, blasting sparks and chips of cylinder wall, roared shattering like spastic technical demons through the once-wide stillness of Southwestern night.

No one ever stopped. Except the Highway Patrol arriving promptly fifteen minutes late, radioing the report of an inexplicable billboard fire to a casually scornful dispatcher at headquarters, then ejecting self from vehicle, extinguisher in gloved hand, to ply the flames for a while with little limp gushes of liquid sodium hydrochloride ("wetter than water" because it adheres better, like soapsuds) to the pyre. Futile if gallant efforts. Dehydrated by months, sometimes years of desert winds and thirsty desert air, the pine and paper of the noblest most magnificent of billboards yearned in every molecule for quick combustion, wrapped itself in fire with the mad lust, the rapt intensity, of lovers fecundating. All-cleansing fire, all-purifying flame, before which the asbestos-hearted plutonic pyromaniac can only genuflect and pray.

Doc Sarvis by this time had descended the crumbly bank of the roadside under a billowing glare from his handiwork, dumped his gas can into trunk of car, slammed the lid--where a bright and silver caduceus glisters in the firelight--and slumped down in the front seat beside his driver.

"Next?" she says.

He flipped away his cigar butt, out the open window into the ditch--the trace of burning arc remains for a moment in the night, a retinal afterglow with rainbow-style trajectory, its terminal spatter of sparks the pot of gold-and unwrapped another Marsh-Wheeling, his famous surgeon's hand revealing not a twitch or tremor.

"Let's work the west side," he says.

The big car glided forward with murmurous motor, wheels crunching tin cans and plastic picnic plates on the berm, packed bearings sliding in the servile grease, the pistons, bathed in oil, slipping up and down in the firm but gentle grasp of cylinders, connecting rods to crankshaft, crankshaft to drive shaft through differential's scrotal housing via axle, all power to the wheels.

They progressed. That is to say, they advanced, in thoughtful silence, toward the jittery neon, the spastic anapestic rock, the apoplectic roll of Saturday night in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (To be an American for one Saturday night downtown you'd sell your immortal soul.) Down Glassy Gulch they drove toward the twenty-story towers of finance burning like blocks of radium under the illuminated smog.



"I love you, Abbzug."

"I know, Doc."

Past a lit-up funeral parlor in territorial burnt-adobe brick: Strong-Thorne Mortuary--"Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting?" Dive! Beneath the overpass of the Sante Fe (Holy Faith) Railroad--"Go Santa Fe All the Way."

"Ah," sighed the doctor, "I like this. I like this. . .

"Yeah, but it interferes with my driving if you don't mind."

"El Mano Negro strikes again."

"Yeah, Doc, okay, but you're gonna get us in a wreck and my mother will sue."

"True," he says, "but it's worth it."

Beyond the prewar motels of stucco and Spanish tile at the city's western fringe, they drove out on a long low bridge.

"Stop here."

She stopped the car. Doc Sarvis gazed down at the river, the Rio Grande, great river of New Mexico, its dark and complicated waters shining with cloud-reflected city light.

"My river," he says.

"Our river."

"Our river."

"Let's take that river trip."

"Soon, soon." He held up a finger. "Listen..."

They listened. The river was mumbling something down below, something like a message: Come flow with me, Doctor, through the deserts of New Mexico, down through the canyons of Big Bend and on to the sea the Gulf the Caribbean, down where those young sireens weave their seaweed garlands for your hairless head, 0 Doc. Are you there? Doc?

What People are Saying About This

Bradford Richard
Destoying eyesores is simply another way of creating beauty, and Edward Abbey's dedicated crew are masters of this particular renaissance. Of course, what The Money Wrench Gang does is outrageous, un-American and inimical to the sacred concept of property, and I thoroughly condemn them. If unchecked, they may even start dumping tea in Boston Harbor...."
From the Publisher
"Mixes comedy and chaos with enough chase sequences to leave you hungering for more." —-San Francisco Chronicle

Meet 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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The Monkey Wrench Gang 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is mischievous and absolutely funny. Written in a down to earth style that tells the adventures of four people who bring out the spirit of rabble Americans. I choose this book for a read in a college course I am taking and we just happen to have this book on our shelf. I was very pleased with this book it had me consumed in the journeys and the spirit of each character. Abbey really knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you have not read this then you should it offers a much bigger perspective upon this work we do live in, now it¿s your choice if you wish to follow in the foot steps of ole George Hayduke, Doc. Savis, Seldom seen Smith, and Bonnie Abbzug!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LeatherBoundBooks More than 1 year ago
A must read for all lovers of nature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The ¿Monkey Wrench Gang¿ by Edward Abbey is set in, and around the Four Corners in the mid 1970¿s. A retired doctor, an ex green beret, a die-hard environmentalist, and a hearty outdoorsman, four eco-terrorists have joined to prevent the destruction of the land. They all have one mindset destroy any mechanics that hinder natural movement, such as dams and bridges! They don¿t do this in peaceful ways but only in mass destruction. A reader notices that the author is obviously trying to persuade them through the use of the character¿s dialect. The use of dialect between characters shows the reader plot, setting, conflict, and theme. The book shows the author¿s views and try¿s to persuade his audience. It is shows that he has a strong opinion on the Governments authority. He makes the reader think and uses a lot of action to keep them in suspense. The eco-terrorists blow up dams and bridges anything that may destroy natural movement. This shows that the author also has a strong opinion of destruction of natural land. The dialect between the characters shows these feelings well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amidst the narrow canyons of the American Southwest, Edward Abbey creates a tale uniting four unlikely companions under one goal: To end the development of the desert southwest and return it to its original state before it was introduced to the punishing work of man. Hayduke, an ex-special forces officer, joins a seasoned raft guide named Seldom Seen Smith who both then meet Bonnie Abbzug and Doc Sarvis on a raft trip. It is on this trip that the foursome chooses to form a gang determined to stop the damaging effects of progress by almost any means. The book follows the crew as they travel from one area to another, destroying construction equipment and other symbols of development as they go. The interaction between characters is hilarious, and their differences only make the book more appealing. Complete with danger and romance, 'The Monkey Wrench Gang' is truly a thorough piece of literature.

Countless times Abbey writes of the beauty and bountiful miracles of the desert and each time it is the same area in which the gang is saving from inevitable doom. Abbey describes how the scenery surrounding the characters has a beauty which is difficult to challenge. In an excellent example, Abbey writes, 'The stars looked down. Preliminary premonitions of the old moon already modifying the eastern reaches. There was no wind, no sound but the vast transpiration, thinned to a whisper by distance¿'(90). The setting also offers an incredible background to the intense action going on throughout the book. Whether it is a high-speed chase over narrow roads and along steep canyon walls or a ride down an immense canyon, Abbey always dedicates a beautiful passage to each area in the book. Setting helps to develop the tone of the book as well. By describing, in detail, each region, Abbey gives the sense of true rage and resentment to those who dare to touch this land. The theme is also well-developed due to Abbey's great description of the desert. Those who choose to destroy something beautiful for their personal gain must be challenged, no matter how great the enemy.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!
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*Climbs to the top of the skyscraper, pulls down the cut-out, stabs it, rips it to shreads, burns it, then spits on the ashes.*
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is scandalous, mischievous and absolutely right on. Written in a funny, earthy, passionate style, it tells the adventures of four miscreant people who personify the spirit of America at it's best--rabble-rousing, irrepressible, wilderness loving, and ridiculous--who decide to try to save a part of it. A wild read that will have you laughing and holding on to the edge of your seat all the way. A must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Monkey Wrench Gang is made up of four environmentalists who come together and take action in protecting the environment. The four environmentalists are George Hayduke, Seldom Seen Smith, A.K. Doc Sarvis and Ms. B. Abbzug. Hayduke is a burnt out old veteran, who is a little crazy, and is not afraid to take a risk. Seldom Seen Smith is a polygamist and an outdoorsman, who takes people rafting down the San Juan River. Doc Sarvis is an old doctor who lives and works in New Mexico. Bonnie Abbzug is a very gorgeous young woman who loves an adventure. She is Doc Sarvis. They all meet on a rafting trip down the San Juan River. From there they began to setup places and times to meet. Their plan is to destroy bridges, dams, machinery and anything else that affected the environment. The group organizes and plans to destroy one thing at a time. They get all the supplies they need then they go and do the job and get out of there as soon as they can. Then they all go different ways and meet up again a week or two later. The story takes place in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

Edward Abby used third person point of view in the story to give the reader very in-depth detail about each one of the characters. This point of view also shows the reader what each of the characters is doing when they were not together. When the Monkey Wrench Gang is not together, Edward Abby doesn¿t just talk about one person. He switches back and forth between the characters. He talks about one character and what they plan to do and then at the height of the action he switches to another character. By doing this he keeps the reader on the edge of his seat. Edward Abby does this repeatedly throughout the story.