DOWN THE RIVER by Edward Abbey

DOWN THE RIVER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This latest collection of Abbey's sage, idiosyncratic essays testifies to the variety of moods and modes of the self-styled ""environmental journalist""--who can write like an angel while lashing a forked tail at the technological/military/industrial ""Perpetual Growth and Power Machine."" For those mourning the shrinking wilderness, the ""damnation"" of rivers, the missile madness, these pieces ""are meant to serve as antidotes to despair. Despair leads to boredom, electronic games, computer hacking, poetry, and other bad habits."" In ""Down the River with Thoreau,"" Abbey drifts and plunges on Colorado's Green River--sending a volley of Thoreau's words, and mischievous glimpses of his ways, against impressions of waters, stars, sun, and sand. En route and in keeping, he muses boozily on giant thunder lizards: ""If only we could see Tyrannosaurus rex come rearing up from the elms of Central Park, a Morgan police horse screaming in its jaws."" On the cold Tatshenshini River in the Canadian Yukon, Abbey peers into bottomless glacier crevasses--""down and into the intense blue inane, between wails of freezing glass."" In ""MX,"" he explores the ""impact area"" of Utah and Nevada where the then-proposed (now ""postponed"") new missile transfer base was planned, observing flora, fauna, and a little town, alternating quiet ecological analysis with jabs of outrage. On the San Juan River (doomed to be dammed), he admits to a lack of interest in the chronology of stone: ""Deep time is too shallow for me. . . . What matters is the strange, mysterious, overwhelming truth that we are here in this magnificent place."" Also included: a mutually curious look at a bear; a tribute to the ""sedate career. . . of the humble turkey buzzard""; a fantasy about unblocking the Colorado River; visits to a Hopi foot race, a ghost town, a disputation of ""River Rats,"" and a hidden canyon. And there are those pleas for wilderness-a powerless, dependent majority's ""one relic of our ancient and rightful liberty."" Comprising writings from 197882 and some previously unpublished pieces, an essential volume for the Abbey following and others who still uphold the faith.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1982
ISBN: 0452265630
Publisher: Dutton