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Fool's Progress (1988)

Book coverThis book is in my opinion Edward best novel. A character bearing more than a few similarities to Edward Abbey gets fed up with his current life and embarks on a cross-country trip back to his parents home in West Virginia. This would make an excellent philosophical road-movie if it was ever filmed...

Abbey states on the inner cover that it is not an autobiography, but that art imitates life in a sense.

Confessions of a Barbarian - an early version

In 1986, Capra Press released in paperback only an excerpt from a work in progress which later became The Fool's Progress. This was called Confessions of a Barbarian. It was released in very limited numbers (less than 1,000 according to the publisher). This book was part of Capra's "Back to Back" series meaning that it was bound with another book (in this case Jack Curtis's Red Knife Valley). In other words, you could finish Abbey's book first and then turn the book over and read Jack's all in the same book (some people call this 69ing - I'm serious this is supposedly the nickname publishers give these type of books.

In the Editor's preface at the beginning of the book, Abbey spends 14 pages saying that the aforementioned Henry Lightcap wrote this and Abbey was only the editor.

[Thanks to Perry Patterson for this information]

Cover text

When his third wife abandons him in Tucson, boozing, misantrophic anarchist Henry Holyoak Lightcap shoots his refrigerator and sets off in a battered pick-up truck for his ancestral home in West Virginia. Accompanied only by his dying dog and his memories, the irascible individualist begins a bizarre cross-country odyssey - determined to make peace with his past ... and to wage one last war against the ravages of "progress."

In his first novel in over a decade, the author of The Monkey Wrench Gang is at his storytelling best, displaying the merciless biting wit that has earned him the unshakable devotion of readers from coast to coast.


"Very funny and sometimes beautiful ... Abbey can attain a kind of glory in his writing. He takes scenes that have been well-traveled by other writers, and re-creates them as traditional American myths" -- The New York Times Book Review

"Abbey clearly has a high-octane mind, and the combination of that mind and that heart and that spleen make for lively prose and much wry, profane humor" -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"Readers will cherish or burn it, but they're not going to leave it out in the rain" -- Phoenix Republic

"A kind of outrageous comedy ... a freewheeling willingness to the brash, satiric, excessive ... a kind of gallows humor poised against the mechanized diminishment of the human spirit." -- Russel Martin, The New York Times Magazine


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Library of Congress Data

Abbey, Edward, 1927-
  The fool's progress : an honest novel / Edward Abbey.  1st ed.  New York :
Holt, c1988.  485 p. ; 24 cm.

LC CALL NUMBER: PS3551.B2 F6 1988

DEWEY DEC:  813/.54 dc19

ISBN:  0805009213 : $19.95
LCCN:  88-4677

This is the work-in-progress published as Confessions of a Barbarian (mentioned above):

Abbey, Edward, 1927-
  Confessions of a barbarian / Edward Abbey. Red Knife Valley / Jack Curtis.
Santa Barbara, Ca. : Capra Press, 1986.  87, 94 p. ; 19 cm.

LC CALL NUMBER: PS3551.B2 C6 1986

  Curtis, Jack, 1922- Red Knife Valley. 1986.
  Red Knife Valley.

SERIES TITLES (Indexed under SERI option):
  Capra back-to-back series ; v. 7

DEWEY DEC:  813/.54 dc19

  No collective t.p. Titles transcribed from individual title pages.
  Texts bound together back-to-back and inverted.

ISBN:  088496244X (pbk.) : $7.50
LCCN:  85-26939

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