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The Serpents of Paradise (1995)

Book coverThis book is a collection of excerpts, essays, and journal entries, edited by John Macrae.

The thirty-five selections presented in it are arranged chronologically by date of incident.

Cover text

Ornery and unpredictable, Edward Abbey was always a horse of a different color. Just when critics had him lassoed and branded as an environmentalist or an anarchist or a lover-romanticist, he'd slip the halter -- undeterred by the taste-makers of the day.

From boyhood in Home, Pennsylvania, to his death in Tucson, Arizona, in 1989, this book offers -- in Abbey's own words -- the world of an American original. Whether writing gact or fiction, Abbey was always an auto-biographer. Each of the thirty-five selections presented here, arranged chronologically by date of incident (not of publication), demonstrates that Abbey was passionately, insistently his own man. As poet-farmer Wendell Berry puts it: "He remains Edward Abbey , speaking as and for himself, fighting, literally, for dear life ... for the survival not only of nature, but of human nature, of culture, as only our heritage of works and hopes can define it."

(Reviews of previous books:)

"Praise the earth for Edward Abbey..."

"The announcement of a new Abbey book, whether essays or fiction, stirs a personal craving no other current American writer can satisfy. He is surely the most vivid and poetic and thoughtful and outrageous and funny and angry and loving recorder of the (interior and exterior) landscapes of the Southwest. ... He is genial, shambling, sometimes sly, always raunchy, fond of drink, profane, given to strong likes and dislikes, hard-nosed, open, aware of frailties but just as aware of strengths, inclined to prodigious anger, enarmored of the outrageous and, surprisingly often, capable of tenderness." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"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

"A record as important and lovely as Muir's and Thoreau's." -- William McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"In Mr. Abbey's hands the mythologies of the West are renewed. ... He is the voice of all that is ornery and honorable. He's a prospector for truth, an exile from the city, a desert rat who `cannot breathe properly without at least a cubic mile of unshared space.'" -- Alice Hoffman

"We are living ... among punishments and ruins. For those who knows this, Edward Abbey's books remain an indispensable solace. His essays and his novels are 'antidotes to despair'." -- Wendell Berry

"A kind of outrageous comedy is the central to the thematic body of Abbey's work -- a freewheeling willingness to the brash, irresponsibly satiric, happily excessive. His is a kind of gallows humor poised against the heartless destruction of mountains and deserts and against 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 serpents of paradise : a reader / Edward Abbey ; edited by John Macrae.
1st ed.  New York : H. Holt, 1995.  xii, 400 p. ; 24 cm.

LC CALL NUMBER: PS3551.B2 A6 1995

  Man--Influence on nature--Literary collections.
  Wilderness areas--Literary collectiona.
  West (U.S.)--Literary collections.

  Macrae, John.

DEWEY DEC:  813/.54 dc20

  "A John Macrae book."
  Includes bibliographical references (p. [397]-398).

ISBN:  0805031324 (alk. paper)
GEOG. AREA CODE:  n-usp--
LCCN:  94-44065

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