Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 25, 2021
Back in 1981, I was browsing Eagle Harbor Book Company, an independent bookstore on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle, when a woman I'd never met - presumably an employee or owner of the store - approached me and said 'I have just the book for you.' Curious, I followed her to a nearby shelf, where she selected Edward Abbey's 'The Brave Cowboy' and handed it to me.
Now, I'm standing in her store a stranger, 6'3" tall, tattooed and bearded, wearing a Harley t-shirt, grease-stained Levi's and well-worn biker boots. What in the world made this woman think 'The Brave Cowboy' might be the book for me?
And then I read the jacket blurb. And then I read the first couple of pages. And then I bought 'The Brave Cowboy' and another Abbey tome, the classic 'Desert Solitaire'. And to this day I bless that woman, whoever she was, for turning me on to this amazing, powerful, opinionated and iconoclastic activist, agitator and author.
I finished 'The Brave Cowboy' that night (although I've read it numerous times since then) and was halfway through 'Desert Solitaire' by the time my return flight landed in Austin. Since then, I have read the majority of Abbey's work - I know I've missed an essay or two - and made a practice of buying additional copies of those first two books - 'The Brave Cowboy' and 'Desert Solitaire' - as gifts for family members and friends. I want to pay forward that woman's kindness to me the best way I know: by creating new Edward Abbey readers!
So, what's so great about Edward Abbey?
In this and other books, Edward Abbey articulated my love for the American Southwest, and particularly that gorgeous, unforgiving region known as 'desert.' He instructed me on why it is important - how the wilderness, all wilderness, is essential to our survival even if we never leave our cities long enough to visit; even if we just fly over them on our way from one urban cluster to another - and the many ways in which that wilderness can be casually destroyed, even by those taxed with preserving it. His descriptive powers and shared stories brought the desert to life, and made me long to experience it for myself.
And once I had? Some of my happiest memories are of the desert; the boundless sky and far-off horizon, the painted mountains and shadowy canyons....
Thank you, bookstore woman, and thank you, Edward Abbey.