All The Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American Westby David Gessner Published 14 Mar 2016
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|Publisher||W. W. Norton Company|
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Archetypal wild man Edward Abbey and proper, dedicated Wallace Stegner left their footprints all over the western landscape. Now, award-winning nature writer David Gessner follows the ghosts of these two remarkable writer-environmentalists from Stegner's birthplace in Saskatchewan to the site of Abbey's pilgrimages to Arches National Park in Utah, braiding their stories and asking how they speak to the lives of all those who care about the West.
These two great westerners had very different ideas about what it meant to love the land and try to care for it, and they did so in distinctly different styles. Boozy, lustful, and irascible, Abbey was best known as the author of the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (and also of the classic nature memoir Desert Solitaire), famous for spawning the idea of guerrilla actions—known to admirers as "monkeywrenching" and to law enforcement as domestic terrorism—to disrupt commercial exploitation of western lands. By contrast, Stegner, a buttoned-down, disciplined, faithful family man and devoted professor of creative writing, dedicated himself to working through the system to protect western sites such as Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado.
In a region beset by droughts and fires, by fracking and drilling, and by an ever-growing population that seems to be in the process of loving the West to death, Gessner asks: how might these two farseeing environmental thinkers have responded to the crisis?
Gessner takes us on an inspiring, entertaining journey as he renews his own commitment to cultivating a meaningful relationship with the wild, confronting American overconsumption, and fighting environmental injustice—all while reawakening the thrill of the words of his two great heroes.
"All The Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West" Reviews
As confusing of a title it may be (in my opinion), I am beginning to think it is because the wild that remains lives on only through books; in particular, those written by Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey. Those 2 authors lives are detailed in this book as Gessner takes a trip through the not so wild west, to research their lives. I expected more nature, mostly because I found the book at the National Park gift shop in Zion. I did not get that. That being stated, what I did inherit was a worm hole of books to read which detail the history of the west and its former state of wildness. I recommend this book because of the way Gessner has brought together so many various authors along with the main 2, that can teach us about how the west should be...wild and nothing more. I am excited for the books newly placed on my list of those to read.
I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it, but I never quite figured out the author's purpose in writing it or the audience he thought he was writing to. Part travel narrative, part biography (or biographies, really), part environmental screed, the book sort of meanders around a lot of different ideas, which maybe--given the fact that the book was written as the product of a long roadtrip around the West--is the author's intention. But as a result, none of the author's topics are ever addressed very fully. I'm also not sure who Gessner thinks he's writing to here. Readers who are unfamiliar with Abbey and Stegner would likely be lost; serious fans will probably be a little bored at times. I've read a lot of Abbey and a little of Stegner (just Angle of Repose, really), so I was interested much of the time, but I still don't feel that I know either of those men fully after reading the book. But on the other hand, it did whet my interest in reading more Stegner (and reminded me why I enjoy reading Abbey), so maybe it's a win in the end.
Advanced reading copy review Due for publication April 20, 2015
In "All the Wild That Remains" author David Gessner takes us on a road trip of self-reflection, eco-tourism and literary criticism. He is following in the footsteps of the two authors who jump-started the American eco-activism of the 1970's, Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner (neither of whom were previously familiar to me). Abbey (best known for "The Monkey Wrench Gang") was the gonzo wild man of the West, advocating direct action, while Stegner (best known for "Big Rock Candy Mountain") was more of a quiet conservationist who helped to write legislation preserving the fragile ecosystem of Anerica's deserts and prairies. Both loved the great outdoors and inspired many readers to visit and advocate for the environment. Both also helped to ruin what they loved most. Mr. Gessner covers a lot of ground, literally and figuratively, and raises more questions than he answers. Readers will have to make up their own minds about what form environmentalism should take for future generations to be able to benefit from what the West has to offer. The end result is that I now have a few books by each author on my "want to read" list. I think Mr. Gessner would call that mission accomplished.
a bit of a hard slog reading this (for me anyway) as in some ways this is 4 books in one, if not 5 , dual biograpy, environmentalism/land use of western usa, author gessner's road trip visiting stegner and abbey's important places, lit crit, possible trail markers for us or us of the future and what should we do now/then (umm 6?)
i really like this review of book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
so to reiterate, if one is well read in stegner and abbey, this may be too slow and unenlightening, if reader knows nothing of these two giant writers this might be too 'insider', and if one is passionate about western usa land use, conservationism, long term sustainability of land water plants animals human population explosion and explosive exploitation of west usa this is interesting read, but not super helpful, to me.
but i encourage all to 'get into' abbey and stegner if you haven't, and this book is good for that ...
"part dueling biography, part travel narrative, part meditation, part criticism, part nature writing" -- as summed up by the author himself in his "notes on sources."
david gessner's all the wild that remains uses the lives of edward abbey and wallace stegner as a framework around which to build not only a study of their disparate writing careers, but also environmentalism in the west and the accelerating effects of climate change on the region. never dull, gessner's book wends a circuitous route, moving forward and backward in time, to explore the legacy of the american west's twin deans of environmental writing. musing upon their respective literary bequests (and his own admiration of their individual works), gessner considers the relevancy and importance of these towering titans not only in american letters, but on the attitudes and policies that have shaped the west. all the wild that remains will surely appeal to fans of both cactus ed and wally stegner (abbey's one-time professor), but also stands sturdily on its own as homage to the celebrated writers within and the landscapes they both fought so hard to preserve.
it may be an overstatement, but let's try this one on: we read wallace stegner for his virtues, but we read edward abbey for his flaws. stegner the sheriff, abbey the outlaw.
Both Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner were powerful environmental writers who shared a passion for the western wilderness and fought to preserve it. In All the Wild that Remains nature writer David Gessner has created a fascinated dueling biography of Abbey and Stegner, part literary criticism, part travel narrative, part nature writing.
Desert Solitaire, a journal of Abbey's time as a ranger in Arches National Monument, has been a favorite book of mine since first reading it the seventies. I love his passion for wilderness and his ability to inspire readers to continue his fight to preserve it. This book gave me a better understanding of Abbey (his childhood, his struggles with depression and why his love for wilderness often manifested itself in lashing out at those he believed were destroying it). Wallace Stagner, who taught and worked with Abbey, provided a quote that describes Abbey's appeal so well: "His books were burrs under the saddle blanket of complacency. He had the zeal of a true believer and a stinger like a scorpion when defending the natural, free, unmanaged, unmanhandled wilderness of his chosen country." I will definitely be reading more books by both of these amazing authors.