The Monkey Wrench Gang (Monkey Wrench Gang, Bk 1)
The Monkey Wrench Gang - Monkey Wrench Gang, Bk 1 Author:Edward Abbey, Douglas Brinkley Edward Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang a "comic extravaganza," which it is, although one with a clear, serious message: to protect the American wilderness from the forces of commercial enterprise. The story centers on George Hayduke, an ex-Green Beret and Vietnam vet, who returns to the Southwestern desert after the war to find his... more » beloved canyons and rivers threatened by industrial development. On a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River, Hayduke joins forces with three others who share his indignation and want to do something about it: feminist saboteur and Bronx exile Bonnie Abzug, wilderness guide and outcast Mormon Seldom Seen Smith, and libertarian billboard torcher Doc Sarvis, M.D. Together they venture off to become eco-raiders, waging war on the strip miners, clear-cutters, and the highway, dam, and bridge builders who are turning their natural habitat into a wasteland. The misadventures of this motley group make for an uproarious blend of chaos, conflict, and comedy.« less
An interesting book with a vocabulary to keep out the uneducated. Since it is a book about environmental activism I believe this was a deliberate attempt by the author to keep the movement "pure" and in the hands of the academia. The characters are interesting and the conclusion most satisfying. Even though it was a bit overblown, I enjoyed it and recommend it.
Considering that I hated this book at the beginning, it definitely grew on me a lot more as the narrative progressed. Essentially, a group of strangers who happen to be "environmentalists" (of various sorts with varying motivations) find each other and set about a quest to wage a war on the machinery of progress and restore the surrounding environment to what it once was by destroying bridges and a very critical dam that we are all familiar with. It's a novel that set off an environmental warfare movement, and which, as I said, I hated at the start.
I hate going into too much detail in reviews like this, but suffice it to say that the narrator is extremely opinionated, the characters have varying levels of hypocrisy and crudeness, and much of the humor falls flat for me as a reader. More than that, it lacks a real satisfying ending. Yet, somehow, I did find myself pulled into the hijinks and unbelievable series of events as I continued to read. Abbey certainly does have a talent for writing and clever turns of phrase at times, and I could not help but want to know what happens next.
This is not one that I would have continued reading of my own volition; it was assigned for my class; yet, it is a book that I at least was not left regretting having read. There are doubtlessly better options, but in terms of "Western novels," it is actually a quite good option, and most of my class enjoyed it far more than I did.