Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Not Review A Book?

I can't think of any good reason. My art history teacher this semester has a blog devoted entirely to book reviews. And the book I just finished gave me enough to write about.

It's called The Brave Cowboy and its by Edward Abbey, most famous for his rebellious novel The Monkey-Wrench Gang (which my mom ceremoniously presented me with at age 13). This book is quite different from that how-to guide on tripping up the system, although it does involve a jail break and subsequent manhunt.

Cowboy starts in the desert, with protagonist Jack Burns cooking a simple dinner over an open fire. The first chapter struck me with its attention to describing the environment, more than action or dialogue. Abbey knows his wildlife, plants and animals and geology alike. It's like reading a field guide converted to free-verse poetry.

Once Burns rides into town (on his easily-spooked horse, a young mare named Whisky), I could tell that tragedy was on its way. His old college pal, Paul Bondi, is in jail for draft evasion. Jack's mission: bust him out. However, this is not the Old West, as one might imagine from the horse. It seems to take place in roughly the '50's, or at least the book is copyrighted in '56.

I don't want to spoil too much, so I won't give any more details here. I will say this though: if you decide to read this book (and if I know you I'll be happy to give it to you with your agreement to pass it on), you may want to seriously consider skipping the last chapter. I know, not many people have the will power to do such a thing, but if you are a sensitive soul (like me), and you don't need any more reminders of how f*ed up the world can be, just stop at the second to last chapter, and be happy. Really. I was seriously disturbed until I just started pretending the last chapter didn't exist. I contemplated taking my feelings to EFT circle. However, if you think civilization is just peachy keen, maybe the last chapter would be a good wake-up call for you. I imagine that was Abbey's intention in writing it.

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