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Confessions of a Barbarian [Paperback]

Edward Abbey , David Petersen

RRP: 11.80
Price: 11.62 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Confessions of a Barbarian Abbey's journals are the closest thing to an autobiography we will ever have. This new edition features an interview in which Abbey speaks candidly about his own work, his approach to writing, and his writing mechanics as well. Also new to this edition is a detailed index. Full description

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is precious 22 Nov 2000
By Curtis L. Wilbur - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ever since I decided to try my hand at writing, I've been curious - more than curious really - driven, to determine what makes us write. I may not be any closer to understanding this after reading "Confessions", but I do know that the need to express oneself this way is shared by many. Edward Abbey was one of those afflicted with the need to write. And in addition to all his many public works, Abbey kept a series of journals.
And so now we have "Confessions of a Barbarian", a compendium of Abbey's journals, gracefully and affectionately edited by David Petersen.
Here is a very rare opportunity to see into the mind of (at least near) genius - a graphic picture of a life, captured from young adulthood to until Abbey's death at the age of 62. (I say "near genius" because how one measures genius is certainly varied. I don't believe that Abbey thought of himself as a genius, and heaven knows, I sure don't want to offend him - not even now!) Here was a life richly experienced, analyzed, self-criticized, and most of all, transcribed - on and on, until the "kows" finally came home.
Contrast this with my review of "One life at a time, please", where I accused Abbey of not being quite honest. I stand by that statement, but here, in "Confessions", at least one mask comes off. Instead of one merely critical of the external world, we finally see the man critical of himself. He did write to make a buck. He wrote for many reasons. The point here is that he wrote.
Call Abbey what you will - environmentalist, philanderer, curmudgeon - all true from time to time. But Abbey was a writer, first and foremost. That is the one thing you can say about him that always holds true. He couldn't stay married. He couldn't take adequate care of his children (a self-confession - of sorts). His vision of paradise, such as it was, was inconsistent and self-defeating. He had racist, and anarchistic tendencies. (How common to have them - forgive us all - but how rare to find them in print!) But always he wrote. He wrote to himself. He wrote to the world. He wrote at times when he should have been taking care of the problems he was writing about. Books, letters, articles, and of course this journal. Abbey had the heart of a writer. He was, as they say, driven.
Abbey's favorite place was the western frontier. That's where he wanted to be with all his heart. And it was his favorite writing topic. It was more than a place and subject matter. It was his obsession. The West taunted Abbey like a seductive, young woman. (And we all know now how Abbey was attracted to young women!) The West's rich colors, profound relief, and intense climate were like an addiction, and Abbey soon mainlined himself. But as far as I can tell, that is the one thing no one seriously tried to talk him out of.
The West is big - or was anyway. Big enough to fill a young man with big dreams. As Abbey matured, his public works were driven toward a single theme: to communicate the tragedy of the closing frontier - the end of dreams.
In "Confessions of a Barbarian", this loss of dreams is finally overshadowed by the loss of the dreamer himself. I literally wept when I read the postscript (which was somewhat embarassing for me, being in a public place). But I share a sense of pride and dignity, because even though I never met the man, I know him. I know him well enough to understand the loss that Petersen feels. Yes, I know it. I dare you to read "Confessions" and not love this man.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Companion for any fan of Ed Abbey's 5 Jun 2001
By Cactus Ed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, I can't believe I haven't already written a review of this book, since it has long been one of my favorites. These journals are incredibly well-written; a lot of it reads as well as anything he ever had published. I have all but one of Ed's books ( the first one, Jonathan Troy, which is impossible to find unless you have in the neighborhood of $7,000 to spend on a rare copy ) and I count this as one of my top three. Ed was a real man, a genuine human being who was mad as hell about a lot of things worth being mad about, a dreamer and romantic, a Great Voice howling in the wilderness of a civilization gone stark raving mad. Plus he mentored a lot of folks, including me 21 years ago with his great book Desert Solitaire. We need Ed's voice now more than ever, and if he can't be here the rest of us will have to read ( and re-read and re-read!) his words to keep his vision alive.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for all would-be monkey wrenchers 1 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This collection from Edward Abbey's journals pulls no punches. David Peterson should be praised for resisting the urge to censor Abbey's alternately brilliant, paranoid, suicidal, cynical, angry, loving, and often quotable journals. The man presented here is the real Abbey--defender of the American West, enemy of what he called the "techno-industrial state"--not an idealized version. It's a fascinating book if you've read some of his other works, to see another stage in the development of his novels and essays. This is a writer for whom the words flow freely, even effortlessly, onto the page. This book accomplishes, I think, what Abbey said was the reason he decided to write: "to entertain my friends and family, and to exasperate my enemies." Certainly Abbey had plenty of enemies, and plenty of admirers as well. I recommend these journals for anyone who loves Edward Abbey, but for the uninitiated, I would recommend "Desert Solitaire" (a classic in modern American literature) or "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (probably his best-known book).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Greatest Book 25 Dec 1998
By Grant Collier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a must-read for all fans of Edward Abbey. Throughout his life, Abbey strove to write that one "great" book. He may have died believing that he had not accomplished that task. However, as it turns out, his life story is, in fact, his greatest "book".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abbey is a character! 8 Feb 2011
By LakeKids - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading Abbey's "The Monkey Wrench Gang", "Desert Solitare" and "Hayduke Lives" wanted to read more of Abbey and thought this would be a good book to become more familiar with the man. Supposed to be as much of an autobiography as exists, it does reveal his thoughts on almost all subjects. Abbey seems to want all out of life, though not always wanting to give of himself unselfishly. He loved so much...women, desert, individuality, freedom from structure and freedom to roam. He touches a chord in almost anyone who loves the wilderness, detests the ever encroaching of civilization to the wild and the greed of destructive corporations. Too bad and too sad to lose him and the spot-on descriptions of all the things that he loved, when he could use words like no other, to tell a story. This books stays in our library as a voice to remind us to protect what wilderness is left.
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