"Postcards from Ed" reveal an Edward Abbey that was complex -- provocative and humorous. The letters are well chosen to show Abbey's warmth towards family, anger toward establishment and delight in friendship. More than anything, Abbey's letters create a picture of a man without pretense. Secondhand clothes, trailer-living, rundown trucks and cheap beer were good enough for him so long as he could venture into the deserts of the Southwest to clear his mind and feed his senses. If he wasn't obsessed he was probably depressed. If he didn't have a deadline he was likely lazy. Or so he said.
He didn't tolerate superficial relationships well -- "Yes, to hell with it. Let's call an end to this inane, pointless, worthless pretense at communication. If you're not bored with it, I certainly am." But he knew the value of a good friendship -- "So, let me know what you [Wendell Berry] think, if you care to trouble yourself about this. I would not want to risk endangering the kind of feelings you've shown me in the past for the sake of mere polemical spleen. Your friendship is far more important to me than striving to win points in a formal debate."
He complained, but with a touch of humor -- "This is a complaint. . . What kind of people are you hiring as rangers these days? Where do you find them? They look and act like cops - not rangers - and the next time one of these armed and uniformed goons bothers me I'm going to try to find out if he knows anything about the history, wildlife, plant life or geology of Saguaro National Monument." And - "Your reviewer . . . gives us a good forthright description of the book's author. As the undersigned can testify from personal acquaintance, Edward Abbey is indeed an "arrogant," "xenophobic," "puerile," "smug" and "dopey" sort of fellow. So far, fair enough. But what about the book . . . [he] forgot to review the book."
In the Forward to the book, Terry Tempest Williams wonders what Abbey would be saying right now if he were still alive. "Postcards from Ed" gives us more than a clue. Abbey would not be surprised by today's converging catastrophes and our, so called, war on terror. He might say we get what we deserve. "Postcards from Ed" is another chance to hear Abbey's prophetic voice. I suspect he would say, "Hey, you're still alive, wake up!"