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Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast [Paperback]

Edward Abbey , David Petersen

RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Sep 2007
But hell, I do like to write letters. Much easier than writing books." And write letters Ed Abbey did. In his famous -- or infamous -- 45-year career, Abbey's cards and letters became as legendary as his books for their wit, vitriol, and ability to speak truth to power. Published here for the first time, the letters offer a fascinating, often hilarious glimpse into the mind of one of America's most iconoclastic and beloved authors. No subject was too banal, too arcane, or too deep for Abbey to expound on: sex, cheerleaders, Mormons, Aspen, and the Bond girls are covered as gleefully as Stegner, Dylan, Chomsky, Buddhism, and betrayal. Whether scolding an editor to simplify ("I've had to waste hours erasing that storm of fly-shit on the typescript") or skewering the chicken-hawk proponents of the war in Vietnam, Abbey's righteous indignation gives hope and inspiration to a generation that desperately needs both.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wakeup Call From Ed 8 Jan 2007
By Dean Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"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!"
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abbey: Now, more than ever 13 Sep 2006
By Abbeyphile - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a great reminder of how far ahead of his time Abbey was. Issues he was concerned about 40 or 50 years ago are argued with a passion and intellect that is missing from today's political discourse. Also missing today is the humor and constructive anger which served as an undercurrent for much of his writing. Beyond all this literary mumbo-jumbo, Abbey still makes for a great read. This is possibly the last of his writing to be published. Savor it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Insight into the Life of a Great Writer 8 Jun 2007
By The Trickster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
David Petersen knew writer Ed Abbey and respected him highly. It shows in both collections David has put together about ol' Cactus Ed. This book, a collection of Abbey's letters to friends, family, other writers, business associates, publishers, and letters to the editor and op-ed sections of dozens of newpapers, is a very fine read if you have any desire to gain a deeper understanding of one of the more talented writers this country has produced. There is humor in these letters, as well as sadness, disappointment, love, teasing, heckling, arguing, and yes, some strong disapproval.

I recommend this and Dave Petersen's and Ed Abbey's other books very highly.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of letters 12 April 2008
By Arthur Digbee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book collects the letters of Edward Abbey, author and provocateur. If you don't know and enjoy his books such as "Desert Solitaire" or "The Monkey Wrench Gang," you should read those first. If you've read his books and want more Ed, then this is the book for you.

The letters are arranged chronologically but fall into a few recurring categories. He writes often to his agents and his publishers, both about money and about his works in progress. You see glimpses of how Ed works through these letters. He also wrote a large number of letters to various newspapers, some under pseudonyms. He wrote, of course, many letters to his friends, and these are surprisingly blunt. I sometimes marveled that he had any friends left. There are surprisingly few letters to his family, even though his oldest children lived some distance from him over the years covered in these letters. His family side does not come across at all well, except for pride in his very young children with fifth wife.

These short letters are, to varying degrees, pithy, insightful, iconoclastic and funny. They show some different sides of Edward Abbey but won't really surprise any fans of his other books.

[Three stars because the book has a pretty narrow audience; it's probably a four star book for hardcore Abbey fans.]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable View of Abbey 13 Mar 2009
By J. Blilie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was a bit skeptical about the format of this book: reprinting many of Ed Abbey's prolific output of letters and notecards. I put off reading it for a long time. I may not have even bought it in the first place, except that I am a rabid [sic] Abbey fan and this promised a few more nibbles of his caustic wit and incisive puncturing of the pompous (or just the very large.) I'm very glad I did: This is a fun, big helping of more of Ed to enjoy -- with a slightly different and more intimate angle. (We did lose him WAY too soon, too young, too long gone; the world is a much poorer place without him. Tomorrow, it will be 20 years (!) since he passed.)

The book is a compilation of selected letters and postcards written by Abbey throughout his life. They deal with, mainly, literature, the environment, and some on his personal life or his friends' personal lives. It's a bit like a 30,000-foot autobiography told in correspondence.

The great thing about it, and in contrast to his journals (the published versions of which I own), is that each letter or note is like a condensed essay. It's not just rambling, like most of the journals, interesting as they are. These short pieces were written for specific audiences with specific purposes in mind; and this is what makes them special. Abbey brought his craft to bear on them, because they mattered to him. If you can use the metaphor of an oil-painting for his novels and say a wood-cut or lithograph for one of his essays and doodles for his journals, I would call these short pieces line drawings. Very enjoyable line drawings, well-executed and with plenty of vigor.

Highly recommended to any fan of Ed Abbey.
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