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The Fool's Progress [Paperback]

Edward Abbey

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Book Description

31 Dec 1990
Author of "The Monkey Wrench Gang", this tragi-comic novel focuses on Henry, who, left flat by his third wife, responds by first shooting the refrigerator and then taking off in his old Dodge pickup, accompanied by his dying dog, Solstice. The story follows his journey and adventures.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  105 reviews
56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing last autobiographical novel 26 May 2000
By Owen Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Edward Abbey died in March of 1989. In the latter part of 1988, he saw his last and perhaps most accomplished work brought to bed at his publishers in New York. The author of many highly controversial works of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his seemingly solitary stand against the ecological destruction of the western American deserts, Abbey's last book effectively completed a cycle. At the same time it was a very close foretelling of his own probable doom.
Abbey was an environmentalist from the beginning. In the East of his youth, he saw strip mines close in on his father's mountain acres. Out West, he witnessed the early preparations being made to dam the Colorado and its tributaries. He rafted down Glen Canyon and saw the hidden valleys filled with a beauty that was soon after to be engulfed. He smelt out the tricky political deals being woven by senators and landowners in the forgotten tracts of the butte country and did his best to expose them. Against all of the attempts to tame this corner of the American wilderness, Abbey railed.
In books ranging from "Desert Solitaire" (1967), a journal of a season in the desert, to "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (1975), an explosive novel of saboteurs versus dambuilders, Abbey argues his points in favour of preserving the canyon country. Having been there "before" and "after," his voice has a compelling authority. To read his account of Glen Canyon before the dam is to be filled with regret at the later spoliation.
In "The Fool's Progress," Abbey gives us something of a summing up of his own life. The book is like a reverse history of Kerouac's "On the Road." Instead of youth rushing out through the length of America to meet its new and cosmic identity on the West Coast, here is a life which is wearing down, attacked from within, going back from the desert to the Appalachian hills of birth and ancestry. In the chronicle of the winding down, as the truck begins to fail and a mortal pain begins to rise, boyhood is measured against the actual experience of the now hard-bitten adult.
"The Fool's Progress" is the work of a now accomplished writer in his prime. We might have expected much more from Edward Abbey and his early death is a great loss. Nevertheless, his completed works stand on their own and I can recommend them to anyone who is intrigued by the workings of an original mind as it tackles the problems of our age.
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read. 27 Mar 2000
By Andrew List - Published on Amazon.com
Being an avid reader, I've read all of the "great works" -- from Socrates and Plato to Steinbeck and Hemingway -- and this is the best fiction/philosophy that I've ever read. Abbey's discriptions of his travels and laments are first class -- funny, honest, and down-right on the mark. When I met Henry Lightcap in chapter one, I wanted to know who he is and how he became to be. At the end, I cried for a man that I came to know and love. Although I love and respect many of the great works of the west, this is the most incredible novel I have ever read. I re-read this book at least once a year -- it's a wonderful journey, never a chore. If I could recommend one book out of the multitudes I've read, this would be the one. And the only.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth. 30 Nov 1999
By "kcshankd" - Published on Amazon.com
Life. Death. Love. War. The life-long struggle away from what you are towards what you might be, if only..., or the struggle back to what you were. Read this. Read the rest of the reviews below. Then shell out twelve bucks and buy this book. When it arrives at your door, dedicate a few hours in an out-of-the-way place. Keep those that you love handy. Keep your spirits up, life is one kick in the groin after another and this tome is no different. It's a long, hard race kids. No one wins or loses, we simply end up carrying our stinking dying dogs the last few miles home.
I sent this book to my mom when she asked me why I thought the way I did. A few months later I got the best letter of my life.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Fortunate to be Foolish 4 Aug 2007
By C. J. Tebo - Published on Amazon.com
Not every book will fully resonate the first time you read it. Some books require experience on the part of the reader, experience with life and its endless variety of pain, suffering, joy, beauty, etc. Edward Abbey's, "The Fool's Progress" is such a book. If you've never treated a person badly, lost an opportunity or felt the disquiet of not knowing where you "fit" in the world, the book might not resonate as much with you as it did with me.

Still, don't pass up the opportunity to experience a well-crafted story and the kind of tale where the imagery stays with you long after the final page. I rode along with Abbey's alter-ego Henry Lightcap, sitting on the front seat next to his steadfast, last companion and ate up the miles from Tucson to that place of green hills, back East. Along the way, I too recalled my first love, the life I might have had and the chances I took that didn't quite turn out the way I'd planned. Sometimes it was a painful journey, sometimes wistful, but in the end after all was said and done, like Henry, I too felt refreshed, newly awakened and excited to learn what the future holds.

This book offers glimpses into the life of a person who even at the very end doesn't feel the need to say "I wish I'd done it differently." We know he'd have done some things differently. That's not the point. The point Abbey makes through Henry is that it's critical to recognize the value of the things we do when we do them. Reach out to the person you care about, take the chance or opportunity when it's presented, look for the beauty in the things that make you feel at peace with yourself. Abbey knows, it's not always an easy road but the journey is what makes the destination.

In sum, Abbey has crafted the kind of high quality story that in the end reminds the reader that we can only be ourselves, warts and all. Let's be honest, the warts are often the most interesting parts.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the best novel ever written 5 Jan 2005
By Brian G. Deblanc - Published on Amazon.com
I have loaned Fool's Progress out more times than I can remember, to all sorts of people, always with the stipulation that the person has to either read it or return it quickly. It's not a book to lose, but one to carry with you on long outdoor adventures: the more dog-eared, the better. Without fail, the response of people who borrowed & read it has followed a progression of illumination not unlike the one presented by Abbey himself: 1) geez, this guy is a pig!; 2) Well, he's a pig, but I sort of understand how he got to where he is; 3) I get it, and I understand the protagonist. This is a fantastic novel.

Every time. I never ever want to be without a copy of Fool's Progress.
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