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.