“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
― Desert Solitaire
My daughter called me to ask if I’d ever read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby.
It was on a list of about 125 books from one of her classes. She had to choose one. All had to do with environmental issues and/or political issues with the environment. Also on the list were Silent Spring by Rachael Carson, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez.
Yes, I have read all of them. Everyone should read all of them. I told my child to read all of them.
Then she said, “Mom, I only have to read one.”
“Then read Desert Solitare. That book changes lives. They all do, but read that one first.”
Then we talked about our trip to Arches National Park a few years ago. I told her how much the surrounding area and Moab have changed since Edward Abby wrote his classic book.
Desert Solitaire is a collection of treatises and autobiographical excerpts describing Abbey’s experiences as a park ranger and wilderness enthusiast in 1956 and 1957. The opening chapters, First Morning and Solitaire, focus on the author’s experiences arriving at and creating a life within Arches National Monument. In this early period the park is relatively undeveloped: road access and camping facilities are basic, and there is a low volume of tourist traffic.
Desert Solitaire depicts Abbey’s preoccupation with the deserts of the American Southwest. He describes how the desert affects society and more specifically the individual on a multifaceted, sensory level.
“A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
From the National Book Award-winning author of the now-classic Arctic Dreams, a vivid, poetic, capacious work that recollects the travels around the world and the encounters–human, animal, and natural–that have shaped an extraordinary life.
This Book Club isn’t so much about what I’ve read, but about what I’m reading now, or will be reading soon. Like most of you, I have a big stack of to-read books, as well as a long list of to-read books.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman