Monday, December 15, 2008

Edward Abbey & Eliot Porter

I forget exactly how I first came across Edward Abbey, it was so long ago. But this dog-eared paperback copy of Desert Solitaire was the first one I found somewhere right around the end of highschool, this printing was from October 1977. And while looking up the printing date on the back of the title page, I just noticed a detail that had escaped me all these years and all the times I've read this book... the cover photograph here was done by Eliot Porter. Well, I said earlier that sometimes I'm a little slow... anyway, I'll do a double shot of free advertising here : please go straight to or other bookseller, and order all of Abbey's books, and all of Eliot Porter's too, while you are at it, you won't regret it. Excellent reading and excellent photos. To give you a little taste of why I love Edward Abbey's writing so much, here is one short paragraph from Desert Solitaire where he is discussing the Native American art that can be found on rock faces in the canyon country of Southern Utah :

"One thing is certain, the pre-Columbian Indians of the Southwest, whether hunting, making arrowpoints, going on salt-gathering expeditions or otherwise engaged, clearly enjoyed plenty of leisure time. This speaks well of the food-gathering economy and also of its culture, which encouraged the Indians to employ their freedom in the creation and sharing of a durable art. Unburdened by the necessity of devoting most of their lives to the production, distribution, sale and servicing of labor-saving machinery, lacking proper recreational facilities, these primitive savages were free to do that which comes as naturally to men as making love -- making graven images. But now they are gone..."

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