The Monkey-Wrench Gang
Probably the second-best book I’ve ever read about ecoterrorism.1 Four people unite out of love for the American Southwest and its rivers, canyons, mesas, and most of all its solitude; they strike back at the American machine. Billboards are burnt, bridges blown up, long hikes through the desert to avoid the cops are taken. They do it out of love, yes, but also out of boredom, general cantankerousness, and a sense of sheer fun.
This novel elegizes the closing of the frontier and the arrival of “civilization” – though with Vietnam in the background those scare quotes do a lot of work here. The hippies, the cowboys, the squares and the mormons all get their share of jibes, but the book is full of love for big characters and the natural places that give them room to be themselves.
Oddly, Edward Abbey was recently mentioned approvingly on this podcast interview with Mencius Moldbug. The podcast is pretty right-wing and out there, the link is not an endorsement, but a hell of a surprise to hear that name.
The other is Richard Powers’ Overstory. ↩