Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about this novel. Abbey is an interesting character, and I connected with him on several of his views, but he frequently contradicted himself. While at first–when he was trying to describe the desert and its inhabitants without personifying any of them–I enjoyed the complexity of his moral situation, I soon grew tired of his voice and of his actions. I admire the effort of people to challenge their minds societal-bred habits in order to mold their actions to fit their morals, but Abbey’s inconsistency spanned a couple years and I just got annoyed. It made noticing the intricacies of his novel difficult.
I support his idea of minimal human impact upon the environment though. He was a curmudgeon, so he never seemed quite clear on the subject (switching from no impact to some impact, back and forth the entire time), but he often spoke of how humanity needs nature to survive, so we obviously will have some impact. Less development of spaces would be nice, and more protected areas that–like Arches National Monument back in Abbey’s day–only those willing to park their vehicles at the entrance and walk the rest of their stay would visit. The world is meant to change and adapt over time, so the word “preserve” doesn’t exactly fit because that impact could be just as harmful as developing. However, we do need wilderness, so we ought to stop paving everything.
Pavement is ugly anyway.