Desert Solitaire is an incredible book written by Edward Abbey. This book is based off of his time as a park ranger at Arches National Park which is right by Moab, Utah. I love this genre of nature writing and have read many other books of the like. He lives in a house trailer that was provided by the park service.
I found Abbey’s writing to be rather comedic, for instance when he writes about how Floyd gave him a silver badge that he is supposed to wear, and can use to arrest malefactors and evildoers. He writes “I place both Floyd and Merle under arrest at once, urging them to stay and have supper with me” (Abbey 12). He just seems to be a very lighthearted person, or at least he writes as though he is.
One of my favorite lines from the book is when Abbey is discussing the use of a flashlight, “There’s another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If i switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light which it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary” (Abbey 13).
I found this line to be especially compelling. I thought back to the multiple times that I have camped and how if I do any sort of camping trip the only “mechanical gadgets” I bring are a headlamp and a camping stove and a lighter, not to light fires but in case bow drilling fails.
I think one of the more saddening parts of the book, yet a part that is nonetheless realistic of the outdoors and the problems that people can encounter is when Abbey has to assist the authorities in locating a man who was missing. This was a rather sad part of the book as it turns out that the man was dead. This part of the book was super realistic because death in the wilderness is mostly avoidable, yet it does happen from time to time.
Illinois’ only National Scenic River has toxic waste seeping into it. This comes seven years after Dynegy Inc. scrapped one of the last coal plants in downstate Illinois.