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The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel [Paperback]

Edward Abbey
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 15 1998
When his third wife abandons him in Tucson, boozing, misanthropic anarchist Henry Holyoak Lightcap shoots his refrigerator and sets off in a battered pick-up truck for his ancestral home in West Virginia. Accompanied only by his dying dog and his memories, the irascible warhorse (a stand-in for the "real" Abbey) begins a bizarre cross-country odyssey--determined to make peace with his past--and to wage one last war against the ravages of "progress."

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The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel + Desert Solitaire + The Monkey Wrench Gang
Price For All Three: CDN$ 40.93

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From Amazon

Just before he died in 1989, Ed Abbey published what he called his "honest novel," one loosely based on his own life. Early in its opening pages, Abbey's alter ego, Lightcap, takes off from his nearly empty home (its contents just removed by a disgruntled spouse) in Tucson, Arizona--but not before shooting his refrigerator, a hated symbol of civilization. Lightcap makes a winding journey by car to his boyhood home in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania, calling on old friends along the road, visiting Indian reservations and out-of-the-way bars, and reminiscing about the triumphs and follies of his life. Readers would be mistaken to view this as pure autobiography, but The Fool's Progress nonetheless is an illuminating look into Abbey's time and his way of thinking, especially on matters of ecology and other social issues. It's also a picaresque tale humorously and artfully told, a book that Abbey himself rightly regarded as one of his best works of fiction. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

In a wild, picaresque novel, nature-loving Henry Lightcap makes a despairing odyssey across a lovely but ruined land from Tucson, Ariz., to the Appalachian family farm g run by his brother; penniless, Henry has nowhere else to go. PW found this "as absurdly moving as anything you have read in years." (July)Penny, do you have a copy of this?robin
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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...slamming the door behind her. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncommon Beauty Oct. 24 2003
Format:Paperback
After his third wife leaves him, Henry hops in his truck, his dying dog following faithfully behind, and travels east, (from his small home in Arizona), to the place of his childhood. As he travels, he reminisces upon his past life and past loves. A man unwilling to submit to society, Henry and his beautiful character give a valuable lesson to the reader. Learn from it.
As the book progresses, you learn more and more about Henry, (Henry may be a fool, but Henry is far wiser than the worker in the cubicle). Flirtatious, he is quick to fall deeply in love; extremist, does anything to protect the wilderness; and extravagant, he's a philosopher with no job. He values freedom more than anything else ... and NOT the kind must Americans think of. He takes the freedom to sleep miles from the city, under the stars, for most of the year and to pee in sinks. He takes the freedom to carry around a knife and gut his own goat. He takes the freedom to never have a full time job. (Americans usually take the "freedom" to own a house, SUV, a wife, two happy kids, a stable job and have no ambition other than to retire). He has a love for the West, for the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, the geological formations and the multi-cultural people of Albuquerque. Edward Abbey himself is so present in this novel ... you could call it autobiographical.
This book can tell you so much ... please learn from it. But it's beauty is unusual. I admired Abbey's writing before I read this, but he sweeps up all the common archetypes of literature and life, and puts them all in one classic novel.
Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing last autobiographical novel May 25 2000
Format:Paperback
Edward Abbey died in March of 1989. In the latter part of 1988, he saw his last and perhaps most accomplished work brought to bed at his publishers in New York. The author of many highly controversial works of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his seemingly solitary stand against the ecological destruction of the western American deserts, Abbey's last book effectively completed a cycle. At the same time it was a very close foretelling of his own probable doom.
Abbey was an environmentalist from the beginning. In the East of his youth, he saw strip mines close in on his father's mountain acres. Out West, he witnessed the early preparations being made to dam the Colorado and its tributaries. He rafted down Glen Canyon and saw the hidden valleys filled with a beauty that was soon after to be engulfed. He smelt out the tricky political deals being woven by senators and landowners in the forgotten tracts of the butte country and did his best to expose them. Against all of the attempts to tame this corner of the American wilderness, Abbey railed.
In books ranging from "Desert Solitaire" (1967), a journal of a season in the desert, to "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (1975), an explosive novel of saboteurs versus dambuilders, Abbey argues his points in favour of preserving the canyon country. Having been there "before" and "after," his voice has a compelling authority. To read his account of Glen Canyon before the dam is to be filled with regret at the later spoliation.
In "The Fool's Progress," Abbey gives us something of a summing up of his own life. The book is like a reverse history of Kerouac's "On the Road.
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Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing last autobiographical novel May 16 2000
Format:Paperback
Edward Abbey died in March of 1989. In the latter part of 1988, he saw his last and perhaps most accomplished work brought to bed at his publishers in New York. The author of many highly controversial works of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his seemingly solitary stand against the ecological destruction of the western American deserts, Abbey's last book effectively completed a cycle. At the same time it was a very close foretelling of his own probable doom.
Abbey was an environmentalist from the beginning. In the East of his youth, he saw strip mines close in on his father's mountain acres. Out West, he witnessed the early preparations being made to dam the Colorado and its tributaries. He rafted down Glen Canyon and saw the hidden valleys filled with a beauty that was soon after to be engulfed. He smelt out the tricky political deals being woven by senators and landowners in the forgotten tracts of the butte country and did his best to expose them. Against all of the attempts to tame this corner of the American wilderness, Abbey railed.
In books ranging from "Desert Solitaire" (1967), a journal of a season in the desert, to "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (1975), an explosive novel of saboteurs versus dambuilders, Abbey argues his points in favour of preserving the canyon country. Having been there "before" and "after," his voice has a compelling authority. To read his account of Glen Canyon before the dam is to be filled with regret at the later spoliation.
In "The Fool's Progress," Abbey gives us something of a summing up of his own life. The book is like a reverse history of Kerouac's "On the Road.
Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good novel about life's journey.
This was Abbey's second-to-last novel, and should be known as his swan song. It is about a dying man, and his journey backwards through time and space, to his beginnings. Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by Peter LaPrade
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK
There aren't a lot of books that you read in your life that stay with you for very long. This is one that does. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2003 by M. Chesnut
5.0 out of 5 stars Live. At least until you die.
This is one of the best and most memorable books I've read (having just finished it for the second time). Read more
Published on May 15 2003 by Andrew Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book by a Fascinating Man
I recently read this book for the second time after ten years had passed from my first encounter with Edward Abbey. Without a doubt this is the best book I have read in years. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2002 by Steven Christensen
5.0 out of 5 stars My Most Favorite Book
I could spend a long time writing about all the wonderful aspects of this book. In one sitting, it can make you laugh so hard you'll nearly pee your pants, then sob aloud. Read more
Published on May 10 2002 by Lori F.
5.0 out of 5 stars just read it
the fool's progress is brilliant. abbey is a lyrical muse with blisters on his feet and gravel in his mouth. time has polished the gravel.
Published on May 2 2001 by gefunden
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book
This is literally the best book I've ever read. I enjoy all of Abbey's books and this one ranks above them all.
Published on May 23 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read.
Being an avid reader, I've read all of the "great works" -- from Socrates and Plato to Steinbeck and Hemingway -- and this is the best fiction/philosophy that I've ever... Read more
Published on March 26 2000 by Andrew List
5.0 out of 5 stars From one redneck to another
Edward Abbey's voice is unstoppable in this almost broodish transverse through his own personal lifetime. Read more
Published on March 4 2000 by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars Abbey throws it all into this one
I'm a bit of an Abbey fanatic, so this review is naturally biased. Yet, this is probably the best of his fictional works (of course the book is quite autobiographical too). Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2000 by Paco Raul
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