folded corners of The Monkeywrench Gang

I’ve got into a habit of leaving all the books I’ve read badly dog-eared. When I come across a passage or qoute I want to remember, I fold the corner in the intention of rereading it later when I’m done. The problem is, I never seem to get around to it. When I finish a book I’m too fully engaged in my panicked searh for a new book for reflection.

I’ve decided to make an effort to go back over those passages from now on. Here is attempt number one. As an added impetus, I’m throwing it up on the blog here.

Attempt number one falls on The Monkeywrench Gang, by Edward Abbey. I came across an account of his burial recently, maybe in Outside magazine or Orion, and was intrigued enough that I figured the time had come to read some of his stuff. Turns out this book is probably a bad one to start out on my resolution to read the dogears, because I didn’t make very many. It was just too exciting. Most of the really good bits I was too deep into the book to remember to make note of it. But here we go anyway, with the random few passages that did get singled out.

(I should probably want to write really good books, really important insightful works that examine the human condition and leave the reader with an expanded understanding of the mystery of the life they live in. but mostly what I really want is to write books like this one – super charged intellectual action stories with funny and (anti)heroic characters and plenty of wry dialogue. maybe writing books like that should be my next resolution)

When the doctor acquired a lightweight McCulloch chain saw she learned how to operate that too, how to start it, how to oil and refuel it, how to adjust the chain wheen it became too tight or too loose. With this handy tool they were able to accomplish much more work in limited time, although it did raise the ecological question, whatever that meant, of noise and air pollution, excessive consumption of metal and energy. Endless ramifications…

“No,” the doctor said. “Forget all that. Our duty is to destroy billboards.”


“I’m thinking: Why the fuck should we trust each other? I never even met you two guys before today.”

Silence. The three men stared into the fire. The oversized surgeon. The elongated riverman. The brute from the Green Berets. A sigh. They looked at each other. And one thought: What the hell. And one thought: They look honest to me. And one thought: Men are not the enemy. Nor women either. Nor little children.

Not in sequence but in unison, as one, they smiled. At each other. The bottle made it’s penultimate round.

“What the hell,” Smith said, “we’re only talkin’.”


“…running on at maximum feasible speed plus ten…”


A true autochthonic patriot, Smith swears allegiance only to the land he knows, not to the swollen bulge of real estate, industry and swarming populations of displaced British Islanders and Europeans and misplaced Africans known collectivley as the United States; his loyalties phase out towards the boundaries of the Colorado Plateau.

Yep, that’s all I got. But there is a hundred times that many good bits, and the really good bits are better than those bits. So read it.

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