Long considered an underground classic, The Journey Home stands beside Desert Solitaire as one of Abbey's most important works. In a voice edged eith chagrin, Abbey offers a portrait of the American West that readers will not soon forget, presenting the reflections and observations of a man who left the urban world behind in pursuit of the natural one and the myths buried therein.
"I am not a naturalist. I never was and never will be a naturalist." So Ed Abbey opens The Journey Home, a collection of essays that turns every page or two to some aspect of the natural history of the desert West. Abbey had recently been compared to Henry Thoreau as a writer who had made a home both literary and real in the wild, and he was having none of it: he wanted to be thought of as a novelist and environmental activist, not as the author of gentle essays on self-sufficiency and the turn of the seasons. The Journey Home is thus full of politically charged, often enraged essays on such matters as urban growth ("The Blob Comes to Arizona"), the gentrification of the small-town West ("Telluride Blues--A Hatchet Job"), and wilderness preservation ("Let Us Now Praise Mountain Lions"). He raised a few hackles with this book, but he also found many devoted readers, fans who wanted and got an update of and rejoinder to Abbey's Desert Solitaire. Agree with him or not, you can't fault Abbey for his honest self-assessment: "I am--really am--an extremist," he wrote, "one who lives and loves by choice far out on the very verge of things, on the edge of the abyss, where this world falls into the depths of the other. That's the way I like it." --Gregory McNamee