The Monkey Wrench Gang (P.S.) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-20 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 228 user ratings

"This book is the story of four memorable characters- a foul-mouthed Vietnam vet, a redneck, a doctor, and a nurse (I think?)- who decide to travel the country and blow things up. Specifically, things like bridges, railroads, and dams; anything that they believe to be harmful to nature has to go. So essentially what we have here is Fight Club for hippies, which is exactly what I expected, being that I first heard about this one from Chuck Palahniuk himself in one of his essays. What makes The Monkey Wrench Gang work, more than anything, is its humor and its heart. Towards the beginning of the novel I was noting similarities to Pynchon, but by the end I pictured the story as a Wes Anderson film with explosions. All in all, this was a very enjoyable and unique read with a strong ending, and I would definitely recommend it." said.

"Let me just say I don't advocate blowing up dams. especially considering where I live, or driving heavy machinery over a cliff. Nonetheless it is difficult to feel anything but admiration for Edward Abbey's tale of misfit environmental terrorists. Vietnam veteran George Washing Hayduke III return to his beloved southwest only to see that it is being destroyed by corporate greed. He joins together with a band of misfits to fight back. What entails is a funny story mixing action adventure with Abbey's rapturous love with the desert. In the 70s this novel was downright incendiary. The times have diluted it and it becomes a bit more nostalgic since we know the Barbarians are not just at the gates but have stormed the fortress and taken up residence at our invitation. The Monkey Wrench Gang can be read either as an important social relic of its time or as a rousing good comedy-action book. That what makes it so good.
" said.

"Let me start by stating that I have been hesitating quite a while between granting this book the fourth star or not. Eventually I leave it at three, because I have found it somewhat irritating, tiring, maybe boring. On the other hand it has great qualities. A bit of story: I come to this book thanks to a review of books with ecologists in action only to discover that it was written in 1975 and has served to add a new phrase to the English vocabulary: monkey wrench --just as the French word sabot led one day to sabotage--. The book is wild, the characters are wilder and the action is unbelievably incredible. The book sets the foundation of modern world radical ecology-related activism, but the whole in a clearly politically incorrect way. The writing of Abbey is complicated, in terminology, but especially in references to modern lore, in expressions, in meandering while telling. His constant off road excursions get the reader glued to the book or lost in it, depending on the forces available to the reader. The story takes time to take off, but then accelerates in a comics-like sequence. Not bizarre that a version of the book was illustrated by Robert Crumb. The book deserves reading, if only because it plays a certain role in modern US literature. If you happen to know the arid Southwestern, where the action happens, all the best!" said.

"One of my three favorite books of all time, or at least one of the three that I tend to push on any of my friends who read. It is first and foremost a flat out fun book to read. Though I had little in common with the characters, and wasn't necessarily predisposed toward their political views [I probably share most of their viewpoints and values, but their issues aren't necessarily my priorities:], I liked and identified with them all and became immensely caught up in the plot. In addiion to being just an engrossing bit of fiction, the book works extremely well as a polemic, perhaps too well. Again, the issues involved are not necessarily my area of interest, at least not to the extent of being the causes for which I would be quickest to sacrifice my freedom; however, each time I've read this book I've been caught up in a desire to run out and commit some felonies. Whenever I've recommended TMWG to others, they almost always have phoned me excitedly wanting to conspire and commit. I won't say what particular directions our conversations seemed inclined to take, but if anything bad should ever happen to the Edmonston pumping station on the California Water Project, I hope my proselytyizing of Mr. Abbey's message will hve borne some distant fruit. Of course not everyone to whom I lent or recommended the book came back with the same message directly. On one occasion the callback was something like "Hey, that book you gave me. My husband just read it and he told me to tell you he wants to talk with you about it. But fist I need some legal advice. Hypothetically, would I be alloowed to sign up for conjugal visits with both of you?". " said.

"I took this one on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. It was the perfect read for the setting -- or would have been if I'd have been able to read more than 2 - 3 pages each night before the sun set (headlamp batteries must be saved for emergencies). And if I were a guy. And it were still the 70s or maybe 80s. I love Abbey's Desert Solitaire so much, but something about this novel rubbed me the wrong way at times. Mostly the childish, objectified Bonnie. Also, the radical "save the earth by blowing things up" message just doesn't have the same resonance after 9/11, you know?

But then one of the desert descriptions, a snark on Utah, or some shard of Abbey's dark wit (or one of his stupid puns, God bless him) would make me smile and keep me reading. Some of the best bits are the meta-appearances of Park Ranger Edwin Abbott, the handsome, young and officious nuisance who appears occasionally to arrest the Gang for stealing raw meat or carrying dynamite.

And yet... as you float down a beautiful canyon, past three sites where dams were *nearly* built, and Redwall Cavern and Vasey's Paradise and Havasu Creek, and you think about Glen Canyon now buried under the silt of Lake Powell, you have to wonder was lost forever. So as a mere individual I really do get the gut of this book -- the frustration of powerlessness and the desire to wreck industry the way it has wrecked nature. So this is basically a fantasy novel in that respect (and also due to those rather nauseating hookups the male characters all either have or fantasize about with the one female).

All the outdoorsy guys I know love this one, and I can totally see why.

P.S. For the record, as of July 2014, that infamous coal elevator and automated train serving the power plant in Page, AZ, are still very much in operation some 40 years later, as witnessed by yours truly. Though perhaps the end for it is near: Well, maybe in 30 more years.
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" Abbey is my favorite author and MWG is a gem. It was wonderful to spend some time with Doc, Hayduke, Smith, and Abbzug again. I wish... " said.

"I don't know...this book really is funny at times, and he has a very engrossing (if at times somewhat exhaustive) way of describing the southwest landscape; however, it's really just too long and rambling and boring for me. Plus, I wasn't quite sure what to do with the casual racism and sexism that's sprinkled throughout the book. I know Abbey was a satirist, so perhaps there is an element of satire involved in pointing out the racism of the white characters on both sides of the conflict (the developers/capitalists and the eco-anarchists). But it wasn't overtly critiqued either. So that's troublesome." said.

"Abbey's descriptions of the American badlands are at times vivid and stark, and his passion for nature really shines through. One of the key flaws for me was the one dimensional set of main characters, two of which I couldn't tell apart unless by name and the other two whose defining features were that one of them was the only woman in the group and the other was a doctor, referred to as "Doc" at every turn. Other than a few edge-of-the-seat moments where the gang destroy bridges or high tail it from the authorities in the name of saving the landscape that the author rightly describes with such relish, there's not a great deal of depth to get stuck into. " said.

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