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**CLPRA scripts are working drafts for recording sessions. Recorded performances may vary due to editing for broadcast.**
Edward Abbey (1927-89) | 2 Scripts Click the below to hear radio segment.
Approaching Los Angeles
From Desert Solitaire, 1968. Reader: Wm Leslie Howard

Desert Solitaire, first edition book jacket, 1968.
Southern California had a reputation for smokey air even in the early days of Spanish exploration. But as writer Edward Abbey describes it, the poisonous air of Los Angeles foretells an ominous fate.

On a trip to Los Angeles with friends, Cactus Ed Abbey decides to turn aside for a detour in Havasu Canyon. Fourteen days later, his companions have moved on, leaving Abbey short of his destination.
. . . I have not seen the fabulous city on the Pacific shore. Perhaps I never will. There's something in the prospect southwest from Barstow which makes one hesitate. Although recently, driving my own truck, I did succeed in penetrating as close as San Bernardino. But was hurled back by what appeared to be clouds of mustard gas rolling in from the west on a very broad front. Thus failed again. It may be however that Los Angeles will come to me. Will come to all of us, as it must (they say) to all men.
Edward Abbey's influential works—like Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang—have provoked strong feelings. They have inspired countless readers concerned by the loss of American wilderness; at the same time, they have alarmed others, who find Abbey's complaints about land development too severe.

Gravel Gulch
From The Journey Home, 1977. Reader: Kevin Hearle

View from Artist's Drive, Death Valley National Park. Larger.
It's almost cliché to assert that despite appearances to the contrary, the desert is full of life. But how hard are we supposed to look, anyway?

Edward Abbey knew about the life in Death Valley as well as any naturalist, but even so, he was still overwhelmed by the impression that the place was a dead wasteland.
. . . there is life out there, life of a sparse but varied sort—salt grass and pickleweed on the flats, far-spaced clumps of creosote, salt-bush, desert holly brittlebush, and prickly poppy on the fans. Not much of anything, but a little of each. And in the area as a whole, including the surrounding mountains up to the eleven-thousand-foot summit of Telescope Peak, the botanists count a total of nine hundred to a thousand different species, ranging from microscopic forms of algae in the salt pools to limber pine and the ancient bristlecone pine on the peaks.

But the impression remains a just one. Despite variety, most of the surface of Death Valley is dead. Dead, dead, deathly—a land of jagged salt pillars, crackling and tortured crusts of mud, sunburnt gravel bars the color of rust, rocks and boulders of metallic blue naked even of lichen. Death Valley is Gravel Gulch.
Edward Abbey's portrait of Death Valley appears in his 1977 book, The Journey Home.