cover image Hayduke Lives!

Hayduke Lives!

Edward Abbey. Little Brown and Company, $18.45 (308pp) ISBN 978-0-316-00411-4

Only apparently was Fool's Progress , a flawed but highly endearing novel, Abbey's swan song (he died last summer). Here, unexpectedly, is a posthumous sequel to the cult classic The Monkey Wrench Gang , unhappily, not the finest of farewells from a very original American writer. It is the sort of sequel that picks up all the characters years later; most of them--Doc, Bonnie, even Seldom Seen Smith--have more or less settled into respectability after their wild outrages against developers and ruiners of the Great Outdoors. Then along comes GOLIATH, the Giant Earth Mover, about to trample another precious wild canyon, and the fiercest of the old gang, George Hayduke, brings his friends unwillingly out of retirement for the biggest caper of their lives. It's ditzy, entertaining stuff, and Abbey, as always, strikes wonderful grace notes off the landscapes he loves. But the characters are a yard high, and the dialogue the sort that appears in bubbles over people's heads. Naturally the G.E.M. bites the dust, but in the course of the environmentalists' coup a man gets killed, contradicting what used to be the whole point of Abbey's writing: only machines died. This time out, his work seems a little sour and tired. (Jan.)