The Fool's Progress: an Honest Novel.
Despite rockets, computers, fax machines, and television, human beings need contact with other human beings. As for nature, we want to see it for ourselves, as it really is, and especially as it really was. Edward Abbey creates a character, Henry Holyoak Lightcap, who realizes most of these desires. Lightcap, a man who shoots his noisy refrigerator, embodies all our frustrations with the things of modern life that seem to keep us from each other and from nature-everything from laws to jobs.
Fool's Progress is both hilarious and disturbing. It's the kind of book, like Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, that will inspire naive readers to rage incoherently against society, engage in eco-guerilla sabotage of industry or logging operations, and expect mother nature to welcome them as the abused children of the western world. He encourages an approach to society that resembles Lightcap's solution to his refrigerator-attack it, don't fix it.
The book's title, however, suggests that even Abbey has realized that his hero's stands have the same relation to modern society as court jesters and fools had to their lords and kings. The dust jacket pictures a wandering Elizabethan fool. The reader who doesn't want to make a fool of himself will enjoy Abbey's advice.
Henry Holyoak Lightcap at 53 despairs of ever making a happy home with a wife, and he sets out to return to his family in West Virginia. As Frost said, home is a place that when you have to go there, they have to take you in. Henry knows it. That self-knowledge makes this odyssey from Tucson to the Appalachians the fulfillment of everyone's dream-that the people closest to us will forgive us our trespasses.
At his worst, Abbey is a kind of petty Walt Whitman, spewing adjectives and wallowing in the sound of his own considerable vocabulary. At his best, which flashes fulsomely in every chapter, he is full of pith and wit. What's worse, " he asks, "than a knee-jerk liberal? A knee-pad conservative. " His thrashing scorn is universal and self-inclusive. "I may be the only redneck intellectual in America who's not yet been analyzed, psychoanalyzed, rolfed, TMized, estered, sensory deprived, reborn, spinologized, and had my colon irrigated. "
Describing how Lightcap, like Abbey, spent long months in a wilderness fire tower reading, Abbey says, "He remembered best not the development of character or the unraveling of plot or the structure of an argument, but simply the quality of the author's mind." Playful and sloppy, incisive and petty, hilarious and sad-the author's mind is ultimately the most memorable thing about this book. @@070132208 1016Hhj071MAWA
Managing American Wildlife: A History of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, by Dian Olson Belanger, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA. Cloth, 247 pp., $25.
This is an informative and interesting history of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The organization has, as regular members, state and provincial agencies concerned with fish and wildlife and a small number of individual associate members. It was founded in 1902. Among numerous events throughout its history, I identify three recurring issues:
* A fight against federal and international agencies to maintain the states' legal power to regulate game, other animals, birds, and fish within respective states. The position held throughout history is that the states own the wildlife and only they have the legal power to manage wildlife. But there has been extensive cooperation with both federal and international agencies, particularly concerning migratory birds and international trade in endangered species.
*A fight against "conservation" groups, such as the Defenders of Wildlife, that sought to abolish afl hunting. The ecological absurdity of this position is stated with restraint but effectively.
* A constant struggle for funding wildlife management, including the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds derived from taxes on sporting equipment and other objects. There has been constant opposition from the Bureau of the Budget (now Office of Management and Budget) and others opposed to the earmarking of revenues for specific wildlife purposes.
Because of the numerous relationships implicit in these issues, the book is indeed a history of wildlife management in America (especially the U.S. but Canada and Mexico too). I have no doubt that others would describe some of the events differently than does this author, but her tone is calm, judicial, and factual throughout.
Appendix A, Chronology of Major Developments in the History of Fish and Wildlife Management, from 1629 to May 1986, is an especially valuable reference.
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1989|
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