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Le Gang de la Clef à Molette by…

Le Gang de la Clef à Molette (original 1975; edition 2006)

by Edward Abbey, Robert Redford (Préface), Pierre Guillaumin (Traduction)

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2,332394,084 (3.96)71
Title:Le Gang de la Clef à Molette
Authors:Edward Abbey
Other authors:Robert Redford (Préface), Pierre Guillaumin (Traduction)
Info:Editions Gallmeister (2006), Edition: 1, Broché, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, Wishlist

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The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey (1975)


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» See also 71 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
There are two ways to review this book.

One, as a novel. Edwards Abbey writes a blazing, funny, madcap zany story of a group of four anarchist friends, hell-bent to stop the development of the southwest wilderness by crushing dams, bridges, power plants and anything else they can. On the run from the local Mormon do-gooder Search&Rescue crew, the FBI, the National Park Service and anybody else they run into, the quartet is likeable, entertaining and extremely enjoyable.

The dialogue is massive. Dialogue drives the book, and it never clunks and is often wildly witty. There are more turns of phrase that make you gasp and laugh than anything else I've read.

The one female character is written perhaps a bit more sexist than you would find today, though she is certainly her own woman. The three men are all unique and grand personalities.

Monkey Wrench Gang compares well to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - less trippy, but just as grand and impactful. Less weird, more witty.

Second, as a call-to-arms for environmental anarchism: I suspect that to some, this novel is dangerous. The characters should be darker, less idealistic. The impact of their approach should be interpreted more brutally.


I think the novel provides a challenging commentary on American consumerism and our unwillingness to stop and consider the cost of our lifestyle. That it's packaged in a fun adventure story with amazing dialogue makes it all the more subversive. ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
There is no doubt that this is a terrifically exciting adventure novel: the chase and escape scenes are so intense it is incredible that Hollywood has not yet made the film. Hayduke's disappearing acts are outrageous. The eco-sabotage plot is 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' on acid.

But as I reread it I'm struck by its literary qualities too.

The metaphors are fresh: a boulder levered down a mountainside bounces from ledge to ledge like a jackrabbit. "Great blue herons once descended, light as mosquitoes, long legs dangling, to the sandbars." Just the right choice of similes.

The writing creates so many different tones: pastoral, profound, ironic, cutting, sometimes in immediate and absurdist counterpoint: "... While outside in the fields of desert summer the melons ripened at their leisure in the nest of their vines, and a restless rooster, perched on the roof of the hencoop, fired his premature ejaculation at the waning moon, and in the pasture the horses lifted noble Roman heads to stare in the night at something humans cannot see."

The presentation of the landscape comes from deep knowledge: this is no research-project novel but one of real familiarity with its desert setting and the human society there. Who but somebody who knew their patch of nature implicitly would imagine a depiction of animals such as this: "One thin scream came floating down, like a feather, from the silver-clouded sky. Hawk. Redtail, solitaire, one hawk passing far above the red reef, above the waves of Triassic sandstone, with a live snake clutched in its talons. The snake wriggled, casually, as it was borne away to a different world. Lunchtime."

The characters are described in glorious colour, even the supporting roles: our protagonists' enemy, the Mormon Bishop Love, is bishop “on Sundays and Wednesday church-study nights only. Rest of the time he’s neck deep in real estate, uranium, cattle, oil, gas, tourism, most anything that smells like money. That man can hear a dollar bill drop on a shag rug. Now he’s running for the state legislature. We got plenty like him in Utah. They run things. They run things as best they can for God and Jesus, and what them two don’t want why fellas like Bishop Love pick up."

It conjures personalities that feel original and distinctive, that stand out from the society around them and have their individual points of view: "'You can never go wrong cuttin' fence,' repeated Smith, warming to his task. (Pling!) 'Always cut fence. That's the law west of the 100th meridian. East of that don't matter none. Back there it's all lost anyhow. But west, we cut fence.'"

It is a novel of depth of feeling expressing itself in uncompromising bluntness: behind the great damnation, the Glen Canyon Dam, lies "Lake Powell: storage pond, silt trap, evaporation tank and garbage dispose-all, a 180-mile-long incipient sewage lagoon."

It punctures American pretensions without compunction: "“What’s more American than violence?” Hayduke wanted to know. “Violence, it’s as American as pizza pie.” “Chop suey,” said Bonnie. “Chile con carne.” “Bagels and lox.”"

All this excitement, character, humour, irony, poignancy, knowledge compressed into a thrilling adventure story: that's why it's my favourite novel.

P.S. Two women blogged and photographed their epic hike through and between the national parks in the canyonlands in honour of Hayduke: https://hayduketrail.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/ ( )
  wa233 | Oct 26, 2018 |
I vaguely remember reading Abbey's novel when it first came out in the 1970s. Rereading it, it did not live up to expectations; there is something dated about the whole enterprise, from Abbey's cardboard characters (particularly the villain) to the wreckage of the landscape in order to destroy machinery that is wrecking the landscape. I know this novel inspired a number of ecological and environmental movements, but still, it's just not up to his non-fiction, especially "Desert Solitaire". ( )
  nmele | Sep 18, 2018 |
Apparently, this is a book that many eco-activists use as there go to guide for stopping large, environmentally unfriendly projects, either public or private. I don't know how much of this type of activity is done today, however, I really would applaud the destruction of bill boards...

As for the story itself, we have a bunch of loner type characters, from Hayduke, a Vietnam Vet, who came home with a felling of not belonging, and needing a purpose. Than there is "Seldom Seen" Smith, a Semi Morman with three wives. He runs a rafting business, and is upset about the damming of his river. There is Dr. Sarvis who is a middle aged doctor with a vendetta against billboards, and his lovely assistant, lover, keeper, and all around gal, Bonnie Abbzug. She is originally from New Jersey, and is looking for purpose, just like the rest of the gang.

Overall - this is a funny book. From the Morman criminal patrol, trying to catch them, to the lengths Hayduke will go to get revenge on a (possibly) false arrest. At times it is sad, plowing over beautiful, untouched land. Over all, a well written book. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Apr 14, 2018 |
good enough for a re-read. ( )
  craig5373 | Nov 24, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edward Abbeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abbey, Edwardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Brinkley, DouglasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crumb, R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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". . . but oh my desert
yours is the only death I cannot bear." - Richard Shelton

"Resist much. Obey little." - Walt Whitman

"Now. Or never." - Thoreau

"sabotage . . . n. [Fr. < sabot, awooden shoe + AGE from damage done to machinery by sabots] . . . ." - Webster's New World Dictionary
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061129763, Paperback)

Ed Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang, his 1975 novel, a "comic extravaganza." Some readers have remarked that the book is more a comic book than a real novel, and it's true that reading this incendiary call to protect the American wilderness requires more than a little of the old willing suspension of disbelief. The story centers on Vietnam veteran George Washington Hayduke III, who returns to the desert to find his beloved canyons and rivers threatened by industrial development. On a rafting trip down the Colorado River, Hayduke joins forces with feminist saboteur Bonnie Abbzug, wilderness guide Seldom Seen Smith, and billboard torcher Doc Sarvis, M.D., and together they wander off to wage war on the big yellow machines, on dam builders and road builders and strip miners. As they do, his characters voice Abbey's concerns about wilderness preservation ("Hell of a place to lose a cow," Smith thinks to himself while roaming through the canyonlands of southern Utah. "Hell of a place to lose your heart. Hell of a place... to lose. Period"). Moving from one improbable situation to the next, packing more adventure into the space of a few weeks than most real people do in a lifetime, the motley gang puts fear into the hearts of their enemies, laughing all the while. It's comic, yes, and required reading for anyone who has come to love the desert. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:49 -0400)

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In the author's classic novel of environmental activism, four rebels declare war on stripminers, clear-cutters, and othe destroyers of the environment and raiders of natural resources.

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