In 2022, the ELS Book Club is using a “Book Pairing” format and meeting every other month. These pairings will offer complimentary, counterpart, or continuing perspectives on common themes. Read both books or the one that interests you most and join our virtual discussion! In February, we’ll be reading Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire and Amy Irvine’s Desert Cabal.
Abbey’s Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself based on the author’s time as a park ranger and conservationist. This celebrated environmental classic reflects on the desert as a paradox, beautiful and liberating, but also isolating and cruel.
In Desert Cabal, Amy Irvine admires Abbey (who influenced her life and work) while challenging offensive or outdated elements of Desert Solitaire. Irvine celebrates the lens through which Abbey taught so many to love the wilderness while showing us that the desert’s defenders are more nuanced and numerous than Abbey’s Solitaire. “Desert Cabal has riled up some Abbey fans, but that’s exactly what makes it an important read.” – Outside Magazine
We will be joined by Shari Zollinger, Events Manager for Back of Beyond Books. Named for a reference to Abbey’s works and situated in Moab, the iconic setting for both works, Back of Beyond Books co-published Irvine’s work as part of their 50th Anniversary retrospective on Desert Solitaire. Ms. Zollinger will share thoughts and insights about Abbey’s work and the contribution of Desert Cabal to that legacy.