Posted by Roger Boylan on Saturday, January 29, 2011
Well, well. Seems that today's the birthday of Edward Abbey, the inspired looney anarcho-ecologist, prophet of the American West, author of Desert Solitaire and The Monkey-Wrench Gang...and fellow University of Edinburgh alumnus. I read and thoroughly enjoyed his Fool's Progress, in which his love of the vast emptiness of the American West is at loggerheads with his reluctant nostalgia for the older worlds of the Northeast and, especially, Europe; his protagonist listens to Mahler while dirving his old Ford pickup eastward through the night. Abbey died at 62, after a hard life of hard living. His final instructions said it all:
He wanted his body transported in the bed of a pickup truck. He wanted to be buried as soon as possible. He wanted no undertakers. No embalming, for Godsake! No coffin. Just an old sleeping bag... Disregard all state laws concerning burial. "I want my body to help fertilize the growth of a cactus or cliff rose or sagebrush or tree." said the message. As for his funeral: He wanted gunfire, and a little music. "No formal speeches desired, though the deceased will not interfere if someone feels the urge. But keep it all simple and brief." And then a big happy raucous wake. He wanted more music, gay and lively music. He wanted bagpipes. "And a flood of beer and booze!..."