The Fool's Progress

The Fool's Progress

A Novel

Book - 1988
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Baker & Taylor
Henry Lightcap, a man facing a terminal illness, sets out on a trip across America accompanied only by his dog, Solstice, and discovers the beauty and majesty of the Southwest

McMillan Palgrave

The Fool's Progress, the "fat masterpiece" as Edward Abbey labeled it, is his most important piece of writing: it reveals the complete Ed Abbey, from the green grass of his memory as a child in Appalachia to his approaching death in Tuscon at age sixty two.

When his third wife abandons him in Tucson, boozing, misanthropic anarchist Henry Holyoak Lightcap shoots his refrigerator and sets off in a battered pick-up truck for his ancestral home in West Virginia. Accompanied only by his dying dog and his memories, the irascible warhorse (a stand-in for the "real" Abbey) begins a bizarre cross-country odyssey--determined to make peace with his past--and to wage one last war against the ravages of "progress."

"A profane, wildly funny, brash, overbearing, exquisite tour de force." -- The Chicago Tribune

& Taylor

After his third wife leaves him and he shoots his refrigerator, drunken, cynical anarchist Henry Holyroak Lightcap and his dying dog embark on an outlandish journey to West Virginia to atone for past mistakes and to battle the destructive forces of "progress." Reprint. 20,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Holt, c1988
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780805057911
Branch Call Number: F
Characteristics: 485 p. ; 24 cm


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Jul 27, 2017

A rollicking, poignant, well written narrative, probably best avoided by religionists, latte sucking city slickers and dollar worshippers.

Loved it and will be sure to read his other books.

Jun 30, 2015

“There’s a quality of enthusiasm in you, Mr. Lightcap, that suggests madness.”
I recently read "All the Wilderness that Remains," a book about Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner (Abbey was a writing student of Stegner's), and their vision of the American West, which led me to pick up this "honest" novel, the final book of his to be published before his death in 1989 (I'm excluding post-humus works). Abbey is one of American lit's great iconoclasts, whose greatest subject was, like Whitman, himself. He wrote both fiction and non-fiction and his most famous novel, "The Monkey Wrench Gang" is credited with kick starting the radical environmental group Earth First. Often compared to Thoreau, he was a hard living, hard drinking man of contradictions, who passionately loved the West, but wasn't always an easy person to love. Despite his liberal credentials, he was something of a womanizer, a gun enthusiast, and had occasional remarks that could be taken as racist or sexist. These contradictions are part of his appeal and this book, which, he called "a fat masterpiece," presents the Abbey-esque figure of Henry Lightcap and his picaresque adventures and mis-adventures. If you haven't read Abbey, I wouldn't start with this one. If you have, I'd suggest reading it outdoors with a cigar and a drink. It's frustrating and self-indulgent at times, but also passionate, funny, opinionated, and bursting with life.


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