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Black Sun: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Black Sun: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Edward Abbey(Author),John Nichols(Foreword)

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Now in a Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition, the timeless novel that chronicles a reckless romance in the wilderness, from Edward Abbey, one of America’s foremost defenders of the natural environment.

Black Sun is a bittersweet love story involving an iconoclastic forest ranger and a freckle-faced “American princess” half his age. Like Lady Chatterley’s lover, he initiates her into the rites of sex and the stark, secret harmonies of his wilderness kingdom. She, in turn, awakens in him the pleasure of love. Then she mysteriously disappears, plunging him into desolation.

Black Sun is a singular novel in Abbey’s repertoire, a romantic story of a solitary man’s passion for the outdoors and for a woman who is his wilderness muse.

“Like most honest novels, Black Sun is partly autobiographical, mostly invention, and entirely true. The voice that speaks in this book is the passionate voice of the forest,” Abbey writes, “the madness of desire, and the joy of love, and the anguish of final loss.”

6 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Black Sun is a bittersweet love story involving an iconoclastic forest ranger and a freckle-faced "American princess" half his age. Like Lady Chatterley's lover, he initiates her into the rites of sex and the stark, secret harmonies of his wilderness. She, in turn, awakens in him the pleasure of love. Then she mysteriously disappears, plunging him into desolation. Black Sun is a singular novel in Abbey's repertoire, a romantic story of a solitary man's passion for the outdoors and for a woman who is seeing the natural world's true colors for the first time. "Like most honest novels, Black Sun is partly autobiographical, mostly invention, and entirely true. The voice that speaks in this book is the passionate voice of the forest," Abbey writes, "the madness of desire, and the joy of love, and the anguish of final loss."Edward Abbey spent most of his life in the American Southwest. He was the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the celebrated Desert Solitaire, which decried the waste of America's wilderness, and the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, the title of which is still in use today to describe groups that purposefully sabotage projects and entities that degrade the environment. Abbey was also one of the country's foremost defenders of the natural environment. He died in 1989. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Review Text

  • By Mark Stevens on November 18, 2012

    Will Gaitlin is a stone cold stoic, a self-critical ex-teacher who has practically gone feral. His sole responsibility is a big one, spotting smoke or forest fires from a tower, but it requires minimal human contact. He lets us in on scant information from his past, just scraps. He's more interested in the deer in the woods, the shadows. When he thinks something, what we see are his actions.Art Ballantine, who thinks nature is where you throw your beer cans, wants Gaitlin to come back to civilization before he dies. But Will Gaitlin isn't going anywhere. Gaitlin knows it, we know it. These two are an unlikely pair, but their exchanges are very funny. Ballantine's gruff and macho letters to Gaitlin form a kind of comic relief to this brief novel.A young womanenters the picture and Will Gaitlin is transfixed and transformed, albeit in his deeply cool way. Sandy, with the sweater and the kilt and sipping Cokes through a straw. "He watched the light glistening in the deep copper-colored masses of her hair." While Will is certain of his physical yearnings, he's reluctant to open up. He fears committing to a version of events."Admiring the span and arch of her brown eyebrows, the subtle blue shading of her eyelids, her fresh translucent skin, the pulse at the bottom of her throat. Told her not the whole story, of course, but an outline of it, a diagram. The words as always so poor an imitation of the reality; not even in fact an imitation at all but a different reality, making what little he remembered of his life something apart and separate, in a different world."Sandy slips away. Gaitlin's search for her is beautiful, haunting, heartfelt. It's desperate but also, somehow, not. The search in the blazing heat is for her--but also for himself. Looking in the vast "inferno" of the desert is an "act of insanity" but he can't imagine doing anything else.Gaitlin is out in here in the desert in part, we learn, because as a teacher he had learned how much he didn't know. This is the real emptiness Gaitlin feels, that ever-present sense of how much else is out there. Things he doesn't know.The writing is beautiful, as spare and clean as the landscape. It's hard not to read this without thinking of the irascible Edward Abbey from Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang. There's plenty of connective tissue between those two books and this fiction. I try to imagine if this book was published today by an unknown writer--would it stand up? Would it a publisher recognize its strengths? I'd like to think so.Abbey said he wrote this book in hopes to capture "that sound the wind makes wailing through the wailing pines.""Black Sun" is an elegant but brisk novel and it makes us feel like we can see things too, deep down in the shadows.

  • By MFPA on May 15, 2017

    ***Spoiler Alert***So I don't usually write reviews, but I can't help it with this book because every review I read of it seems to miss what I felt was the point of the book. Hey, maybe I'm wrong, but until I came to this conclusion I honestly thought this book was pointless, and perhaps even a little embarrassing for such a fantastic writer. Some passages had me asking, really? Isn't he just a bit ashamed of this obvious old man fantasy or whatever? And then I realized I'm only a year younger than the main character so perhaps I might want to think a little deeper.Hitting my mid-30s honestly does feel a little old. Not because I am truly old, but I'm not young anymore. And I think that is really what this is all about. A man, over the hump of youth, has a few kids, an ex-wife who no longer inspires him, has grown world weary and tired of the repetition of history, etc. etc. Retreat to the woods to get away from it. And along comes youth. The intoxication of youth, the memory of who we all once were when the world was big and amazing and new and our whole lives were ahead of us.In this way, Sandy is a merely a representation of the most basic of the elements of youth - innocence, physical ability, virginity, curiosity, recklessness, needing direction from those older, etc. And Will is the washed up older guy who forgot all of that, but in becoming her teacher, so to speak, he could almost - almost - relive a youthful experience. Feel alive again.And this is why he doesn't marry her, doesn't commit. As much as he loves her, or whatever it is he feels - the nostalgia, the inspiration - he knows where it's going. She'll have children, age and then end up right where he is. Where we all end up. And then what? Will he start over with another young one and play it out all over again? And again?Contrast this with Ballantine's rants about women, and you can kind of see what his general views on this were as an older guy who was unhappy in a world where women were asking to be more than wives...the subservient younger type is his type.Anyway, so she disappears in some sort of metaphorical way to explain that at age 37, like it or not, youth is OVER. Sorry people, it is. Sandy is gone because that time has gone. It's telling that at the end he jokingly orders hemlock at the restaurant. (Also, that type of woman is on the way out. They're "liberated" now. How Abbey squirms at the thought of a liberated woman - in more than just this book.) Sandy (aka his youth) is over, so why bother anymore? What more is down the pike from here? Just more aging. The inspiration of youth will never return. That, everyone, can be true despair. Man it's tough seeing more behind you than lies ahead!Am I right? I don't know. But it made sense to me. We can never go back, not even with a younger lover. Everyone ages. It's extremely pessimistic but it is the only way I can explain this book to myself. If it's not this, then it's just a dumb story about a boring middle aged man going through a mid-life crisis who had a lucky fling with a beautiful young girl and then she left and who knows what happened to her and now he's sad, waaahhhh.


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