Edward Abbey lives on at the University of Utah

By: Kristin Bingham

“I am going to try to let you see Ed Abbey and Hear Ed Abbey,”said local and rare book dealer Ken Sanders.

Sanders, a member of Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, spoke to many listeners about Abbey at the event that took place in the University of Utah Gould Auditorium of the Marriott Library March 4th, 2012. Sanders is currently a full time bookseller with other works including a project on Abbey.

The event also includes an exhibit, including a 174-piece collection containing everything Ed Abbey.  The collection includes first edition publications, signed editions, contracts with publishers, magazine and news articles about Abbey as well as posters of books that have become movies. The exhibit with Abbey’s collection took place on the fourth floor after Sander’s speech.

Eric Hvolboll, Attorney and book collector, donated the 174 piece collection containing pictures, films and books of Abbey to the U of U. Hvolboll had other universities fighting over his collection like Arizona State and Standford.

“I chose Utah because it seemed like the right thing to do,” said Hvolboll.

After recognizing such an honor, Sanders began to tell the story of a true legend.

“I am going to try to let you see Ed Abbey and Hear Ed Abbey,” said Sanders as he mentioned that he has not spoken about Abbey so publically. Sanders did just that after his friends passing of about two decades ago.

Edward Abbey, an American author, passed away March 14, 1989. Even though Abbey is no longer among us, books that he wrote like The Monkey Wrench Gang still thrive about.

Throughout Abbey’s life he wrote 20+ books. Millions of copies sold.

“Ed your selling books better dead than you ever did,” said Sanders.

“The Monkey Wrench Gang”, published in 1975, one of Abbey’s most popular, caused a lot of commotion amongst readers. With characters trying to blow up Arizona’s Glen Canyon Dam, Abbey wanted it to come across satirically but to make a point as well. He wanted to enforce how important our environment is.

The Monkey Wrench Gang’s environmental content of sabotage inspired Earth First, which is a non-governmental organization formed in 1979, aims at protecting the wilderness. Abbey didn’t like being considered an environmentalist, but definitely played a part in environmental movements, especially since a lot of his writings had to do with the environment, like Deseret Solitaire, which illustrates the beauty of the Southwest, especially Utah where he worked as a ranger.