This book feel so squarely an early 1970s book. It’s about a group of proto-eco terrorist/eco warriors who are as much anti-corporate as they are pro-environment. The group is far from monolithic, with a doctor who has witnessed the body horrors of pollution-fueled cancers, a Vietnam vet with PTSD who witnessed Agent Orange firsthand, a Brooklyn grad student who studied French literature and has that Jacobin spirit in her, and a polygamous Mormon who just loves the outdoors.
It’s also a comedy.
Anyway, they team up in a fragile alliance with the goal of detroying the Glen Canyon Dam, a porkbarrel project that destroyed multiple ecosystems and even killed 16 workers in its construction. The group works together to try to achieve this goal in a novel that is part heist, part modern reflection on capitalism, the environment, sex, and a changing zeitgeist.
The novel strikes a tone not at all dissimilar to books by Joseph Heller, Ken Kesey, Kurt Vonnegut, and others in that kind of group. It’s both a little more serious at times than some of those writers and also a little more off-the-hook/anticky as well.
It’s an interesting book that plays with language and idea at the same time revering in deep tones the American West and the especially the desert. It’s purely anarchic in its tone and theme, while being pretty straightforward in its plot otherwise. I think it’s a little too up-cutting at times and has some tone issues that are at odds with its ideas.