Edward Abbey’s Brave Cowboy

I love the way that Edward Abbey describes setting in the Brave Cowboy by incorporating it into the action. He has a connection with nature and incorporates the main character into that world. As the reader, we see what he sees in a realistic and authentic way. It isn’t romanticized which is what makes the process of industrialization even more tragic. Someone had said that his descriptions of Mexicans make them seem lazy. This might be true of his true intentions, I’m not sure, but I also think that it is a natural product of a detached style of narration. Burns is in getting too involved with the people or industrial world around him, he just observed in the distance, as an outsider. Therefore, he makes observations that someone is fat or skinny or tall or short.

Burns is resourceful and independent with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is wild in the way that he can live in the wild but not in his demeanor or judgment. He lives a solitary life but one of an individual and an outsider.

He reminds me a little bit about this guy I read about online.


I encountered the Horseman in Laguna Beach riding along the Pacific Coast Highway. He was ahead of me moving at horse speed. The traffic, hurried as always, slowed to a pause and then pulled around him. As I pulled past him, I could hear the clip-clop of the hooves of his mount and his pack horse. I glanced into the rear view mirror after I got ahead of him and saw the blinking red and blue lights and heard the short bleep of a siren tapped once. He had been pulled over by the Laguna Beach police for an interview. I pulled in around the corner, walked back, and joined a group of citizens already watching this encounter. The Horseman was riding to Texas. He said he’d started at the Canadian border. The cop asked him why he wasn’t driving. He said he didn’t have a truck and a horse trailer, just a horse, a pack horse and a dog. His plan was simply to ride the coast to San Diego and turn left.”

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