Edward Abbey is best known as the author of the novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and the non-fiction book of environmental essays “Desert Solitaire.” He is also known for the 1956 novel “The Brave Cowboy” which was made into the 1962 film “Lonely Are the Brave” starring Kirk Douglas as Jack Burns, a loner cowboy who disdains modern society and the destruction of natural resources in the Southwest. Jack Burns made cameo appearances in several of Abbey’s novels, and was a major character in “Good News.”
“Good News” takes place in the near future of the USA in which the government and economy have collapsed due to an unspecified disaster, and chaos reigns in most places. Most of the action is in Phoenix, Arizona, which is under the control of a quasi-military dictatorship. A group of rebels is attempting to undermine those who wield the power. Jack Burns is on his way there with his Native American friend Sam and together they are looking for Jack’s son, whom he has not seen in over 20 years. Jack makes contact with the rebels, and together they attempt to overthrow the dictator who runs the city, and who wants to expand his power across the country.
Although the scenario is a bleak one, this novel was quite an enjoyable read, and shows how a small group of under-equipped freedom fighters can make a difference against overwhelming odds. The characters in this novel are realistic and charming, though the bad guys are almost cartoonish in their villainy (not unlike real life!).
I highly recommend this book as a companion to “The Brave Cowboy,” “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” and “Hayduke Lives!”