Writing a biography of an author can be a challenging task -- how much do you write about the subject's life, how much about the work? -- and reviewing such a biography even more so. That is especially the case when the subject of the biography is Edward Abbey, who wanted to be a novelist but wrote himself into several identities, among them wilderness Jeremiah and curmudgeonly cowboy. Abbey regularly complained that reviewers wrote too much about him and not enough about his books, a criticism that could be aptly applied to James Cahalan's new biography, Edward Abbey: A Life. …
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Gregory Gipson writes from suburban Tampa, Fla.