In New Lease on Life (1971), novelist/screenwriter Carney wrote about moving--with wife Teddy and three sons--from Los...

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THE FENCE JUMPER

In New Lease on Life (1971), novelist/screenwriter Carney wrote about moving--with wife Teddy and three sons--from Los Angeles to a Wyoming cattle ranch in the 1960s. Here, in a similar memoir/meditation (likable, unremarkable, sentimental), he writes about their life in the 1970s--buying a second ranch (for winters) in Arizona, dealing with comic/serious problems, continuing to wrestle with the pros and cons of the simpler life. The new ranch, near the Mexican border, is anything but successful, what with livestock disasters and drought. There are complications, too, with the Carneys' use of ""wetback"" labor: informers, government raids, even a little border-smuggling (in the case of their beloved maid Refugia). Then Teddy falls ill with liver-disease, never fully recovering her strength--and they've got to consider selling the Wyoming ranch, leasing part of the Arizona land to the Endangered Species Bureau. But eventually, despite skeptical concern from their now-grown sons, the Carneys end the decade by buying yet another ranch (in California) after selling the desert spread in Arizona. Throughout, Carney is best when delivering small anecdotes: a moose jumping their car in Wyoming; a showdown between plucky Teddy and a threatening Papago Indian; several encounters with rattlesnakes. Less successful are the often-flaccid musings: on his inner conflict (ambitious materialist vs. free spirit); on his quest for a ""connection to Nature""; on his writing career, God, fishing, existence, and suicide. (The self-destruction of two hunting buddies is simplistically linked to the nasty pressures of materialism.) But most of this unassuming scrapbook is straightforward and sincere--with enough gritty/amusing details to keep an outdoors-minded audience modestly involved.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Green Hill--dist. by Caroline House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983