SIMPLE LIVING: One Couple's Search for a Better Life by Frank & Wanda Urbanska Levering

SIMPLE LIVING: One Couple's Search for a Better Life

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Yuppie angst in a Virginia orchard, with strands of Thoreau, Quaker sternness, and unabashed capitalism. Levering and Urbanska were young intellectuals not quite in hell, which is to say, Los Angeles. They had a modern, childless marriage and two upscale careers as writers. Both were from working-class backgrounds, Levering's more to the point: The young Frank spent his childhood resisting his father's designs for him to take over the family orchard and to work for Quaker causes. Then the elder Levering's health worsened and someone had to bring in the cherries and apples. This demand coincided with the authors' advanced burn-out: Their careers, while technically successful, were not exactly world-beating, and the lives they led were so demanding there was no time for each other. In 1986, after intense negotiation, they took over the orchard--and here offer what is primarily a record of their successes and failures. Both husband and wife continue to be writers and theirs hardly seems to be a simple life--but, rather, an attempt to center both living and work in the home, with an appreciation of nature as well as of hard physical work. The Levering orchard is a good-sized commercial one, and the details of its running will likely be fascinating to urban dwellers who long for escape to the country. Running an orchard, it seems, is as complex as any other work. The Levering-Urbanska approach is youthful but practical; they deal with the almost-political issue of how and what to spray with impressive detail and resolve: Do everything organically, they say, and you won't have a crop. Not quite the grand meditation it sets out to be, but as a portrait of young and old generations finding a way to make the land work in difficult times, this is lovely stuff.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0895872897
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Viking