His short chapters are prose poems on forgotten values: the precision of chisels; the lonely lifestyle of a well digger; the admirable, stubborn Amish.… Refreshing, even Thoreaulike in its sly rejection of practicality.
Jarrel likes to play with dynamite. Jeeter likes to drive pick-up trucks down muddy Adirondack logging roads at 50 miles an hour, sideways. Both of them, flirting with sanity, plot to dynamite a third brother, Lester, from a mental institution. The elements of that plot include a woman farmer, an Indian who just may be able to fly, and of course, Lester, whose only crime against sanity is the ability to sit in a wheelbarrow, pick his scabs, and question the sky. Together, the five of them structure a fragile existence in the north country of upper New York State, an area where farming has ceased to be fashionable of profitable but merely a series of deadly exercises in survival. What happens when the caprice of their personalities, the struggle for existence, and the authorities chip away at their unstable cohesiveness, provides the backbone of the novel. By turns comic, tragic, and clumsy, Temporary Sanity explores a fictional county where the desperation of dirt farming produces a mind that questions not just the limits of sanity, but indeed its rightful continent.