Exit the Rainmaker

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

On May 18, 1982, Julian Nance “Jay” Carsey was approaching the end of his seventeenth year as president of Charles County Community College. The next day, only six days into his forty-seventh year, this highly respected, nationally known educator and consultant stepped aboard an airplane and vanished. Carsey left behind several brief notes for wife and friends, but nothing to explain the mystery behind his departure.

Seven months later, Carsey contacted an old friend from his refuge in El Paso, Texas. Within short order, Carsey divorced his wife of fifteen years, remarried, and began a new job teaching at various United States Air Force bases around the world. Carsey, in short, exchanged a life of apparent substance and power as a college president for the frugal life-style of an academic gypsy. Although Carsey was no longer missing, he had dramatically altered his life and the lives of his family and friends.

Carsey was not the first to abandon spouse, career, and familiar surroundings for something new. He was not unique in deciding to commit social suicide rather than continue in a manner which he found repugnant. Moreover, if the past offers any indications of the future, he will not be the last.

Jonathan Coleman is fascinated with human behavior--particularly the bizarre and unpredictable actions of otherwise normal and unexceptional people. Jay Carsey was not facing scandal, he had committed no crime, he was not faced with a life-threatening illness; he simply left one life and began anew. Coleman offers a variety of explanations for Carsey’s behavior based on an exhaustive series of interviews with everyone concerned. Some of the explanations will appeal to some, while others will adopt an alternative approach. Nevertheless, the raw material is there for all to see and draw their own conclusions as to what made Carsey run. EXIT THE RAINMAKER is a disturbing book, no doubt because Jay Carsey’s approach to his problems will strike a responsive cord in most readers, but it is nevertheless worth the time and effort.