Word music by author Donald Harington


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[...] Writing to me is very like music. If a paragraph has the cadence, the music that I want, then I know it's right. If it doesn't have it, I'm dissatisified, no matter how clear the content might be or how suitable in other respects.

I would like to recommend, in light of this, the fiction works of my friend of over a decade, Donald Harington, who's quoted in the epigraph in my .sig below.

If you would like to know more about what I have long seen as his adept, vigorous "word music," you're invited to take a look at this article about Harington which I wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 1996.

From all of Barbara's allusions to Wolfe, I'd say that Harington shares many of the same sensibilities. Not so much in style — he's far more plot-driven — but in what I'd call a Southern perceptiveness, of burrowing into the emotional undercurrent of events, searching for resonance.

The novel quoted below, Some Other Place, the Right Place, uses deliberate shifts in style and presentation to find the emotional truths underlying the protagonists' country-crossing search for the heart of a "ghost story."

I might have rejected its suggestions of Other Realms if I hadn't run across Nathaniel Branden's suggestion (see his "Full Context" interview) that "mysticism" is deserving of rational exploration, as an expression of portions of the human psyche, and as being distinct from "irrationalism." I didn't reject it, as I would have when under Rand's stronger spell 15 years earlier, and I was amply rewarded.

If you'd like to try a more straightforward narrative, one that is shaped by both subtle matters of allusion to "shades of green" and by a plot involving a man wrongly convicted of rape, I would recommend what I see as Harington's strongest writing, The Choiring of the Trees.

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I originally found this quote by Barbara Branden and replied to it deep within a thread that's nominally about Wagner, and decided it ought to be "unburied" by posting it here instead. ~ SR

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  • 2 years later...

After another quarter-decade of time, 250-odd views and no replies. Well, I hope some of you have at least sampled Harington's work anyway. His latest novel, Enduring, the saga of the female touchstone of his fictional town, Latha Bourne, was published in September.

It will also be his last novel. My friend died this past Saturday night of complications from pneumonia and other chronic illnesses, after several months in the hospital and the hospice. He was 73, and had only been able to enjoy a year of his retirement from the faculty of the University of Arkansas before his final bout of illness.

If you want the semi-fictional, semi-travelogue, all-fascinating story of how he met the loving woman who was at his side at the end, try his Let Us Build Us a City.

I just found this out today. And now I have to do what I very rarely have had any impulse to do in my life, especially in light of my not being able to get to his memorial service.

What I can, and will, do is go get thoroughly plastered. Be seeing you.

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