Lightning Bug


"The smells of things in the air of the night are the calls of lives wanting to be found. Why else are fragrances fragrant?
We see to find, we hear to find, we smell to find and be found. Until we find or be found, we are lost and wanting."

The theme of the mood of an ending is of a loss or finding.I first came across Donald Harington 20+ years ago. He wasn't a priority because, heck, I was working in the bookstore business, and new and exciting books were passing beneath my nose every day. I was also trying to make a dent in the established classics, and Harington, as he does today, falls somewhere in that middle ground between a classic and I-will-never-get-around-to-reading-him.In the book world, Harington is a cool author to have read, but no points off for never hearing about him.

Recently, Daniel Woodrell was on tour, and I wish I'd made a trek to see him. I did send my books to a friend in Houston who kindly had Mr. Woodrell sign them for me. I would have liked to have asked Woodrell about Donald Harington because geographically they resided not far apart, and their writing, though distinctly different, could share the same shelf.If anyone sees Woodrell before me, do ask him about Harington.I will bet he has an opinion worth hearing.

Latha Bourne is our main character, and what a main character she is."She's got eyes like a startled doe's, and a mouth like a pink morning-glory just openin, and hair like the smoke in a kerosene lantern, and she's tall and built like a young cat."

Donald Harington

Donald Harington grew up in Little Rock, but spent his summers with relatives up in the Appalachian mountains.Due to illness at a young age, he was nearly deaf, but his ear was tuned to the cadences of those hillbilly relatives. Latha and the people of Stay More speak a version of English that I could probably understand better after a couple of mason jars of moonshine and after my jaw had worked through a twist of tobacco.


Thinking about Donald, or Dawny as he was called up in the hills and also the name he uses as the narrator of this book, is a 5 to 6 year old boy who is the youngest member of the legion of males in love with Latha Bourne. I would be a little nervous about my son spending that much time up in the hills exposed to the skewed morality of those folks.Case in point: "Latha had already lost her virginity, at the age of eleven, to some third or fourth cousin of hers. (Well, as they say in this part of the country, a virgin, by definition, is a five-year-old girl who can outrun her daddy and her brothers, so I guess Latha was a late-developer or else just lucky or, from another point of view, unlucky.)"

Latha has a vivid imagination of the sexual nature.Harington gives us explicit detail in what she would like to do with the ice delivery man, the tomato farmer, and man who happens to stumble into the same fishing spot as her (well she went a little beyond imagination with him). I recommend keeping a fan close to hand to cool down the flush in your cheeks for those moments in the book.

Latha is in love with Every Dill, a man of lower class (honestly, the class structure in this community from top to bottom could be separated by the width of a sheet of paper),a thief(unconfirmed),a rapist(up for interpretation)and a born again preacher(unsure if it is his true calling). The love story between Every and Latha is the glue of the story, and everything that happens revolves around whether or not they will or will not finally get married.

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I hope that everyone has had an opportunity to be in a field at night when the lightning bugs are out. It is as if the stars have come down to earth.

I vacillated between 3 and 4 stars, but decided because I did enjoy the book and plan to read more in the Stay More saga that I would give it the bump up to 4 stars.Harington has captured a way of life that I will never, Zeus willing, ever experience first hand. Growing up on a farm in Kansas I did identify with: "the screen door pulled outward in a slow swing, the spring on the screen door stretching vibrantly, one sprung tone and fading overtone high-pitched even against the bug-noises and frog-noises, a plangent twang, WRIRRAAANG, which, more than any other sound, more than those other sounds, evokes the heart of summer, of summer evening, of summer evenings there in that place."

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