Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chronicler of rural Arkansas Ozarks dies

Donald Harington, "Ozark Surrealist," died this week-end at the age of 73. I became aware of Harington and his work some 20 years ago, while I was still living in the Arkansas Ozarks that were widely held to be the setting for his series of novels, a fictional place called Stay More. Here's an excerpt from the NYTimes obituary:
Mr. Harington, who never achieved popular success but attracted a devoted cult following, blended myth, dreamscape and sharply observed Ozark speech and manners to depict a rural society whose richness and eccentricity drew the inevitable comparisons to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.
* * *
That place, Stay More, whose residents Mr. Harington called Stay Morons, turned out to be a strange one, populated by shrewd hillbillies, reclusive millionaires, an itinerant motion-picture projectionist, a candidate for governor who wants to abolish hospitals and schools, and, in “The Cockroaches of Stay More,” talking insects who constitute their own Ozark subsociety.
I referred to Harington's work in this 2008 post about a community in my home county that was widely discussed as the specific model for Stay More. The Times obituary, however, explains that Drakes Creek, Arkansas, where Harington spent his childhood summers, was the inspiration for Stay More. As best I can learn from searching the web, Drakes Creek is a hamlet (and not even a Census Designated Place) in neighboring Madison County, Arkansas, population 14,243.

1 comment:

Harry Styron said...

A friend of mine told me that Harington told him that Murray, Arkansas, in Newton County, was the place that Staymore was based on. Drake's Creek, about 35 miles west of Murray, was a similar place where Harington spent boyhood summers.

Thanks for mentioning my blog, Ozarks Law & Economy.