"If, as a main character in this playfully intelligent novel about writing novels professes, "The art of fiction lies in wandering beyond the conventional into the original and outrageous," Harington's novel succeeds admirably. This
despite the fact the book could aptly be subtitled "variation on a theme (and the life) of Nabokov." Both allusionary and illusionary, it centers around a Georgian (as in the former USSR) princess/mycologist/dissident who arrives in the United States with a rudimentary knowledge of English, a passion for pubescent boys, and a deep-seated fear that her Russian psychiatrist
tormentor, Bolshakov, is still on her trail. With the help of a ghost and an alcoholic art historian-cum-novelist, she discovers her own talent for fiction and makes enough money to take over a suite of rooms in an old mountain resort hotel (a la Nabokov). Eventually, however, both Bolshakov and her taste for 12-year-olds catch up with her and her world comes crashing down.
Or does it? For, after all, 'Ekaterina you were, and you were not at all.'"
- Library Journal
About the Author
Although he was born and raised in Little Rock, Donald Harington spent nearly all of his early summers in the Ozark mountain hamlet of Drakes Creek, his mother's hometown, where his grandparents operated the general store and post office. There, before he lost his hearing to meningitis at the age of twelve, he listened carefully to the vanishing Ozark folk language and the old tales told by story-tellers. His academic career is in art and art history and he has taught art history at a variety of colleges, including his alma mater, the University of Arkansas.
His first novel was published by Random House in 1965, and since then he has published twelve other novels, most of them set in the Ozark hamlet of his own creation, Stay More, based loosely upon Drakes Creek. He has also written books about artists.
He won the Robert Penn Warren Award in 2003, the Porter Prize in 1987, the Heasley Prize at Lyon College in 1998, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 1999 and that same year won the Arkansas Fiction Award of the Arkansas Library Association. He has been called "an undiscovered continent" (Fred Chappell) and "America's Greatest Unknown Novelist" (Entertainment Weekly).
The Critics Praise:
"A marvelously entertaining novel...Harington has outdone himself."
- Booklist (starred review)
"Superbly crafted, foxy, engaging, funny, joyous."
- Los Angeles Times
"We can be glad for Mr. Harington's book, whose intelligence and humor demonstrate that American fiction writing still has a pulse."
- Washington Book World
"A literary tour de force...grand entertainment from an author who's been too little known for too long."