LET US BUILD US A CITY: Eleven Lost Towns by Donald Harington

LET US BUILD US A CITY: Eleven Lost Towns

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A book of discovery, as a college professor and a high-school teacher conspire to seek out ""lost cities"" of their native Arkansas--cities that had once held out high hopes (usually based upon some natural substance--such as Sulphur City--or some natural feature--such as Cave City or Mound City) and eventually fell flat. Professor Harington, who did the writing and photography in this volume, narrates the book following teacher Kim's trail in the third person. This makes for an unusual style on the one hand--distancing the author from his material--yets adds almost a mystical touch to each expedition. Along the way, we meet some colorful local characters (and some not so local, as Kim accidentally runs into ex-governor Orville Faubus, as she seeks out the essence of Marble City in a tourist-trap theme park, Dogpatch, U.S.A. Faubus, it turns out, is now president of the Board of Governors of Dogpatch). And, along the way, we encounter some gorgeous writing--e.g., ""a broken dream that must remain untold in jazz, rock, even blues, can quickly be developed and descanted in bluegrass, the Keel. Aid of music."" Or, ""Of our eleven lost cities, Garland is in most respects the least attractive, except insofar as wreckage itself is fascinating, squalor and desuetude have their perverse charms or, at least, like romantic ruins, appeal to our passion for what is broken, flawed, failed, and gone."" Harington's own summary speaks best: ""This book is the story of communities that aspired to dignity and achieved serenity."" An intriguing, offbeat tour.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1986
ISBN: 1592642039
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich