EKATERINA by Donald Harington


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 Harington's eighth novel (The Choiring of the Trees, 1991, etc.) a literary tour de force that purports to be the story of a Russian ÇmigrÇe who writes bestselling and critically acclaimed novels and who also has a taste for preadolescent boys. Ekatarina (aka V. Kelian) arrives in the US with her cardboard suitcase, then moves into a big faculty house filled with ghosts, drunks, and ``a polished buffet truly covered with bottles of all sizes and shapes.'' For the rest of the novel, Harington takes us on a magical mystery tour, and what begins as an odd story about eccentrics becomes a sendup of literary culture. In the beginning, Ekatarina teaches at the Cathedral of Learning (she's an expert on mushrooms), trades stories with the house's inhabitants, and seduces 12-year-old Kenny, the son of Big Kenny or Pa, who, at 71, is the retired professor and house-owner. There are word games, parodies, and even a discussion about narrative technique, as well as an epistle dated 2021 recorded from beyond the grave. Then Ekaterina moves to Stick Around, where she lives in the Halfmoon Hotel. Once her first novel, Georgia Boy (she's from the Georgian republic), hits the bestseller lists--thanks to a long New York Review of Books piece (included in its entirety)--she finds fame, fortune, and more prepubescents, not to mention glorious sex with a hillbilly actor. Meanwhile, Morris, her cat, speaks; her editor is attacked by a former Russian (shades of Rushdie here); and finally she's killed by a Paris Review ``Art of Fiction'' interviewer--the mother of one of Ekaterina's prepubescents. (The interview and an afterword by the book's supposed editor complete the novel.) Grand entertainment from an author who's been too little known for too long: perhaps this zany homage to Nabokov (especially Lolita) will bring deserved attention to Harington's impressive body of work.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-128122-X
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993


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