Elegiac and complex—a feast of Southerly words that will please Harington’s many admirers.

ENDURING

Harington’s Stay More saga of novels, 40 years on, comes to a close—perhaps.

It’s an Arkansas version of the Tale of Genji, an Ozarkian Odyssey: At any rate, many volumes of many hundreds of pages each add up to one of the most ambitious fictional cycles in American literature. Harington (Farther Along, 2008, etc.) builds the tale of a character who has figured, sometimes peripherally, throughout. Latha Bourne is smart, sensitive and out of place in the backwoods village of Stay More, populated by those whom Harington long ago branded “Staymorons.” (An Arkansan, he can get away with it.) Told many years later from a descendant’s point of view, Latha’s story is not a happy one; she is molested and maltreated in a chaotic time, when war is making strangers of men being pulled off for the trenches of France. For various reasons she spends time under psychiatric care, a staple of Ingledew family lore thereafter. A new mother—complexities abound there—she finds herself on the road, meeting the people one meets there, drifters and veterans “looking for the right place,” and traveling full circle “on stretches of primitive road that wandered and meandered and forked,” lost in a countryside that even natives find difficult to traverse. Latha makes her way home in time, settling among disapproving townies while cajoling her husband-to-be to share her bed (a one-time preacher, he still “didn’t want to sleep with Latha until they were married”) and otherwise scandalizing the locals. Life moves on, and Harington’s tale swallows up whole decades. His affect is sometimes faux-naif, but underlying this tale are moments of apparent homage to Faulkner’s Light in August (and perhaps even Sanctuary); throughout, he writes elegantly of a time gone by, and of people whom, in real life, time would have forgotten.

Elegiac and complex—a feast of Southerly words that will please Harington’s many admirers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59264-256-4

Page Count: 510

Publisher: Toby Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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