"Donald Harington is not an unkown author. He is an undiscovered continent."- Fred Chappell
Just as with the early settlers who arrived on saddle bagged mules, only to say with a shrug, ‘Pears lak this here road don't go no further' and start falling trees, the mythical Ozark hamlet of Stay More was not my planned travel destination. I love books that take me places, but the Arkansas Ozarks just wasn’t on my itinerary. All it took however, was one chance encounter with a book titled With to quickly realize that this was a travel destination beyond compare.
The town of Stay More is strongly rooted in the real history and folklore of the Ozarks and just as solidly established in the vast imagination of little-known author, Donald Harington. Harington has written thirteen novels set in this town where animals talk, ghosts provide companionship to the living and the local doctor, who despite his lack of formal medical training, is able to cure patients in their dreams.
I recently traveled back to Stay More with The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks. Using architecture as a marker, the novel lays out the history of Stay More from the founding of the town by the Ingledew brothers in the 1830s, through six generations of Stay Morons up to the 1970s. Along the way, Harington's voice, like Waylon Jennings narrating the Dukes of Hazzard, injects countless lessons in folklore, history and linguistics; some of them true, some appropriated, some entirely made up and all of them fantastically entertaining.
Donald Harington's Stay More might not be everyone's ideal travel destination, but if you enjoy masterful storytelling, bawdy humor and philosophical conversation written in a dialogue that you really must read aloud, (preferably with a swig of Arkansas sour mash whiskey), then you will most certainly find yourself stayin' more.