The Cherry Pit
by: Donald Harington
Published by: Toby Press (April release)
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Reviewed by Julie Failla Earhar
My friends at Toby Press are doing literature a great service. They are re-issuing Donald Harington's first book, The Cherry Pit
, while we wait on his 14th novel, Enduring
, which has been delayed due to illness and a car accident injury. The cover may look different, but I am assured that the content was not changed for political correctness' sake. Originally published in 1962, the prose is only dated by its use of language and my knowledge of the state. I find what was considered radical and mind-blowing in the early '60s, is now rather tame material.
Clifford Stone is an assistant museum curator of "arcane Americana" in Boston. He has a fulfilling job and a rich wife, yet he longs to go back to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. Why? Cliff doesn't seem to know exactly why either. There's this need for home and comfort and familiarity. He sets about renewing old high school friendships and re-discovering a girl and a love he had forgotten.
In many ways, Little Rock is just how Cliff left it. A backward Southern town still wrestling with the issues of race, culture, and love. Cliff sees that right away and wants to go back to Boston, but the South has a hold of him, much like it holds those who grew up there. He can't leave right away, as much as he wants too. Little Rock is caught in that cusp that existed in the 1960s, that longing to hold onto the Old South of the pre-Civil War and the New South that was shaping after desegregation. And that is simply the themes of this magnificent piece of literature that has been saved from almost obscurity.
If you've never read any of Harington's works, now is the time. He recently received the Oxford American Lifetime Award for Contributions to Southern Literature...and rightfully so. "Entertainment Weekly" has called him "America's greatest unknown novelist."
As Harington takes his place among the great writers of Southern Literature, I find myself longing for home and eagerly awaiting the next novel. Get well soon!
Armchair Interviews says: Unique look at the 1960s.
Author's Web site: http:/www.donaldharington.com
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