Lightning Bug by Donald HaringtonI have to thank The Oxford American, a journal devoted to southern literature and culture, for introducing me to Donald Harington. The fine folks at that magazine let me know about him way back in 2006, when they handed out their first Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Southern Literature to this guy from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Donald who? It pains me to say it, but Id never heard of the man.
Youd think I would have run right out and bought every Harington in sight, but this is one time I just got it wrong. It happens to all of us from time to time, I guess. You just cant read every book out there. And, if youll bear with me here, because youve probably figured out, this wont be the typical book review, I have to admit, being from Alabama, you take your pleasures where you can find them at times.
Other than college football and a few other sports, my beloved home ranks about last in every positive category of American life. Now, note I said beloved, because I do love this state, even with all its faults. Its only human nature that when youre low down there on the totem pole, its always nice to know theres a couple of notches occupied beneath your lowly position.
It used to be said, if you were an Alabama resident, Well, thank God for Mississippi. Then those Mississippians unbuckled their bible belt and legalized gambling. And all of a sudden, Mississippis got better roads, some really nice schools, new welcome centers,new train stations, and other amenities all brought about by what most Alabamans still consider a mortal sin, with the exception of those folks who regularly cross state lines to legally gamble and buy lottery tickets in Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. Its amazing what a little sin can do for a place, you know?
And THEN, Oxford, Mississippi was named one of the top 10 places to retire to in the whole Newnited States of America. That just about did it.
So about all an Alabama boy could say was, Well, thank God theres still Arkansas, not that we ever really considered them part of the SOUTH. Darned if it doesnt hurt to say out of literary pride--yeah, we got a few authors from around here--I figured I could just skip Donald Harington. After all, weve got Nelle Harper Lee. No, I dont believe Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, before you ask. However, I do think Ms. Lee had considerable to do with In Cold Blood. We take partial claim to Truman because of his Monroeville, Alabama relations. We have William March, Winston Groom, Mary Ward Brown, T.S. Stribling, Carl Carmer, Hudson Strode, Mark Childress, and Jimmy Buffet. Yes, I am an aging pirate way past forty parrot head. I didnt think I needed Donald Harington.
Then, back in November, 2009, I saw Donald Harington died. I read the obituaries. Donald Harington, born in Little Rock Arkansas, December 22, 1935, died November 7, 2009. The accolades astounded me. The mans life flat floored me.
Harington lost his hearing at age twelve after a bout of meningitis. Yet, in those few years he caught the dialogue, the lingo, the argot of the Ozarks. In 2010, I ran across that old copy of the Oxford American. I re-read the bio and the award, swallowed my pride, and ordered a copy of Lightning Bug. It came in from Amazon. I shelved it, forgot it, and then darned if Amazon doesnt go and buy the entire Toby Press catalog which happened to contain the complete works of Donald Harington. I could read it for free. I was between books and through the miracle of FREE whispernet service (Does that make you wonder if Amazon is going to get around to charging for downloading an e-book?) whoosh, I had my own free copy of Lightning Bug.
For those of yall wondering if this Alabama confessional is going to turn into a book review, well, here it is.
I flat love Donald Harington. It made me glad I voted for Clinton. Twice. Its enough to make a man want to go on pilgrimage to the Ozarks. First, Harington made me laugh. He could make me cry from laughing and he could make cry from the mere tragedy of what it sometimes means to simply be human. Lightning Bug is filled with references to old Ozark folkways and superstitions. To some, and youll find Haringtons detractors right here on goodreads, Haringtons dialogue is so thick with what they refer to as hillbilly ignorance, they cant abide the man. Having relations in the northwest part of this state, I can hear some of the same phrasing, terms, and superstitions I recall growing up in Alabama and visiting those family members. Its true. It rings true. And for Arkansas natives who have crucified Harington for portraying their kinfolk as ignorant, well, its just about as well they no longer call Arkansas home.
A number of years back, a good friend gave me a copy of Pissing In the Snow. Its an anthology of Arkansas folklore. She was a raven haired beauty and I was more than half way in love with her, but the timing was never right for either one of us. She could give me that book and laugh about it, because she was from, guess where--Fayetteville, Arkansas. Much of what I read in Pissing in the Snow could have come straight out of Harington. The catch is, what was in the pages of that book of folklore shine through on the pages of Haringtons writing.
While reading the book, I posted a few comments along. Having completed the book, Ill stick with my original impression. Reading Harington is about like reading Faulkner who had just about enough nitrous oxide to make him slap happy. Haringtons story is quirky. The people are quirky. Some youd like to call neighbors. Others will make you run in the opposite direction--and youd be smart if you did, because some of them would as soon kill you as look at you, especially if youre a revenooer threatening one of the best stills in the hills.
It is a sheer delight to tell you fellow readers that Harington created an entire, surreal and quirky world around the small township of Stay More, Arkansas. I have the intense pleasure of announcing I have eleven more Stay More novels to go. As Harington tells you, you wont find it on any Arkansas map, but by the towns he names that do appear on any decent Arkansas atlas, you can figure out pretty much where Harington knew it was. And, at least in Haringtons mind it might as well have been a real place. Perhaps it was. He just changed the name to protect the innocent and the guilty.
There should be no surprise that theres a lot of innocent and guilty to protect in Haringtons world. Over there in Stay More, Latha Bourne is the postmistress and she runs the most popular general store in the community. Shes got a head for business. When that candy drummer comes around in the summertime, Latha wont buy too many Hershey bars because any damned fool knows theyre going to melt in that Arkansas heat. But shes smart enough to see that the postal delivery service also crates in enough block ice to keep the soda pops cold. Her competition refuses to consider the extravagant price of carting in block ice, but cant figure out why all the men folk hang out over at Lathas.
Well, I can tell you why they do. Theres not a man in Stay More, Arkansas, thats not a little in love, or at least lust with Latha. Her allure defies description, although her sharp wit and keen intellect cause a man to pay more attention to her than just because of her curves. Even Donny (pronounced Dawny)Harington who works his way into the story as a five to six year old boy, expects to grow up and marry Latha. He loves her unquestionably, because of the attention she sheds on him, the ghost stories with which she entertains him, and the fact that she provides him shelter from some very, very rigid and unloving relatives with whom he lives.
Lightning Bug is largely the story of the romance of Every Dill and Latha Bourne. They were lovers. He was twelve and she was eleven. However, after their adolescence, the powerful Ingledew clan of brothers who consider Stay More their own personal town, and in some ways are, as they own the bank that carries the mortgages on almost every resident of Stay More, decide that Latha should be betrothed to Randall Ingledew. We dont know Lathas rationale for deciding to accept this betrothal, but she puts Every Dill out of her life.
Even World War One cannot break the hold of the Ingledew family over Randalls betrothal to Latha. Although Every Dill returns from the war to report that Randall died, tied to a tree by the Germans as a decoy to lure American doughboys into the path of a machine gun nest. Every, still in love with Latha had promised that he would take care of Randall while overseas. He failed in that mission, though the scars of machine gun bullet holes piercing both legs indicate he made every attempt to save his rival for Lathas affection. That was the kind of love he had held for her since early adolescence. However,the Ingledews threaten Every with his very life if he approaches Latha. Until Uncle Sam says Randall is dead, hes not--at least not officially. They remind him theres seven of them and one of him. If they have to, eight may take a walk in the woods, but only seven will come out. The meaning is clear.
Lighting Bug spans the time from pre-World War One to some time after 1939. During those years, many changes come to Stay More, most for the worst. Stay More is a dying town, especially after someone who might be Every Dill robs the Ingledew Bank.
Dill does leave Stay More. He has one more encounter with Latha, professing his love for her. What transpires some would call rape. Whether it was, or wasnt is subject to interpretation.
The following years are a blank in the life of Every Dill. His absence is not explained.
Latha spends a good deal of time with her sister Mandy and churlish husband in Little Rock. Latha spends almost three years in an insane asylum there. The only facts this reviewer will reveal regarding those circumstances are that her committal was involuntary, and while she clearly needed emotional help it could easily have been supplied by loving family members had they chosen to do so. In 1925, Latha escapes from the Little Rock Asylum. We next find her running the general store and being the efficient Post Mistress of Stay More.
With the exception of Dawnys sleep overs, her only company is her sisters daughter, Sonora, living with Latha in Stay More temporarily. Of course, she has her customers and visitors during the day.
Occasionally, Latha takes off the day, spending the time fishing in a fine spot, Banty Creek. There, Latha meets Dolph, also taking the day off from work on his farm in a town up the road. Latha is a woman of strong sexuality. Her exercise of it occurs rarely. But when it happens, the term la petite morte was never more applicable than to Latha, who literally faints and remains unconscious for a period of time, waking up with a tremendous sense of well being.
Dolph complicates matters by making it his sole purpose in life to marry Latha Bourne, a task she doesnt make easy for him, as she gave him a false name and her residence in a town other than Stay More. Latha doesnt see the need to complicate her life by marriage.
Of course, Dolph does track her down, eventually. She tells him shes married to a fellow that works over in the canning factory in town. Thats not true either.
Its at this point that Every Dill reappears in Stay More. His occupation? Hes become a preacher. Hes returned to post fliers around Stay More announcing his intention to preach a revival. Dills transformation from soldier to bank robber to preacher dumbfounds the residents of Stay More.
Every buys tacks from Latha to post his fliers. He returns to borrow a hammer to put them up. Clearly, Every is of the mind that Latha is his intended and their love was something meant to be from the time they were barely out of childhood.
Lathas niece, Sonora, flat out confronts Latha with her belief that Every is her father and that Latha is not her aunt, but her mother. She can see their features in her face and this is a fact that she recognizes intuitively.
Within a short time, Latha succumbs to Everys continued proposals of marriage on the condition that she make love to him before the marriage. Everys commitment to the Lord prohibits him from committing the sin of fornication but insists on putting a ring on Lathas finger.
In a recent discussion of whether authors intentionally interject symbolism into their works, I cant speculate on Haringtons position on this subject. However, I will say that Everys last name is Dill. Of course, his nickname he was stuck with was Pickle. Not only is Every a stand in for every man, within the context of this novel, Everys Pickle stands in and up for male sexuality with a priapic vengeance. And Lathas not interested in just an every mans pickle, but the one that belonged to her first love.
What follows is an impasse that can only be resolved by Everys conversation with God and Lathas own conversation with Christ. To say the episodes are dreamlike and surreal is an understatement of the greatest magnitude. I will say that Lathas conversations with Christ and his references to what his Dad would think provide some of those moments of tears resulting from laughter. Ill limit the summary to the fact that Christs and Lathas conversations occur over each of them sharing peaches in an orchard and a different twist on the incarnation of mortals by whichever aspect of the Trinity the reader so desires.
Lightning Bug is a tangle of flashbacks and narrators. It is one of Haringtons masterstrokes on what makes this novel work so well. Ive seen one reviewer who questioned the significance of Dawny and his fate, and the identity of the other narrators in this tale.
In this reviewers opinion, Harrington combines techniques of omniscient narrator, a very subjective narration speaking as to another person through the use of you. That second mentioned narrator is Dawny as a grown man, reminiscing of his coming of age in Staymore. The object of his narration is none other than Latha Bourne, addressing her as Bug, for Latha is the ultimate human form of lightning bug that mysteriously appears on those warm summer nights and makes each of them the magic we carry with us from childhood till death. And it is Haringtons use of himself as narrator through which we are able to unravel the mystery of Lathas past which the omniscient narrator does not, will not, or perhaps cannot provide us. For Latha Bourne is one of those unique and magical individual which, once she becomes a part of our lives, we are forever incapable of forgetting the impact she has had on our lives.
Ill leave this review by saying the reader will find complete satisfaction with Haringtons resolution of this novel. Love never dies. Id say thats a good thing.
For more on the works of Donald Harington, I found these references particularly fascinating. I sincerely hope youll come by the PO down at Stay More and join me there. I think the place and the people that live there have a whole lot to tell us about what it means to live.
Donald Haringtons Stay More Novels: A Celebration of Thirty-five Years, Bob Razer http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollec...
wn.com/Donald_Harington (This site includes biographical information, video interviews with Donald Harington and other helpful information
Donald Harington Interview by Edwin T. Arnold, http://www.donaldharington.com/interv...
Remembering Donald Harington and Stay More, Bob Razer,
Donald Harington, Ozark Surrealist, Dies at 73 By WILLIAM GRIMES, Published: November 12, 2009, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/art...
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII side quest guide
For platinum or gamer score, you are only required to complete 25 side quests. Whither Faith The quest is given by an inquisitor, a robed person standing in front of the statue of North Station Plaza. Where are you, Holmes? Quest is given by Thorton, a guy with a blue hat at North Station Plaza. Dying Wish Quest is given by Blythe, a girl sitting on gallery steps.
7. Side Quests
Don't be in too much of a rush to race through to the second chapter of Lightning Returns. There are some pretty entertaining side quests to enjoy in the city of Luxerion, and you'll bag yourself some useful gear, money and experience for completing them too. Listed in alphabetical order, these are all of the tasks you can get stuck into away from the main storyline, with all of the information you need for picking them up and getting the job done quickly. Once you've obtained a Phantom Rose from working your way through Voices from the Grave, take it to Alrick to get your reward. Save this one for a little later on in your journey through Luxerion as it represents a pretty meaty challenge.