Donald Harington has died. If you’re asking yourself “Who was Donald Harington?” you’re not alone–the man the New York Times calls the “Ozark Surrealist” never found a very wide readership during his long career (“Donald Harington, Ozark Surrealist, 73,” by William Grimes). But the readers he did have found him a wonderful writer.
“Don Harington is not an underappreciated novelist,” the poet Fred Chappell told The Democrat-Gazette. “He is an undiscovered continent.”
Booklist reviewers have more or less concurred with that assessment. In his review of Thirteen Albatrosses; (or, Falling off the Mountain), Thomas Gaughan wrote that “Harington’s delightful novels of life in Arkansas are far too little known.” And, in his starred review of With (2004), Frank Sennett wrote:
With his delightful twelfth novel, Harington might finally be destined to lose the ironic designation “America’s greatest unknown novelist.”
Alas, that was not to be. But it’s a remarkable for any writer to engage an audience so thoroughly, no matter what the audience’s size may be.
And it kind of makes you wonder what other authors you’ve missed, doesn’t it? I’d love to hear from any Harington fans out there.