Most works of contemporary fiction focus on either prevalent issues or infamous historical events. However, in Donald Harrington’s second novel, Lightning Bug, the reader is introduced to the world of Stay More, Ark. and the dramatic lives of its tiny population.
The main character, Latha Bourne, is the town’s postmistress and as the reader later finds out, an escapee from the local insane asylum. The story revolves around her personal life; mainly the men she falls in love with and those who fall in love with her.
Lightning Bug is told through the point of view of one of her afore mentioned suitors, a 5 year old boy named Dawny. As the story unfolds, the reader learns about the connection between Latha and her long lost lover, Every Dill.
Their romance is also a tragedy and, inherently, a mix of emotions. As the reader becomes accustomed to Harrington’s unqiue style of writing (one which mirrors a play’s script), the bonds that tie the reader to Stay More become more and more prevalent. Each character’s unique sense of self creates an identifiable affection for their tiny lives in the tiny town that they live in.
Harington’s work was greatly influenced by Drakes Creek, Arkansas, where Harington spent summers as a child. Although Harington went deaf at the age of 12 due to meningitis, his hanicap did not prevent him from picking up and remembering the vocabulary and modes of expression among the Ozark denizens, nor in conducting his teaching career as an adult.
Although I would encourage readers to experience Lightning Bug, I do need to caution younger readers as the book contains a good amount of sexual material that needs to be considered with a mature mindset. But besides that one drawback (for some), Lightning Bug is an enjoyable read for anyone.
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