I've been waiting for more than a year for Farther Along, holding my breath in anticipation each time a package from The Toby Press arrived. When it finally did, I readied myself for the creatures, characters, and complexities of the Arkansas Ozarks and Donald Harrington's fictional town of Stay More.
I read and read. Farther Along takes its name from an old gospel hymn that tells us we will learn about life farther along. In Part One, an unnamed narrator describes an unnamed man's (could it be Clifford Stone from The Cherry Pit?) abandonment of a stellar career as curator of an Americana museum. He is the best man in his profession but feels a need to leave life behind and live in the past. He heads for the Ozarks where he settles as a bluff dweller. Twice a year, he hikes into a nearby town that still has a few residents (and weird-a fully stocked store) to load up on toilet tissue.
Confused? Me too. But it's a Harington novel so I keep reading. He makes some friends in the hills: an old woman who was once the postmistress of the town; a moonshiner whose ten fingers are different characters and communicates for him; and Ralph, the dog. Then page 79 and Part Two. Whoa! The narrator changes and new characters are introduced. I think. I no longer get the musical metaphors, but Harington researched the heck out of this book and even referenced it in the narrative.
Okay, I kinda get it. I think. Then I reach page 171 and Part Three, where all I can determine is that the protagonist almost OD'd on moonshine and was recuperating in the town's old hotel when a female historian researching an ex-governor's mistress arrives and has a lot of sex with the bluff dweller. Huh?
When I reach the conclusion of Farther Along, I find I have no idea what this book is about. I've loved all his other novels, so I won't give up on Harington-he has 12 other GREAT novels. I also know that this book was delayed for a year due to an injury suffered in a car accident.
Armchair Interviews says: Read Harington, but don't start with this one.