by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Cockroaches of Stay More, by Donald Harington.
San Diego, CA, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, March 1989, hardcover $19.95 (337 pages).
“One time not too long ago on a beginning of night in the latter part of May, a middle-aged gent was walking homeward along the forest path from Roamin Road to the village of Carlott, behind Holy House in the valley of Stainmoor or Stay More. The six gitalongs that carried him were rickety, and there was a meandering to his gait that gave a whole new meaning to the word Periplaneta. This wanderer gave a smart nod, as if in agreement to a command, though no one had spoken to him yet. His wings were not folded neatly across his back and were neither tidy nor black but flowzy and brownish. Presently he was met by a plump parson whose wings were very black and long and trim like the tails of a coat, and who was humming a hymn, ‘The Old Shiny Pin.’
‘Morsel, Reverend,’ said the flowzy gent, and spat, marking his space.” (pg. 1)
Donald Harington was a prize-winning regional author who built his literary career on writing about the backwoods Ozark area of Arkansas. He specialized in the small rural communities that were never large to start with, and that have dwindled since to ghost towns; one of his best-known books is the non-fiction travelogue Let Us Build a City: Eleven Lost Towns (1986). He set more than ten novels in the fictional village of Stay More, Arkansas, chronicling its rise and decline over a hundred-and-fifty-year period. All except this one have featured Stay More’s human inhabitants. In The Cockroaches of Stay More, it has become a complete ghost town except for two human recluses – and hundreds of cockroaches.