Choiring of the Trees

Donald Harington, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $22.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-15-117550-5
As Nail Chism is led to the electric chair for the first time, he thinks he hears the trees singing in Stay More, his Ozarks hometown, a setting that Harington has used lovingly in his previous novels. But this book is a far cry from the larky irony of the anthropomorphic characters of The Cockroaches of Stay More . This is an intense, lyrical, moving story--based on fact--of an unjustly convicted criminal and the woman who saved his life. Harington makes of it a dramatic, engrossing narrative with the melodramatic pace of a cliffhanger, the tenderness of a pastoral romance, and the power of documentary-like descriptions of brutal prison conditions in Arkansas in the early 1900s. Falsely charged and convicted of raping a teenage girl, Chism is (temporarily) saved by a last-minute stay of execution. By that time, Viridis Monday, a newspaper artist covering the event, is convinced that he is innocent and begins a valiant campaign to gain his freedom. As usual, Harington renders his backwoods characters without patronizing or sentimentality, and he writes with sensitivity of the Ozarks life and landscape. Although sometimes the conceit of the singing trees becomes cloying, this is a significant novel that should please a wide audience. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 402 pages - 978-0-15-617099-4
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-59264-103-1
Paperback - 450 pages - 978-1-61218-123-3
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