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Butterfly Weed
     

Butterfly Weed

3.5 2
by Donald Harington
 

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The raucous and poignant story of Doc Swain describes how he becomes a physician without attending medical school, his ability to heal patients with the "dream cure," his pursuit by a student and a music teacher from the high school at which he teaches, and the heartbreaking choices he must make.

Overview

The raucous and poignant story of Doc Swain describes how he becomes a physician without attending medical school, his ability to heal patients with the "dream cure," his pursuit by a student and a music teacher from the high school at which he teaches, and the heartbreaking choices he must make.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Novelist Harington (Ekaterina) continues to revel in the foibles of the residents of Stay More, Ark., focusing this time on the Ozark hamlet's physician, Doc Swain. How Doc became a doctor, learning the deepest secrets of healing from the sweet and crusty Kie Raney, makes up the first part of the book. But Doc has learned his lessons so well and is so successful in his chosen profession that he discovers he is able to treat patients through their dreams. While the novelty of this treatment wins him many customers, the dream cures don't earn him much money. Doc is forced to teach high-school hygiene class, where he falls in love with a student and through witchcraft is turned (briefly) into the sex slave of the music teacher. But he is a hardy sort, not unlike the butterfly weed of the title, a root able to survive the worst either caterpillars or weather can dish out. Harington's rich and original language gives his characters depth and charm as well as puts a new spin on commonplace notions ("Bones is all we got to protect us from gettin squoze and scrunched by the cruel, mean world," remarks Doc's young love in health class) Naughty, tender and unpredictable, Butterfly Weed is a lively trip along a river of language. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired, playful storytelling from one of our most consistently original (and impish) novelists (Ekaterina, 1993, etc.), who now returns to his Ozark version of Shangri-la—the village of Stay More, a place hard to find but infinitely harder to leave.

Harington's series of novels about this fictional Arkansas community (The Choiring of the Trees, 1991, etc.) and its eccentric population ("Stay Morons") has been distinguished by an idiosyncratic blend of lovingly rendered detail (on the language, beliefs, and history of southern mountain life) and wild fantasy. This latest installment, a history of the complex love life and remarkable medical achievements of Doc Colvin Swain, Stay More's "dreaming Doctor," is no different: The title derives from an incident in which a chaste young woman, fleeing an unwanted suitor, is rumored to have turned herself into a butterfly, or a flower, to escape. While the bawdy record of Swain's affairs is at the heart of Harington's crowded, exuberant story, we also get a robust portrait of the doctor's special gifts, his patients, and his times (from the end of the 19th century to the 1950s). Apprenticed as a young boy to a hill doctor, he learns to use both a wide range of herbal remedies and conventional cures. But what really sets him apart is his trancelike ability to visit his patients at night, in their dreams, and to treat them successfully on some nocturnal astral plane. The most painful irony of Swain's career is that beautiful, beloved Tenny (Tennessee), the true love of his life, is the one patient he can't save. She dies, horribly, of tuberculosis. But, this being Stay More, she lingers on as a spirit, watching over Doc, waiting for him.

Such material would evaporate in the hands of a lesser novelist. But Harington, an ingenious, wise storyteller and a sly stylist, able to catch the tang and vigor of the spoken word, makes Doc and the other inhabitants of Stay More seem as real as the mountains they inhabit—and also as mysteriously timeless.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592640973
Publisher:
Harington, Donald
Publication date:
12/01/2004
Series:
Stay More Series
Pages:
307
Sales rank:
1,385,334
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.87(d)

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Butterfly Weed 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
oilguy More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most creative and entertaining books I have read in years. Harrington's unique use of the English (Ozarkian?) language is playful and witty and, in the end, very intelligent. The story itself is mystical and powerful. I am delighted to have finally discovered this author. How could I have missed him all these years?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago