“Louie may have told you of his Grand Scheme for licking the jinx that hovers over me. As a result, I’m now writing a ‘deliberately unambitious divertissement,’ a thriller. The critics won’t know what to make of it. Neither will I, for that matter.”
—Donald Harington, 1973

As Brian Walter writes in the introduction to Double Toil and Trouble: A New Novel and Short Stories by Donald Harington, “critics and fans of Donald Harington’s work would have to wait almost half a century before getting a chance to make something of the diverting thriller in question.”

“Harington,” Walter continues, “wrote Double Toil and Trouble during the first few months of 1973 in response to a vague but compelling request by Llewellyn “Louie” Howland III, his still rather new editor at Little, Brown, for a ‘novel that quite deliberately adheres to the traditional modes of conventional fiction . . . a neatly plotted, tightly drawn divertissement.’ That last word, divertissement, shows up several more times in Harington’s subsequent letters of 1973, when he refers (with ironic self-deprecation) to the story of Hock Tuttle and the mysterious Mrs. Wilson, a woman ‘just this side of middle-aged’ who is ‘dressed city-style but not expensively’ when she shows up in the first chapter at the train station in Hock’s hometown of Pettigrew, Arkansas. As Mrs. Wilson soon learns, Pettigrew is as close as she can get by rail to her intended destination, the remote, rugged, and entirely fictional Ozark village of Stay More, which Harington had first created a few years earlier for his 1970 novel, Lightning Bug, and which would provide the setting for (or figure prominently in) the subsequent twelve novels he would publish over the ensuing four decades. Mrs. Wilson’s errand to Stay More seems as unsettling as it is urgent, revolving around a pair of large oblong pine boxes that are “tapered out to their widest point at the place where a body’s shoulders might be” and marked with but a single letter each. With no other wheeled transport available, Hock offers his wagon and mules for the final leg of Mrs. Wilson’s journey, innocently entangling himself in what will turn out to be a mystery unlike any other in the Stay More canon.”

Double Toil and Trouble is the first new volume of fiction in more than a decade by beloved Arkansas writer Donald Harington (1935–2009). Featuring the long-lost suspense novel as well as four previously unpublished or uncollected stories, this volume adds several new chapters to the saga of Stay More, the fictional Ozarks village that serves as the setting for more than a dozen other Harington novels.

Edited by longtime Harington scholar Brian Walter, Double Toil and Trouble also includes an appendix featuring the author’s spirited correspondence with the editor who originally inspired the title novel, providing an insider’s look at the American literary scene and Harington’s own early assessment of his work. Spanning several decades of the author’s career, this volume gives readers a Harington who is at once familiar and fresh as he experiments with new formal possibilities, only to once again endear the vagaries of love, life, and folk language to us.

In 2019, the Press published The Guestroom Novelist: A Donald Harington Miscellany, also edited by Brian Walter, which gathered a career-spanning and eclectic selection of nonfiction by Harington.

Double Toil and Trouble is now available!