“I like it, and warmly admire his sturdy subject and delicately restrained treatment. It seemed to me blessed with honesty, clarity, directness, proportion and a lovely humor. . . .” Eudora Welty
See also: The Cars in Hanger Stout Awake (vintage car photo gallery), Hanger at 50 Years: A Rumination, by Robert Nagle (the preface in the 2nd edition). sample chapter, and The Hanger Stout Discussion & Study Guide. Semi-related: an Internet personality on YouTube who offers people money for free hanging in real life. Here’s another video by the same person.
Publication Date: March 20, 2012, expanded 2nd edition in May 2018 (Version History)
Clyde Stout is a high school graduate in a small Ohio town; he loves tinkering with cars and dreaming about his girlfriend. He has interests and aspirations, but no definite goals. He is coasting….until he discovers he has a new talent: the ability to hang from a metal bar longer than anybody! Others start calling him “Hanger,” and an out-of-town stranger, trying to help the boy to profit from this talent, organizes various “hanging competitions.” At first, Hanger goes along, but after a while he becomes suspicious of the stranger’s motives; is he for real? Hanger is no longer a boy and not yet an adult – but he finds himself in a world where older adults are constantly offering advice and supervision and alleged wisdom. Until then, Hanger had always been an amiable and trusting sort; now Hanger needs to look at things through adult eyes — can he adapt to a world which seems less safe or reliable but possibly more profound? This slender 150 page novel was first published by Harcourt in 1967 and reprinted several times. Now it is available as an ebook. Time Magazine described it as a “gentle first novel told with a fine ear for adolescent patois,” and National Book Award winning poet William Stafford called it one of the most neglected works of the 20th century. Southern novelist Eudora Welty said about the book: “I like it, and warmly admire his sturdy subject and delicately restrained treatment. It seemed to me blessed with honesty, clarity, directness, proportion and a lovely humor. . . .” The book is a fun and easy read… Not too much seems to happen in the novel, and the protagonist (we’re sorry to report) is not a werewolf or vampire or time traveler or wizard or superhero; to all appearances, he’s just an ordinary guy, but if you penetrate beneath those appearances, you’ll find that he’s defiantly and unforgettably unique. This book will help you remember how it felt to be a teenager…before you needed to start worrying about more serious matters. Like life, or what passes for life in the world of adults.
About the Author
86 year old author Jack Matthews has not only written more than 15 works of fiction, he was distinguished professor of Fiction Writing at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio for over 4 decades. Winner of Guggenheim and several arts grants, Matthews has been anthologized widely, translated into several languages and nominated for a National Book Award. His own books have been praised by Eudora Welty, Anthony Burgess, Shirley Ann Grau, Tom O’Brien, Doris Grumbach, Walker Percy and a host of other famous and highly accomplished authors. In 2011 he published the novel Gambler’s Nephew (about the accidental killing of a slave by an abolitionist while trying to save him) and a writing guide.