Hanger Stout, Awake! arrived to my library hold shelf after I’d lost all recollection of what had called it to my attention. It was written in 1967, and was my first exposure to Jack Matthews. Superficially, it doesn’t seem like my kind of book at all. Clyde Stout, who involuntarily assumes the nickname Hanger, is really into cars, to the point where it’s hard for him to have a conversation that doesn’t involve them. The novel is written in his own words, and his syntax is sometimes a bit tortured. But Hanger is nothing like as dumb as he might at first appear to an over-educated reader, nor to the residents of his town. And his story, although small in scope, is marked by humor, warmth, melancholy, and some surprisingly striking language. Big thumbs up.
A small sample to whet your appetite:
It was a blue ’64 Plymouth. A nice looking car with a stick shift, which you don’t often see a woman driving. I decided to pull the car out backwards. The highway patrolman stood up there directing traffic past. His car was parked in the berm with the red light flashing on top.
Then, when I was just working the log chain under the axle, Jim Boynton pulled up in his ’59 Dodge, and yelled out, Hey Hanger, what you doin boy?
I turned around and glared at him, but he kept on with that Hanger business until I climbed out from under the wrecked Plymouth and said, This ain’t a good day for Chrysler products, Boynton. You better watch your step.
needs more demons? not a bit.