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Jack Matthews was an Ohio fiction writer, essayist and book collector. Author's Page: www. About Publish Join Sign In.


Readers Benefits of registering Where are my ebooks? Ask it above. Hanger Stout, Awake! Clyde Stout is a high school graduate in a small Ohio town; he loves tinkering with cars and dreaming about his girlfriend. He is coasting This slender page coming-of-age novella was first published in and reprinted several times. Now, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, it is available as an ebook. It seemed to me blessed with honesty, clarity, directness, proportion and a lovely humor. He has interests and aspirations, but no definite goals. 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.

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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 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. Hanger Stout stays in your memory, hanging on, as only a Champion can, for a long, long time. Suderman, in Critique Atlanta , vol.

I think of every literary work as a place where three classes of people come together: the author, the reader, and the characters. The work is importantly, if not solely, definable in terms of these three classes and their relationships to one another and to the story or poem which is the arena of their convention. Thus, every story can be viewed as, in varying degrees, an occasion and ceremony of passionate learning.

All stories are philosophical probes, hypotheses, heuristic journeys, maps of powerful and conceivable realities, speculations, ceremonies of discovery. All these, every one. Some attempts to write a good story work beautifully; others prove sadly unworthy, false, flat, silly.

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Nevertheless, an author should have the courage and energy to experiment constantly and knowledgeably i. Man's character is his fate, but he should never let this fact inhibit his real freedom of the real moment. I celebrate this truth in my stories, as well as in the act of writing them. Many contemporary fiction writers—especially in America—are displaced persons: they don't really live in any particular location, they merely reside there. But Jack Matthews's mature imagination lives in the American heartland where it was shaped. In fact, Matthews is at his best when he is taking the pulse of Middle America not merely a geographical area, of course, but a state of consciousness extending far beyond Matthews's native Ohio.

In his six novels and in many of his remarkable short stories the reader can sense the wide-open spaces of the Midwest, the often-closed minds of its inhabitants, the limitless possibilities of success and failure, the comic and the tragic in ironic balance.

He does so, however, without the didacticism of Lewis and with more of the comic and a surer control of the dramatic. Matthews's early novels are all rather short, though they are richly developed and populated with memorable characters—originals with much more than just literary validity, ranging from gas-station attendants and warehouse laborers to used-car salesmen and battered cowboys.

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Most of them are essentially innocents, viewed with unsentimental compassion as they try to cope with what they see of the confusion around them; but they carry their innocence in interestingly differing ways. The most openly naive of his characters is "Hanger" Stout, the narrator of Matthews's first novel, who relates a poignant but truly funny account of how he was tricked into competing for the championship of a nonexistent sport "free-hanging" by one's hands.

Genuinely unaware of how much others are using him, and often unaware of the refreshing comedy in his tale, "Hanger" emerges from his experiences relatively untouched, still kind and trusting, a most convincing original. Less convincing is the self-conscious narrator of Beyond the Bridge , a middle-aged man who narrowly escapes death when the Silver Bridge collapses, plunging a number of people into the Ohio River.

The Way It Is - and Was (Book Review) - ProQuest

Knowing that his family expects him to be crossing the bridge at that hour, he seizes this unique chance to shed all his responsibilities, to disappear and begin a new life elsewhere. Such a break with one's past is not that easy, Matthews demonstrates, and the novel offers some nicely detailed moments in the mind of the neurotic narrator. When compared to Matthews's other fiction, however, the action here seems excessively internalized, and the symbolism often too overt.

Matthews's ironic sense of humor surfaces as witty sexual satire in The Tale of Asa Bean , where the innocent is a former Ph.

Asa, burdened with an IQ of more than and an over-active libido, is a compulsive verbalist with a tendency to drop recondite phrases often in Latin at inappropriate moments—a habit that regularly scares off the women he so desperately wants. In The Charisma Campaigns Matthews takes a calculated risk in creating a character who is announced as possessing magnetic charisma—and, indeed, convincingly projects it on the page.

A used-car dealer in a small Ohio town, Rex McCoy plays with a full deck of corny sales slogans and gimmicks, but like nearly all of Matthews's characters, he moves far beyond any stereotyped model. His cunning machinations and energetic naivety, his success in selling cars and his failures in other aspects of life, all blend into a fascinating portrait.


It is easy to agree with Anthony Burgess, who proclaimed it "an American classic. In Pictures of the Journey Back , set in the early s, Matthews portrays a trip from Kansas to Colorado by three disparate characters: a weathered ex-rodeo hand, a confused college girl estranged from her mother, and the girl's hippie lover, an aspiring filmmaker. The cowboy insists upon returning the girl to her dying mother because, he argues, it is "only right," and the boyfriend accompanies them to make a film of the total experience. Here is the vehicle for the unending dialectics of youth vs.

More ambitious technically than his earlier work, Pictures employs a shifting point of view to examine a concern that occupies much of Matthews's fiction—a sense that something is slowly being lost: "the sacred ideals of one's family and culture," as Matthews sees it, "what the Romans termed Pietas. In his most recent and longest novel, Matthews sets the action in on the American frontier. Thad's Candide-like journey is not without its moving and painful lessons, but Matthews infuses a marvelous comic energy into this picaresque novel, and the dominant tone is that of a boisterous tall tale.

Like Huck Finn, Thad is a splendid innocent—despite his natural "sass" and the sophistication he thinks he has acquired. All of Matthews's novels have distinct merit, inviting and convincingly sustaining subsequent readings, but it would be a serious mistake to measure his achievement solely by these longer works. During the past four decades, well over of his stories have appeared in major American quarterlies and magazines with a number of them reprinted in prize anthologies , and significantly, this is the genre that has been receiving most of his energies in recent years.