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Your Turn: Hank Stamper

From Sometimes A Great Notion. Book by Ken Kesey, movie directed by Paul Newman
Nominated by Wayne Thompson

A woman I once knew said that this novel saved her life — she read it while in the hospital being treated for cancer.

"What's it about?"

"Its about a family that runs a sawmill."

Hmmm . . . and so it was three years later that I opened its green-lettered white cover, and a wild world of forests, river, men and women opened before my mind's eye.

"Never give an inch" is the Stamper family motto. Meaning? Meaning that the individual never compromises intention, never gives in to fear — the fear that naturally occurs when one confronts the wonders and terrors of complexity which is our world.

In this confrontation, social mediations offer little help because ... of their oversimplification and sentimentalization. And so Hank Stamper must wrestle alone these primary forces of the universe. Through Hank Stamper, Kesey channels Twain's Huck Finn, a grown-up Huck having "lit" down in 1950s Oregon territory. Pap, too.