Sometimes a Great Notion

It was a great notion to pick this one up for a re-read almost 15 years since I last read it. My vague memories of rain and river were confirmed, but I had forgotten about the lyrical prose, the beat, the cadence of the language, the way the story gripped you until the bitter end. The Stamper family has carved a place for themselves on the riverbank in Oregon, daily battling to keep the bank from crumbling into the river. The story drops you in the middle of the union dispute that Hank Stamper is thumbing his nose up at (his family business un-unionized), with an arm left dangling with the middle finger from a hook above the house, taunting onlookers. We shuffle into the Snag, a local bar filled with neon signs that act as trophies for the other bars Teddy has put out of business, we find Hank’s wife Viv crumpled damp in the corner, leafing through a family album. She takes us on the tale of what led up to all of this.
“Never give an inch!” plaque on the wall above Hank’s bed growing up, old Henry inflexible and full of tales of logging in yesteryear. The family logging business, Joe Ben staying at the house while his own is built in town, perpetual enthusiasm up until the minute of his drowning as the river rises to catch him but not float the log he is pinned underneath. Half brother Lee, out of his gourd back East, comes to help out and harbors a revenge fantasy to free himself from his childhood demons of spying on his mother and brother Hank.
One of the best books I’ve been carried away by in recent times.