by Chris Crutcher


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Stotan: A cross between a Stoic and a Spartin

It's the last swimming season for Walker, Nortie, Lion, and Jeff, and their coach is building their self-discipline in a grueling four-hour-a-day test of stamina designed to bring them to the outer edge of their capabilities.

As it turns out, Stotan Week is also the week in which secrets are revealed, and the four friends must draw upon their new strengths for an endurance they never knew they'd need.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060094928
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2003
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 819,560
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Chris Crutcher has written nine critically acclaimed novels, an autobiography, and two collections of short stories. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and child protection specialist, Crutcher writes honestly about real issues facing teenagers today: making it through school, competing in sports, handling rejection and failure, and dealing with parents. He has won three lifetime achievement awards for the body of his work: the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award. Chris Crutcher lives in Spokane, Washington.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

November 5

We saw the notice about Stotan Week on the bulletin board just off the deep end of the pool after our early-morning workout today. It was already curling at the edges from the high humidity and chlorine content of the air, a lot the way my skin feels after a good three-hour workout.

"What's a Stotan Week?" Nortie asked, glancing quickly around at the rest of us. It sounded like a riddle.

No response; we just looked at him, then back to the notice, which read:


Dec. 17 to Dec. 21
8 a.m. to Noon Daily
Volunteers Only

Looking for a few good men

"December 17," Nortie said. "That's the start of vacation. How come it's at the start of vacation? What's a Stotan Week?"

Jeff looked at him again. "All in favor of Nortie checking out Stotan Week with Max and reporting back to us, say 'aye.'"

Lion and I said, "Aye."

"Sorry, guys, not me. I'm not asking. I don't even want to know. You do it, Walker; you're the captain."

Max makes Nortie nervous because he's quiet and it's hard to tell what he's thinking a lot of the time. Nortie's not emotionally equipped to talk to Max.

"Nortie," I said, "I'm worried about you. You're a senior in high school. You could actually graduate if the folks in the office forget how to count. You have to learn to talk to people. 9'

"I talk," he said, "but this is a job for the captain. This looks like one of Max's tricks. If I ask him, he'll just look at me like I'm in advanced Special Ed or try to get me to believe somethingreally strange."

We heard the door slam and the flapping of Max's rubber thongs as he came through the equipment room toward the pool deck where we stood. Nortie nodded toward me. Max stopped in the doorway.

I said, "Hi, Max. How's it going?" I let Nortie off the hook. "What's a Stotan Week?"

Max smiled. "Take a chance; show up on the seventeenth and find out."

"Says here it's voluntary," I said. "I like to know what I'm volunteering for."

"Sometimes it's better not to know."

Nortie flinched a little. "I'll bet it's tough, huh?"

Max shrugged. "Wouldn't be surprised."

Lion walked over and sat on the low board, rocking back and forth on his big arms, looking at Max, who's about half his size. "What happens if we decide not to volunteer?"

"You won't get the benefit of Stotan Week," Max said, and walked over to drop the thermometer in the water. He tied the long string to the ladder and let it dangle, then got the chemical testing kit out of the pump room to check the PH and chlorine levels. We had learned all we were going to learn about Stotan Week for today.

"See you guys at workout," he said.

I don't know that any of us will ever know what makes Max tick. He started coaching here at Frost my freshman year and I don't know him much better than I did the first day I walked into the pool area. Not really. He's one of those guys you only know by what they do. You have to guess how they are.

Max is Korean; his last name is Il Song. Not Korea Korean, though; Great Falls, Montana, Korean. He grew up on a ranch just outside of Great Falls-sort of a Korean cowboy, I guess-but he's also spent some time in the Orient, in Korea itself and in Japan, and his parents are from Seoul, so he has a pretty mixed background.

I'll say one thing about him straightaway: he's a tough hombre. He has a third-degree black belt in Tai Kwan Do, which is a kind of karate, and I've seen him kick an apple off the head of a guy 6'8". It doesn't matter that Lion's twice his size.

I know we'll all show for Stotan Week, whatever it is even though it'll certainly alter the extra week of Christmas vacation we're getting this year-and I know something else: it won't be easy.

We start the early-morning workout at 5:30. Max doesn't show up for it, just leaves instructions on the board. He's always been real clear that we get out of swimming just what we put into it, and if we let down because he's not around, we'll never be that good anyway. We've been together long enough that we push each other hard without him, and the morning workouts are just conditioning, not technique, so we don't miss him as long as he lets us know what we're supposed to do. Besides, he says he hates to get up that early, but doesn't mind a bit if we do. It all works out.

The four of us have spent all our high-school years at Frost, and have been pretty much the core of the swimming team. And, except for girlfriends, have been at the core of each other's lives. Back in grade school and Junior High we swam on the summer AAU team together, so we go back a long ways. There's another member of our little group of musketeers, but she's a girl and isn't on the team, though she works out with us. That's Elaine. Talent-wise, she's probably better than any of us, except maybe Nortie, but she's out of the competition business these days--burned out at seventeen-and works out only to keep in shape and be part of our group. She's into more cosmic things now...

. Copyright (c) by Chris Crutcher . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Stotan! 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
trinityM82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good. As with most of Crutcher's works, it is heavy on character development rather than plot. It's told from the perspective of a senior swimmer, Walker Dupree, who is working through becoming an adult with his three friends, all of whom have more problems than he does. It takes place in the early 80s, which does effect the story somewhat, though not in a hugely noticeable way (most students probably wouldn't get the cultural references, but there isn't any weirdness with the lack of technology other than the fact that the characters can't google "stotan" to figure out what it is. Walker's older bother is a drug addict who is selling drugs (and was heavily influenced by the anti-war movement of Vietnam, his parents are old enough to be his grandparents and so are aloof and unable to relate though they care. His friend Lionel lost his family in a boat crash (outlined in the short story "Goin' Fishin') and so lives alone in an apt that should be condemened, but has enough moral fortitude and grace to live and not just survive. Nortie is beaten savagely by his dad and is trying to overcome those traits in himself, and Jeff, the genius of the group eventually gets leukimia and the last 50 pages are about how the group deals with his dying state (though he is still alive at the end of the novel). These 4 make up the core of the swim team, which has no other swimmers because it is being discontinued from the school after this year. They are all brilliantly talented and hope to make states together to celebrate their last year together. Max is their coach and introduces them to Stotan (a cross between a Stoic and a Spartan) before their season properly begins as a life lesson for the boys - that pain is something you cannot fight, you need to just go with it, take it with you, and trust your self and body that it can do more than your brain or emotions might allow you to believe. this turns out to be something the boys need to get through the diagnosis and sickness (dyingness) of Jeff. It's okay, very easy read, fast-paced with swear words to make it authentic, though its more about understanding the world through reading about how the characters come to understand it and work through their problems.
DF6B_SamG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was the first Chris Crutcher book I have read and I found it quite enjoyable. It was fast paced and did not let up. I related to some of the problems that the characters were facging.
madhamster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story of the strong friendship between four 18-year-olds, following their senior year at high school and their swimming competitions. Told by Walk, the captain of the swim team, side issues mentioned are his relationships with girls, his brother and his parents. Jeff, one of the strongest members of the team, is suddenly struck down by an unnamed illness. Although Jeff is still alive at the end of the novel, it is one of the better works about anticipatory grief. Death is an issue for most of the team members: Nortie's brother had committed suicide 12 years earlier, due to their continual abuse by their father; Lion lives alone following the deaths of his parents and younger brother in a boating accident three years earlier. During Stotan Week, a training exercise, these stories come out and their grief is supported by their friends.
annekiwi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I really felt I knew the characters, could I identify with them, and was amazed, impressed, -whatever other positive accolade you can think of - by their determination and perserverance, especially during Stotan week. This came across with a different feel than most of Crutcher's other books.My one criticism of the book is that Mr. Crutcher could have done more research into deadly blood diseases that could come on subtly and then kill someone inside of a year with no treatment that could cure them. That was my biggest frustration with [Deadline] as well. Perhaps he did or perhaps there was supposed to be meaning in the disease never having a name - a nameless enemy that people with similar diseases could identify with. I don't know, but it annoyed me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank youuuu thirteen reasons why for bring me here
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abigaildouglas More than 1 year ago
Four best friends decide to sign up for their tough swim coach's Stotan Week, without knowing what will happen. As they begin the week, the group realizes that they are going to go through a huge physical and emotional test--both in the water and out. Secrets are revealed, stories told, and bodies pushed past their original limits! Once I read this book I was hooked; I love the athletic aspect, but beyond that Crutcher's characters remind me of people I know in real life. The journey these boys take is entertaining, emotional, and exciting, and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read--sports fan or not!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed reading novels by Chris Crutcher and after reading Stotan, i walked away with a book i will always remember. It is a story about life and about losing it. It's about the power of love and the pain of lonliness. Being a High School teenager and an athlete, I found myself really being able to relate to the story. Crutcher does an amazing job of capturing the feel of life in a way thats honest and real. So read this book and enjoy it, because i certainly did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book offers a really cool take on the 'Stotan' (cross between Stoic and Spartan) philosophy of training and living developed by the late Australian track coach Percy Wells Cerutty. Especially recommended for serious high school athletes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read 6 of Chris's books, and this one is the greatest. I recommended it to my friends, all jocks, and within a week they were all screaming: 'Stotan! Stotan!' An all-around great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
stotan by chris crutcher was the best book i've ever read! I am like any normal teenager, and i hate to read, but this book was great! you will enjoy it, so take some time and read!