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Sometimes a Great Notion (Penguin Classics)
The magnificent second novel from the legendary author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sailor Song is a wild-spirited and hugely powerful tale of an Oregon logging clan. Following the astonishing success of his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey wrote what Charles Bowden calls "one of the few essential books written by an American in the last half century." This wild-spirited tale tells of a bitter strike that rages through a small lumber town along the Oregon coast. Bucking that strike out of sheer cussedness are the Stampers. Out of the Stamper family's rivalries and betrayals Ken Kesey has crafted a novel with the mythic impact of Greek tragedy. * First time in Penguin Classics.
Yes, you have to work but this book will reward you for it.
By W. Weinstein "William Weinstein"
- November 18, 2001
This is the Kesey novel that nobody read after One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest stole all its thunder. Although it was filmed with an great cast (Henry Fonda, Paul Newman) it never gained the reputation that its inferior sibling achieved.
This is, quite simply, one of the great classics of the 20th century. Its pace and moody evocation of the American North West are stunning. The collision between the traditional and the modern, the past and the present make riveting, enthralling reading.
The Stamper family are loggers, rough, hard men and women who care for no ones opinion but their own. They are fighting the union, the neighbours, the town, their whole world. Their motto of "never give an inch" was the title of the film of the book. Into the strike-breaking start of the book comes the dope-smoking, college educated half brother, the prodigal son. His arrival triggers a tidal wave of events that spiral gradually out of control until everything that has been permanent before... read more
By L. Bonner
- April 29, 2005
Sometimes A Great Notion is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest pieces of American literature. I read this book when I was 18, 25, 33, 45 and now once again at my half-century mark. With each read the book has taken on more meaning, more clarity, more subtlety--more importance to living itself.
When I heard of Kesey's passing recently I felt a remorse, a sadness that I had never gone out of my way to meet him and look him in the eye and tell him that this one work of his had touched my life in many ways, moreso than almost any other book I've read.
Other reviews here sum up the narrative well, but there is one passage near the end that cuts far into the meat of the novel:
"...there is always a sanctuary more, a door that can never be forced whatever the force; a last inviolable stronghold that cannot be taken, whatever the attack. Your vote can be taken, your name, your innards, even your life. But that last stronghold can only be... read more
Ken Kesey's Underappreciated Second Novel
By Barron Laycock "Labradorman"
- May 18, 2000
Like "Cuckoo's Nest", this novel is as big and as expansive as the Pacific Northwest it is set in, where Kesey spins the colorful tale of a ogging family pit by circumstance against big business and the negativity of small town America. Describhed with his usual kaliedoscopic powers of wonderfully flowing detail and color, this is a complex and multi-layered tale, with more than enough ingredients for sustained exploration and interest; passion, betrayal, the intricate inner workings of an interesting family of individuals who love and need each other but at the same time want and need to stretch and grow, to be more than just who they are within the confines of that family. In a sense this book is a almost a deliberate self-parody; Kesey shows there are many more ways to be a man than through the mere use of what are usually thought of as masculine characteristics. Thus we have a character like Hank, the ultimate bad-ass Stamper counterposed by Leland, the... read more
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