Sometimes a Great Notion

( 21 )

Overview

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. A bitter strike is raging in a small lumber town along the Oregon coast. Bucking that strike out of sheer cussedness are the Stampers: Henry, the fiercely vital and overpowering patriarch; Hank, the son who has spent his life trying to live up to his father; and Viv, who fell in love with Hank's exuberant machismo but now finds it wearing ...
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Sometimes a Great Notion

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Overview

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. A bitter strike is raging in a small lumber town along the Oregon coast. Bucking that strike out of sheer cussedness are the Stampers: Henry, the fiercely vital and overpowering patriarch; Hank, the son who has spent his life trying to live up to his father; and Viv, who fell in love with Hank's exuberant machismo but now finds it wearing thin. And then there is Leland, Henry's bookish younger son, who returns to his family on a mission of vengeance - and finds himself fulfilling it in ways he never imagined. Out of the Stamper family's rivalries and betrayals Ken Kesey has crafted a novel with the mythic impact of Greek tragedy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140045291
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/1977
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 148,386
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 11.08 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Kesey was born in 1935 and grew up in Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon and later studied at Stanford with Wallace Stegner, Malcolm Cowley, Richard Scowcroft, and Frank O' Connor. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, his first novel, was published in 1962. His second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, followed in 1964. His other books include Kesey's Garage Sale, Demon Box, Caverns (with O. U. Levon), The Further Inquiry, Sailor Song, and Last Go Round (with Ken Babbs). His two children's books are Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear and The Sea Lion. Ken Kesey died on November 10, 2001.

Charles Bowden's is the author of Inferno and A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 26, 2008

    The Great American Novel

    I have read the books that are commonly referred to as "The Great American Novel," such as: "The Great Gatsby," "Moby Dick," and "Huckleberry Finn." However, I have never before read a book that made me invest my emotions, focus my attention, or identify with characters as much as this one has. <BR/><BR/>"Sometimes a Great Notion" addresses some (if not all) of the most important and often discussed American themes. Western U.S. Individualism vs. Eastern U.S. Intellectualism, Family Loyalty, Sibling Rivalry, Selfishness vs. Selflessness--all of these themes can be found in Ken Kesey's great epic of the Northwest. <BR/><BR/>This novel is probably the last and most perfect of the literary period known as Modernism. Influenced greatly by William Faulkner, this novel takes the multiple P.O.V. method used in Fauklner's "Absalom, Absalom!" and perfects it, weaving in and out of the character's minds to give the reader a huge tableau of ideas and opinions.<BR/><BR/>The characters in Kesey's novel make you care about the fate of the Stamper family. Kesey has fully fleshed out more characters than you can count on one hand. There is no novel that I would recommend more than "Sometimes a Great Notion."

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2004

    a true picture of the pacific northwest

    kesey does a masterful job of capturing the strengths and faults of those that carved out the pacific northwest in a story that is impossible to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 1999

    a moving masterpiece of magnanimous, mountainous, proportions

    After I read the book, I set it down, somewhat disappointed. A day later, after some contemplation, I realized the stunning realism of the novel, and after realizing this, I also learned something, perhaps unintentional, of the ending sequence. The novel goes into the nature of love and how our society has perhaps manipulated it in such a way that it has become a mediocre, meaningless farce. The novel is exhilirating and enlightening. I highly recommend it if you've got a little time to burn.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Excellent

    Exceptional writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2008

    Twice as long as it needed to be.

    35 years ago I gave up on this book shortly after starting it, but I finally forced myself to finish it recently. It took me at least seven weeks to get through it: it was that boring. The writing and themes are actually pretty good, but the endless, pointless descriptions of what each person in town happens to be doing at each moment, all the descriptions of weather and scenery, and irrelevant side dramas just slow the pace to a frustrating crawl. I truly think this book should've been cut to half its size in order to speed up the pace: nothing would have been lost in doing so. All the main events were compressed into a single chapter near the end, and the climax wasn't worth the voluminous material leading up to it. I also didn't like the constant switching between narrators: it was too confusing when picking up the book after a break to try to remember who was telling the story at that point, and because it was so boring, there were a lot of such breaks. Readers who like stories about real men, in the style of 'The Right Stuff,' should like this book's theme, and anyone fond of reading about Oregon biota and rural living in the 1960s will probably enjoy it. For anybody else, I'd say skip it if you can. Kesey may have a reputation for being cool, like in 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,' but this book is nothing like that story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    As powerful as the river that runs through it

    Not much else to say about this classic that hasn't already been said. I found the dynamic between Hank and Leland to be almost overpoweringly intense, and the unfolding of their story was as gripping as any thriller I've ever read. When I finally put the book down I felt as if I'd emerged from a long winter in the Oregon logging country. A must-read for anyone with a passion for literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    not as great as Cuckoo's Nest

    I had to read this novel for a project in my English class. I had previously read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and I loved it, so i was expecting to really enjoy this story. However, I was greatly disappointed with this novel. I found Leland Stamper to be extremely annoying and I didn't really understand why this story had to be sooooo long becuase i did not find it very interesting. Maybe I'm too young to understand the significance of the story.. but i don't know. On the other hand, I really enjoyed Kesey's method of writing from different perspectives. I had never read a novel using that particular writing method and it was a very unique reading experience.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2002

    Always a Great Notion

    Remarkable in its ability to demonstrate the social dynamic of its era, Sometimes a Great Notion triumphs as some of the greatest fiction of its age. Kesey's knack for creating and contrasting unique, yet ultimately symbolic characters really dominates this novel, and the book really evolves into a study of not just characters, but of philosophies and popular beliefs as well. Its insights into the meaning of family and life challenge one to examine and rethink their own perceptions, and in many cases, to modify them. A solid and endearing plot combine with a wonderful writing style and an inspiring message to create a truly remarkable story. Sometimes a Great Notion stands along with the works of Steinbeck, Kerouac, and even to a lesser extent Shaw, as a great indicator of its people's tempermant, personality, and condition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2000

    A man who knows what he writes.

    From the people to the land, Kesey seems to know what he writes. I found the characters to be realistic but the author has a way of bringing you into thier thoughts and feelings. The greatest compliment I can give this book is that I wish I could write one like it. Enjoy

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    Posted October 27, 2008

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