Sometimes a Great Notion

Sometimes a Great Notion


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The magnificent second novel from the legendary author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140045291
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1977
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 103,459
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 11.08(h) x 1.08(d)
Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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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Sometimes a Great Notion 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
R_Downey More than 1 year ago
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.

"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.

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.

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."
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
NickFG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first 150 pages. Oh. My. God. The first 150 pages took me two years and three attempts to break through. Finally, this past summer, I plowed ahead, and I am thankful I did. It's almost like Kesey wrote the beginning as a challenge: I wrote an amazing novel, but only those of you who can pass through the first part are worthy of the entire book. The shifting point of view and flashes between various times is very difficult to follow, mostly because Kesey gives so few clues when he has done either. It gets easier in the middle and end of the novel, more traditional, and also the reader just becomes more accustomed to his style. By the end it's a page-turner. The novel is so long that I found myself deeply invested in the characters lives, desperate to know how this tension that had been building for 400 pages was finally going to break, or not.
sproutchild on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this almost 30 years ago and was bowled over. Found it to be compelling, layered and relevant. One of those books that I'd like to re-read and see if it was the book or the time in my life.
Gwendydd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely stunning. Kesey takes a subject I normally wouldn't care about and a group of characters I normally wouldn't like and makes me really care about their outcome. The writing in this is amazing: scenes are written from several points of view simultaneously, so you get an amazing understanding of the characters and their actions. The landscape of Oregon is as active and strong a character as any of the people in the book. It's not the kind of story I generally enjoy, but the writing is just so phenomenal that this ranks among the best books I have ever read.
JonathanGorman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The one major downfall of the book is that it is long, longer than it needs to be. That being said, the author does a wonderful job of establishing the characters and the setting. You'll really care about all the folks before the end of the book. Well, at least the likeable folks, and most are. He uses a couple of different narrative techniques to present different perspectives of the same event that might be off-putting to some folks, but I rather liked them.If you're a fast reader of modern literature, I'd say go ahead and read this book. Don't expect it to have a similar feel to One Flew over the Cuckoo Nest thought.
BeachWriter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first read Sometimes a Great Notion in the 1960s. At the time, I was bowled over by the sweep and scope of the story. Later, of course, I was disappointed by Hollywood's feeble attempt to squeeze it into a movie. Returning to it now, 40 years after my first reading of it, I was even more impressed by the storytelling and the ability of Kesey to get inside the heads of several characters simultaneously. This is a great book, and one that should be read by everyone who appreciates great literature.
abirdman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A large, grand family-saga type of novel, much of it set in the Oregon forest that's so wet it will feel like the book is swelling up from the damp.
gazzy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is the american brawny, thought provoking, iconoclastic, individual's last hurrah, set in the Pacific Northwest, the final frontier.
jimphelps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorites books. Wonderful writing and a wonderful feel of the Pacific Northwest. Traveling to Oregon or Washington? Buy this book. Read it on your travels.
R_Taylor More than 1 year ago
Phenomenal I have to admit that I struggled with Kesey's style and almost gave up on this book maybe three different times. If you're reading it and having those same struggles, please do yourself a big favor and don't put it aside. I'm so glad I finished it. To say it's an amazing book isn't quite enough: It's an amazing experience. The plot and the character dynamics are incredibly powerful. This book is so much -- bold, daring, intriguing, insightful, and at times gut-wrenching. I seldom re-read novels, but it will be a pleasure to give this one a second read someday.
Jack_Dee More than 1 year ago
Exceptional writing.
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