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Last Go Round: A Real Western Paperback – July 1, 1995

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Last Go Round: A Real Western + Sailor Song + Demon Box
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140176675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140176674
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on a childhood campfire tale, Kesey and Babbs attempt to recreate the Old West in their story of a black cowboy, a Nez Perce Indian and a young white boy who vie for the first world title of broncbuster.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The genesis of Kesey's latest effort lies in a campfire story, told to him by his father, about the 1911 Pendleton (Oregon) Round-up and the crowning of the "first" world champion "broncbuster," Jonathan E. Lee Spain. Whether Spain actually deserved to win was the subject of some controversy. His chief rivals were a Nez Perce Indian and an African American, both of whom gave memorable performances, but who apparently were not, in the minds of some, "suitable" exemplars of the cowboy myth. The fuzziness of the acutal historical record allows Kesey and Babbs "to conjure our three spectral riders out of the old tall tales" and to present the event from the perspective of Spain as he comes head to head with questions of race, power, and values. Their story is full of memorable characters and entertains in a way that should appeal to a much broader audience than most of Kesey's recent work. This vintage Kesey-his best effort since Sometimes a Great Notion (1964)-will likely engender much interest. A worthy addition to any academic, public, or even high school library.
--David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ken Kesey was born in Colorado in 1935. He founded the Merry Pranksters in the sixties and became a cult hero, a phenomenon documented by Tom Wolfe in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He died in 2001.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. Moore-Whitney on April 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a complete and perfect, factual, historical and deathly boring scholarly tome on the first big Pendleton rodeo, this isn't it. What this is, is a great little book that tells a great yarn about some people who may or may not have any resemblance to people that may or may not have been in Pendleton, OR around the time that this book is set.
The characters are vivid and the relationship between them is both ribald & enlightening. The young Spain comes up against the elder Jackson & Fletcher. They show him around their world, a world that they have made a niche in for themselves in, and Spain comes out the other side older & wiser. Kesey points out many of the injustices that faced the Indians and Afro Americans in the new west. Spain learns about strength, weakness and right and wrong is an age where they are still working out what these things mean.
Kesey shows some of the great mastery of language that made him a hero to many readers with Sometimes a Great Notion. There are sections of this book that are as good as any he ever wrote. (As Spain is nodding off to sleep in Jackson's teepee he watches the smoke curl toward the roof, turn into snakes and then into tiny delicate horses he doesn't want to scare away.)
This is a great read. Apparently there are people who have an issue with Kesey for taking people out of history and creating a story from their legends, and having a different interpretation form the accepted legend. Kesey was a storyteller, not a historian. There are great pictures of the real people whose story Kesey has attempted to fictionalize. If you want a fun and light book from a master storyteller, this is a good choice. Don't get hung up with facts, enjoy yourself and buy this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on July 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
During an interview on Bravo TV's excellent series INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO, Dennis Hopper (an artistic, historical and spiritual brother of Ken Kesey) shared a brilliant anecdote illustrating the nature of art. While teaching a lesson on painting, Thomas Hart Benton told Dennis Hopper to "Think loose and paint tight".
The late Ken Kesey's unique literary gifts and contributions lay in his incredible ability to "think loose and write tightly."
In both of his great works, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, as well as some of his journalistic writing, Kesey brilliantly channeled magnificent, electric, free-floating, randomly abstract and stream of conscious ideas into tight, elegant sentences. Kesey forged the missing link between the spontaneous prose of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs and the Beats with the laser-like precision of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
While LAST GO ROUND certainly makes for a fast and fun read, it does not represent his finest work. Attempting to write a combination camp fire story/dime store novel Kesey allows himself to invert his precious balance.
Thinking tightly in the surprisingly demanding genre bounds of oral history and pulp, Kesey simply tries too hard. LAST GO ROUND lacks the spontaneous element of creation that courses throughout all his greatest work. Creatively he appears to be straining and reaching for ideas that should come easily.
While the creativity seems pushed, the writing itself appears unpolished and unfocused, relatively devoid of the razor sharp perceptions that one expects from a great author.
Ultimately though, this is really a small matter. Based on a historical event- The first Pendleton Round-Up (based in my hometown), Kesey does infuse his narrative with rich local color and texture.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steve Premo on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I must take issue with Pati Reitenour's complaint that the book was not historically accurate. I'm sure that's true, but that is why it is a "dime western." It is in the tradition of western adventure books published in the 19th century which would take real characters and weave a tall tale from a thread of truth. The point is entertainment, which this book delivers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book tells the story of the first Pendleton Round-Up. The Round-Up was organized to settle once and for all who was the greatest cowboy in the world. Contestants arrived from across the continent to vie for the prize, a magnificent saddle. Three of the men who came to try their luck were Jackson Sundown, a Nez Perce Indian, George Fletcher, an African American from Pendleton, and Jonathan E. Lee Spain, a youngster from Tennessee. When the final scores were tallied, these three came out in a draw, so special events had to be added to the contest to determine the winner.

The book tells the story from Spain's point-of-view. As one of the youngest contestants, his experience with rodeo competitions was limited. The authors take us behind the scenes to see how the rodeo favorites took him under their wing, teaching him more than just how to compete in the ring. The story is quite entertaining, with a full cast of characters, from Buffalo Bill to a young girl named Meyerhoff, who could ride like the wind. The only odd part of the story is the beginning, which is set in modern times, with Spain as an old man- -it's a bit hard to understand where the plot is going at first, but once it finally gets going, there's no stopping it.
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