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Sometimes a Great Notion Paperback – July 28, 1977
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Top Customer Reviews
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 is now threatened.
If I seem vague in this review it is simply that I don't want to deprive you of the pleasure of discovering this story for yourself. This is one of the forgotten masterpieces. A book to be read, and then passed on to friends who are later bullied to give it back to be read again.
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 surrendered--and to surrender it for any reason other than love is to surrender love..."
An important lesson for us all. We can only hope that Ken has found his eternal sanctuary.
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 younger half-brother who is intellectually curious, a bit rowdy and uncertain, and who is exploring wht it means to be a "Stamper". This interesting rivalry and opposition between the brothers is used to explore a whole range of issues about what it means to be areal man and a real grown-up, and Kesey understands that in contemporary America the two hardly mean the same thing.
Yet at heart, this is a novel that lovingly but urgently explores the idea of family; what it should be, what it is, and what it should never let itself become.Read more ›
This is a truly epic novel, the story of�well what exactly? It�s the story of Leland Stamper, a Yale-educated, twenty-something intellectual grappling with near-suicidal depression in the wake of his mother�s suicide. It�s the story of Henry Stamper, Lee�s older half-brother, a hard-driving, stubburn, smart and narrow-minded bull of a man, determined and passionate, a fighter to his core and strong�oh so strong. It�s the story of Hank Stamper, their father a craggy old cood of a man, cantankerous, disagreeable, hillybilly and bully. It�s the story of the Stamper Family�s logging operation, which persist one automn despite a strike by the local logging union, various sabotage attempts directed by the leaders of said union, the unanimous opposition and anger of the local townsfolk, from Injun Jenny, the local whore, to the manager of the local movie theater. It is the story of Viv�ah Viv�a latter-day Helen of Troy, the lonely wife of Henry Stamper and object of Lee�s intended revenge upon the hated clan of his birth. Oh, and it�s the story of love, death, small town life, big business, labor and a few other incidental subjects here and there.
This was Kesey�s second novel, and while I�d read One Flew Over the Cuckoo�s Nest in college, nothing prepared me for the magnificence of this book. Hell, I hadn�t even heard of it.
First, the writing is brilliant. It�s a tough read at parts. Kesey has a way of jumping from narrative to inner monologue to spoken dialogue and then back to one or the other in no particular order, much as real life tends to unfold. Very hard to follow at times, but when you get the hang of it, it�s brilliant.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant effort, genuinely exceptional and unique worthy of the prizes it won.Published 27 days ago by truthsiekr
If one thing is clear about this novel (and clarity is, I'm afraid, not the first word that comes to mind when I think of Sometimes a Great Notion), then it's that Kesey was... Read morePublished 1 month ago by T. Kara
Wonderful book. Wonderful movie. Honors individualism, something which is being lost in this self-pitying culture.Published 1 month ago by jijung
Ken Kesey is overlooked as an American novelist. Perhaps this is due to his groundbreaking social creation - the Merry Pranksters. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tom Ferrell
did not finish it. The swearing that was so rampant put me off.Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer