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Sometimes a Great Notion (Penguin Classics)

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Sometimes a Great Notion (Penguin Classics) Cover

ISBN13: 9780143039860
ISBN10: 0143039865
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

Often called the "quintessential Oregon novel," Sometimes a Great Notion bears remarkable similarity to our fabled Beaver State winters: seemingly sprawling and unending at first, characterized by incessant rain, somewhat disorienting until you become acclimated, yet ultimately compelling, fecund, and, dare I say, necessary. Ken Kesey is perhaps Oregon's most famous adopted son, known best, of course, for his debut novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the time he spent with the Merry Pranksters. Not only is Sometimes a Great Notion Kesey's masterwork (Bartleby : Moby-Dick :: Cuckoo's Nest : Notion), it very well may encapsulate the American ethic and landscape as well as any other novel of its era.

Concerned with the ongoing timber strike in the fictional coastal range town of Wakonda, Sometimes a Great Notion revolves around the very proud and unyielding Stamper family, who decide to continue logging despite the acrimony and pleading of their neighbors. Literally teeming with symbolic imagery, the novel engenders some conflicted loyalties in the reader, as even the most reprehensible behavior on the part of some of the characters manages to elicit our sympathies. Kesey's unique prose structure, rich in style and nuance, stands in stark contrast to the inability of most of the characters to openly express themselves, their desires, and their feelings. One could easily make the case that this book is mainly about the labor struggle or encroaching modernity or the timber industry or Oregon itself; but, at its roots, it seems to be about the underlying and driving motivations that characterize the complexity of interpersonal relationships. While propelled by some of the basest of human emotions — hubris, stubbornness, revenge, jealousy, envy — Sometimes a Great Notion is also marked by some of the noblest: love, loyalty, camaraderie, and kindness.

This is quite the rewarding work, and lovers of all types of fiction will undoubtedly find many things remarkable about this epic novel. Kesey's masterpiece deserves its place amidst the canon of great American novels, yet is rarely mentioned in the same breath as some of the more widely accepted classics. Not merely a book about the Pacific Northwest, Sometimes a Great Notion is about the unseen intricacies that shape and command who we are, where we live, and how we relate to others, ourselves, and the places we call home. Come look... it's all there to see.

From Sometimes a Great Notion:

For the reverberation often exceeds through silence the sound that sets it off; the reaction occasionally outdoes by way of repose the event that stimulated it; and the past not uncommonly takes a while to happen, and some long time to figure out.

Recommended by Jeremy, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"A contemporary classic....This book...and its creator have become part of our consciousness and memory." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"[Kesey is] an exuberant storyteller....The words flow...in a slangy, spermy, belt-of-bourbon surge, intimate and muscular." Esquire

Synopsis:

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.

About the Author

Ken Kesey (1935-2001) studied writing as a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. In addition to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, he published numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction, including two children's books.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Anna Jackson, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Anna Jackson)
Wow - crazy cool, dense, long, one of a kind, very Oregon, you can smell the trees and the earth and the rain and it just breaks your heart the tragedy of it all.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
lukas, January 12, 2011 (view all comments by lukas)
Is this the definitive Oregon novel? Big, brawny and almost palpably soaked in coastal rain, Ken Kesey's ambitious, sprawling, thick follow-up to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is at least one of the top contenders for the title. For fans of "East of Eden," Thomas Wolfe & logging.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
DC, December 19, 2010 (view all comments by DC)
So glad to see this on the Daily Dose. And glad to be nudged to re-read it. I have been recommending it for years, but have only read it once, in the 70's. It's time to pick it up again.
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View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780143039860
Author:
Kesey, Ken
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Introduction by:
Bowden, Charles
Introduction:
Bowden, Charles
Author:
Bowden, Charles
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Strikes and lockouts
Subject:
Lumber trade
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Oregon
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Revised
Series:
Penguin Classics
Publication Date:
20060931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
736
Dimensions:
7.72x5.06x1.31 in. 1.09 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Sometimes a Great Notion (Penguin Classics) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.50 In Stock
Product details 736 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143039860 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Often called the "quintessential Oregon novel," Sometimes a Great Notion bears remarkable similarity to our fabled Beaver State winters: seemingly sprawling and unending at first, characterized by incessant rain, somewhat disorienting until you become acclimated, yet ultimately compelling, fecund, and, dare I say, necessary. Ken Kesey is perhaps Oregon's most famous adopted son, known best, of course, for his debut novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the time he spent with the Merry Pranksters. Not only is Sometimes a Great Notion Kesey's masterwork (Bartleby : Moby-Dick :: Cuckoo's Nest : Notion), it very well may encapsulate the American ethic and landscape as well as any other novel of its era.

Concerned with the ongoing timber strike in the fictional coastal range town of Wakonda, Sometimes a Great Notion revolves around the very proud and unyielding Stamper family, who decide to continue logging despite the acrimony and pleading of their neighbors. Literally teeming with symbolic imagery, the novel engenders some conflicted loyalties in the reader, as even the most reprehensible behavior on the part of some of the characters manages to elicit our sympathies. Kesey's unique prose structure, rich in style and nuance, stands in stark contrast to the inability of most of the characters to openly express themselves, their desires, and their feelings. One could easily make the case that this book is mainly about the labor struggle or encroaching modernity or the timber industry or Oregon itself; but, at its roots, it seems to be about the underlying and driving motivations that characterize the complexity of interpersonal relationships. While propelled by some of the basest of human emotions — hubris, stubbornness, revenge, jealousy, envy — Sometimes a Great Notion is also marked by some of the noblest: love, loyalty, camaraderie, and kindness.

This is quite the rewarding work, and lovers of all types of fiction will undoubtedly find many things remarkable about this epic novel. Kesey's masterpiece deserves its place amidst the canon of great American novels, yet is rarely mentioned in the same breath as some of the more widely accepted classics. Not merely a book about the Pacific Northwest, Sometimes a Great Notion is about the unseen intricacies that shape and command who we are, where we live, and how we relate to others, ourselves, and the places we call home. Come look... it's all there to see.

From Sometimes a Great Notion:

For the reverberation often exceeds through silence the sound that sets it off; the reaction occasionally outdoes by way of repose the event that stimulated it; and the past not uncommonly takes a while to happen, and some long time to figure out.

"Review" by , "A contemporary classic....This book...and its creator have become part of our consciousness and memory."
"Review" by , "[Kesey is] an exuberant storyteller....The words flow...in a slangy, spermy, belt-of-bourbon surge, intimate and muscular."
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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