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Sometimes a Great Notion | [Ken Kesey]

Sometimes a Great Notion

A literary icon sometimes seen as a bridge between the Beat Generation and the hippies, Ken Kesey scored an unexpected hit with his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. His successful follow-up, Sometimes a Great Notion, was also transformed into a major motion picture, directed by and starring Paul Newman. Here, Oregon’s Stamper family does what it can to survive a bitter strike dividing their tiny logging community. And as tensions rise, delicate family bonds begin to fray and unravel.
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Publisher's Summary

A literary icon sometimes seen as a bridge between the Beat Generation and the hippies, Ken Kesey scored an unexpected hit with his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. His successful follow-up, Sometimes a Great Notion, was also transformed into a major motion picture, directed by and starring Paul Newman.

Oregon’s Stamper family does what it can to survive a bitter strike dividing their tiny logging community. And as tensions rise, delicate family bonds begin to fray and unravel.

©1963, 1964 Ken Kesey (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

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  •  
    Forrest 04-25-11
    Forrest 04-25-11 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Favorite Book"

    If you liked The Count of Monte Christo, Atlas Shrugged, East of Eden, or On the Road you will love this book because it finishes the thought that these books started, but with more humanity, humor and complexity.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Whipsnead Port Townsend, WA, US 03-30-12
    Whipsnead Port Townsend, WA, US 03-30-12 Member Since 2015
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    "A great book in print brought to life"
    If you could sum up Sometimes a Great Notion in three words, what would they be?

    Strong Northwest tale


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hank. He was the hero but also an antihero. Kesey brought out his inner thoughts and
    downplayed the obvious, i.e. the outer action. He was capable of great love, for his
    father, Viv, and Joe Ben but had some trouble expressing this love.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Stechschulte???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The Road. No Country for Old Men. All of them have been well done but
    the narrator had more voices in this novel and did all of them extremely well.


    Who was the most memorable character of Sometimes a Great Notion and why?

    Joe Ben. He was the guy we'd all like to have as a friend. Irrepressible joy and
    boundless energy. He wouldn't hurt anyone on purpose. A man who lived his
    deep faith but was worldly in every respect.


    Any additional comments?

    As happened when I read this book 45 years ago in print, I did not want this audiobook
    to end.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Pensacola, FL, United States 01-30-13
    John Pensacola, FL, United States 01-30-13 Member Since 2015

    razorjohn

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    "A very worthwhile sleeper classic"

    I had read in several literary forums that SAGN was lesser known but actually a better book than his more famous One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I have not yet read Cuckoo's Nest (loved the film) but I have to say that SAGN lived up to and exceeded my expectations and I would have to place it amongst the greatest of the modern classics I've ever read. Starting out, the plain stark bare-bones writing style reminded me of Cormac McCarthy, another of my all-time favorites. Kesey has an incredible gift to put his reader inside the minds of all the characters, both protagonists and antagonists and other, so much so that I found myself sympathizing and empathizing with even the alleged bad guys. Combine that with all the symbolism, brilliant characterization and quest for universal truths and you have an incredibly enjoyable read! This is a challenging book because Kesey keeps switching the perspective from 1st person from character to character to 3rd person omniscient. Also, the narrator's voice was very appropriate for the novel. SAGN is easily one of the more rewarding reads I've had the pleasure to experience on audible. I'm off to more literary adventures with Kesey and I'd advise all other avid readers of challenging modern classics to do the same.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty 09-12-12
    Betty 09-12-12 Member Since 2015

    diverduck

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Kesey writes Oregon like King writes Maine"
    Where does Sometimes a Great Notion rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's hard to say. I have listened to over 100 audio books, perhaps more. My first experience with them was when I was a little girl back in the 60's and they were on LP records. So of course nothing can compete with the stories like The Little Match Girl and The Tin Soldier read by a master, male voice I could play on my little record player in the privacy of my bedroom at the age of five, and weep without being teased by my older brothers and sisters. The LP had sound effects too!Sometimes A Great Notion is a wonderful, earthy story of a Oregonian logging family that is dysfunctional. The father is judgmental and runs his family like his business...under a saw, as in cutting words, being blunt. Union strikers try and intimidate the family into stopping their non--union, independently owned logging business for the season and that isn't going to happen. The seasonal help is intimated and refuses to work for the family, so the prodigal, hippie, little brother comes home to help. You would think his father was grateful to have anyone help, nope, he has to get his judgements in like barbed fish hooks, and both men, really father and both sons are hard headed. The women smooth things over.I had always loved the film adaption of this book with Henry Fonda and Paul Newman. There is a scene of the brotherinlaw getting trapped under a log in the water. Paul Newman tries over and over again to start a large chain saw. Both men thinking they have all the time in the world--help will eventually come. The water starts to rise and the log rolls a bit on the brotherinlaw, laying him back into the water, up to his chin, then his nose, then he is under water. Paul keeps giving him mouth to mouth and you know that Paul's character will do this all night. His brotherinlaw is such a loving and joy filled father and husband--always with a joke to try and keep peace between father (Fonda) and his two sons. He starts to laugh under water and Paul is yelling at him to stop, but it makes him laugh more...and he drowns. The tone of the film turned dark from there. I hadn't read the book and this author also wrote One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (I did read and have it in a leather bound copy I love it that much), so when I saw Sometimes A Great Notion was on Audible, I had to hear it. I couldn't wait to read it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    All the descriptions of the coast, forest and river in such rich detail. I was born and raised in Oregon. A stone's throw from Lincoln City. My family made weekend day trips to every inch of the coast and camping along the Santiam River every summer. My father, brothers and husband grew up hunting and fishing too many places I can list here. Kesey knows the areas well.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I highly recommend the film by the same name


    Any additional comments?

    If you've read One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and loved it, you will likely love this book too.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary SAYVILLE, NY, United States 09-30-12
    Mary SAYVILLE, NY, United States 09-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Poetry in Motion"
    Would you listen to Sometimes a Great Notion again? Why?

    I will keep listening to this forever.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Sometimes a Great Notion?

    Kesey is intensely artful and prolific with words that weave the threads and themes of weather, wilderness, wily human behavior, bewildered communication and willful characters to create an unforgettable fabric that constantly enraptures me. Unlike other reviewers who tired of the unclear distinction between voices, I found the unmarked shifting of speakers fascinating as if I were within that family myself, both part of it and also above it watching the whole thing like an organism comprised of swarming cells.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The opening narration setting the scene of the river and the house is unforgettable.


    If you could take any character from Sometimes a Great Notion out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Viv, because I wonder how a woman could just settle into this and flow with it like she did.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Atlanta, GA, United States 11-12-12
    Patricia Atlanta, GA, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Great Epic Piece"
    Any additional comments?

    So glad I discovered this "sleeper" of an epic story...had never read it but found the character and area descriptions very thorough...especially liked the ending...quite different for a novel from the 60's. This author is a masterful story teller and should be much better known in his field than he is...it is indeed a classic. Started to watch the movie based on this but it was bland compared to the book and I didn't finish it...the book says it all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nepenthe 09-03-12
    Nepenthe 09-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Where is it going? When will it end?"
    What did you like best about Sometimes a Great Notion? What did you like least?

    I was attracted to this title by the name Ken Kesey, recalling his prior work, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It proved to be a disappointment.

    I found it very difficult to keep track of which character was narrating at any given time. The narrative went on and on and on. I was wishing for the end by the second of four parts. The ending itself was quite unsatisfying, definitely not worth the significant investment in time.


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 05-15-15
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 05-15-15 Member Since 2012
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    "A great novel superbly narrated"

    The novel is a brilliantly written story of life, conflict, and relationships among loggers in the North West. Occasionally Kesey's lyricism goes overboard. But his evocation of the landscape and the elements is wonderful, as is his dialogue. The narrative style, which involves frequent switches between first person narrations without any explicit indication of who is now talking is confusing at first, but eventually I got used to it. A few times, though, I had to rewind a minute or two in order to start a section over again. The male characters are vivid and interesting; the female characters are a bit insipid by comparison. I found the last chapter a bit contrived and unconvincing. In some ways it reminded me of of Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country (which was written later): gritty, working class, life close to the elements, multiple perspectives, lyrical prose, and it even has the device of opening with the strange scene that turns out to be the end of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Schneider Michigan, USA 02-21-15
    Steve Schneider Michigan, USA 02-21-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Great novel read by superb reader"

    What a winning combination. Pure joy to listen to. My new favorite Audible book, and my new favorite reader. A breathtaking and wild ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allan Cumming Auckland, New Zealand 01-17-15
    Allan Cumming Auckland, New Zealand 01-17-15 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Still a classic"

    This used to be one of my favorites many years ago, and I purchased the audiobook on a whim. I wasn't sure what to expect. Firstly, I was unsure that the book would have survived the test of time. Second, the multiple first person narrative might be impossible to render off he printed page.

    I was shocked on both counts. The story, almost an historical novel fifty odd years on, was as gripping as it was then. The narrator had just enough subtly in intonation that I rarely lost track for more than a moment, in fact less so than I remember from reading the book.

    I cannot recommend this enough. It is truly a classic, and the pace of an audio presentation is perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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