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
I've listened to other novels that change from third person to first person, but this is the only one I've listened to that has more than one giving his first person account along with a third person account. The narrator is pretty good, but I do wish he had used different voices for the first person accounts. Sometimes it took a bit to realize which character was talking.
Never Give an Inch
All of it except for the 70s reminders
You need this book.
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.
Hank Jr., the character walks the line from a tough self sufficient woodsman to a thoughtful guy who wants to live in a better world but has his feet planted in this one, and he makes such subtle changes through the story.
Stechschulte did such a great job on the voices - characters, and that was very important in this novel as the first person speaker changes all the time. I don't think anyone could ever do it any better, and all I can say is thanks for giving it so much artistic caring.
No, it's too long, and deserves to be savored.
This is as fine a novel and performance as I've ever heard, and I think this book belongs on every top 100 list of fiction. In addition it is a great ending, perfect, unresolved but resolved, balanced, and sets the rest of the story, that has been moving, into a fixed place, with the very last zen hammer stroke. It made me think about how few books really end well, and though the story ends the characters don't. And the attentive reader is left to make a trip down the river with them.
Hank Stamper is a classic tragic protagonist much like Achilles. He can't get out of the way of his own personality; a personality fraught with courage and recklessness, love and selfishness, loyalty and despair. In truth it is hard to say you have known someone just like him, but it is easy to say you have known someone he reminds you of.
I can't separate the performance from the substance; at least not in this regard. Hank is the dynamic engine of the story despite his younger brother's, Leland's, appeal in an anti-hero way. Hank or Leland could be Oscar winners if acted in accordance with the characters as developed by Kesey.
The great American Novel brought to life.
This book is about as far from my comfort zone in reading as I have strayed. I don't even know what brought me to it unless perhaps it was that I wanted to see an example of the "beat generation" of American authors. To say that it was a worthwhile experience is an understatement. Often we are exposed to a work of art that impresses us at the time which, like the introduction to a person at a party,is immediately thereafter forgotten. This book stays with you.
This is hands down my favorite novel of all time. I've read it four times and now I've listened to it 3 times as well. While I generally prefer reading books rather than listening to them, this is about the best audio version of a book I've encountered. The narrator Tom Stechshulte has the perfect gravel-voiced inflections to match the Oregon setting. His voices for characters are well done and not cartoonish. In fact, the way he switches voices throughout the novel can make it easier to follow the narration, as Kesey chooses to switch 1st person perspectives a paragraph or a sentence at a time. I've given this audiobook to people who couldn't get into reading the book, but who devoured and loved the story in this medium. Buy the book. Buy the audiobook. Experience one of the greatest pieces of art or literature ever to be created.
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.
What a winning combination. Pure joy to listen to. My new favorite Audible book, and my new favorite reader. A breathtaking and wild ride.
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