Chris's Reviews > Sometimes a Great Notion

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
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's review
Jul 21, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: Fans of Tom Wolfe
Read in July, 2008

Despite the reputation that Ken Kesey might otherwise have as the controversial frontman of the Merry Pranksters, a group significant to the original acid and counter culture; Kesey maintains his reputation as a true American author and as someone who contributes greatly to American literature.
This is exemplified through this novel; Kesey shines with creativity and is able tell the story of the every day man who struggles with his successes and failures in terms of his own moral and personal standards, but also thorough the standards of people he has seemingly always let down, his family. He is able to tell the story of a blue collar family in a rural mountain town community of lumberjacks set in Oregon. Here Kesey is not only able to examine the many facets of the human condition, but also allows the reader to truly identify with the land and the nation we all call home.
The author makes these environments familiar and real despite the fact that the reader may have never been there. The elements of nature are real forces here, and rather than adhering to rhetoric where man subdues and conquers nature, nature is seen as a true force. Something to be reckoned with not simply implemented to set mood or mellow drama. It is seen as a necessary force for survival, not only a source of life, but also a force that can take life.
Kesey jumps from the first person point of view of several different and interlocking characters, never hesitating to jump to a third person impartial narrative and back to a first person even within the same paragraph. Contrary to what I initially thought, this does not take any from the story, but merely leaves the reader with a thoughtful organized confusion as Kesey takes the controls of the plane you are in. He may plummet downward and spiral dangerously close to the earth, but he always somehow seems to come in for a smooth landing. Enjoy.

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