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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great American Novel
In the search for the 20thC "Great American Novel", what a pity that Kesey's masterpiece (yes, even better than "Cuckoo") should have fallen foul in its time of what was deemed political incorrectness.
"Gravity's Rainbow" is perhaps the only other late 20thC work of such epic proportions (but it's not about America).
I don't think any other novel brings face to...
Published on 1 Feb 2004

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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars awesome_books_001 aka WRAP LTD
Purchased from awesome_books_001 aka WRAP LTD. Book was heavily yellowed with age, cover was not the same as that shown in the listing, the book was marked as £1.50 inside and had obviously been sourced from recycling or a jumble sale! There was no receipt with the item and I paid 2.5 time more than the marked price plus shipping. Needless to say I wouldn't recommend...
Published on 9 Feb 2012 by Tinea cruris


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great American Novel, 1 Feb 2004
By A Customer
In the search for the 20thC "Great American Novel", what a pity that Kesey's masterpiece (yes, even better than "Cuckoo") should have fallen foul in its time of what was deemed political incorrectness.
"Gravity's Rainbow" is perhaps the only other late 20thC work of such epic proportions (but it's not about America).
I don't think any other novel brings face to face so many vital opposites of the American way of life. The Cain/Abel, East coast/West Coast and generational confrontation between the two half-brothers: one with his six-pack and Fats Domino records, the other with his joint and Coltrane, is sublime.
Across from the fierce small town solidarity during a hard loggers' strike, Kesey places the nuclear and extended independent family spirit; both are wholly American. The district union leader and the local bar owner (increased activity for both) provide a wider, detached view; while the East-coast half-brother (coopted after fleeing a failing student career and a hilariously failed suicide suicide attempt) narrates a wonderful tale.
There is not a dud character in the whole novel; and it abounds with characters...
I envy those who have not read it, so much pleasure to come; although I may just dig my copy out and go for a fifth or sixth read
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes a Great Notion, 15 Jan 2008
By 
C.S (Manchester) - See all my reviews
Undoubtedly better in both form and content than Cuckoo's Nest, Sometimes a Great Notion is as a challenging, but enjoyable read. It is a long novel, with extremely lenghty chapters which demand the readers constant attention. Kesey presents characters even more memorable and convincing than those of Cuckoo's Nest. The conflict between the two Stamper brothers is utterly compelling, as is the presentation of other minor roles. The novel is more realistic than Cuckoo's Nest, being set in an Oregon logging town, but far more experimental, with Kesey employing multiple narrative viewpoints. As Kesey's finest novel, it works on an epic scale, dealing with the multi-generational Stamper family drama, and in a wider sense, American history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Individual versus society, 29 Mar 2010
By 
noc "noc" (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This is a long and dense book but a rewarding read. Kesey brings the reader right into the deepest recesses of the characters' minds. The novel is thick with profound consideration of human relationships and social behaviour and how this balances with the strong instinct for individual survival. As well as the meticulously detailed characterisation, the landscape is described in such a way that you feel it , see it and smell it along with the Wakonda locals. This isn't an easy read, though it is surprising how easy it is given its unusual narrative style, flicking seamlessly between points of view and from first-person to third person, to subconscious, even into the minds of animals. However, it is a rich, beautiful, moving and at times shocking novel of wide scope and substance. I loved it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this for your own sake!, 10 Sep 2005
This is the best book I have ever read. A bold statement, I agree, but nothing else comes close apart from watching your own family through the eyes of a fly on the wall. The relationship between the brothers is so fine tuned and subtly written it's amazing, not to mention the whole family. There's just so much good stuff in this book. The only reason that it has been overlooked so much is that it's rather long with some hefty chapters that need a couple of hours each. That doesn't detract from the book at all, it adds to it, making the reader commit to and become immersed in the story. Every character is real and I still think about bits when on the bus or train as if it were a memory from my own life it's that vivid in my mind. Do I sound mad yet? Probably. Should you read this book? Definitely.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, a brilliant novel, a penguin Classic, but no Kindle version, 8 Dec 2011
By 
M. Harradine - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've loved this book for years, probably the most read book in my collection and I'm pleased to see by the previous reviews that I'm not alone. It's a real Kesey tour de force and stands head and shoulders above Cuckoo's Nest. And apparently it's now been elevated to Penguin Classic status, wonderful.
So I got quite excited when I thought I could get it on my new Kindle and take it everywhere with me. Wrong...! Penguin UK know nothing of the US Kindle version, which I'm not allowed to buy since I live in the UK. Strange, since it's only downloadable digits. I don't even think they are aware it has their "classic" status either. When asked they knew nothing about it...?!

Now this is a great American Classic so why on earth is it being ignored by Penguin UK? It's all very confusing and it also reveals what could be the serious future shortcomings of owning a Kindle, territorial exclusivity, something I hadn't considered until now. But it becomes obvious when you think about it, it's a vendor's dream. It does seem to go against the Amazon claim of wanting to have every book available for the Kindle though, I guess that's just a marketing ploy after all. Duh! and there I was thinking I was clever enough to spot a ploy. So for me this has revealed a major drawback and I'm not so happy with my Kindle now.
Maybe one day Penguin will publish it in the UK in some form or other, you never know.

Anyway, apart from my pointless carping about availablity on a commercial e-reader, I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in great writing and storytelling and what actually makes the real America tick. Timeless...
Get a copy in any shape or form, you won't be dissapointed.

Update: Almost a year later and still no sign of it for the Kindle...I rest my case...

Update: Nearly 4 years later, still no UK Kindle edition....
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great notion, 11 Aug 2006
Having read Cuckoo's nest, which I enjoyed a great deal, I brought 'Sometimes a Great Notion'. When it arrived I unwrapped it to discover a great block of a book and promptly posited the book on a shelf, it stayed there a good while before I finally decided to read it. The first 60 pgs seem to fly all over the place, with shifting point of views and background stories it was hard to get into. The book then settles down and Kesey starts to develop a rich cast of characters and the Oregon countryside. Although it is long in places it didn't feel long as I became so engaged in the characters, their lives and the world that surrounded them. Kesey has a very eloquent writing style that makes the book flow easily but also adds genuine weight to the characters . I thoroughly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning - best book I've ever read, 10 Dec 2008
Just amazing. Long but totally absorbing, packed full of beautifully written characters. Swings this way and that but you always feel like you're being led by a masterful writer.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recomended, 12 Nov 2003
this is one of the best books ive ever read. easily as good as coocoos nest if not better. The book is massive; loads of characters and lovely discriptions of oregan. Kesey was magic as a person and a writer. It has one of the coolest slow burning narritives that plays kinda like twin peaks ish. It realy penitrates deep though gets right in your skull and theres so much truth in the substance of the story and yet still a grand dramatic feel to it. Mind blowing. Also containing my faviorate ever character, JoeBen .If you read this you will be blessed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Great American Novel, 14 Nov 2014
By 
T. Wasser (Pittsburgh, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This novel draws, both implicitly and explicitly, on the literary traditions of the Bible, Shakespeare, Milton, Moby Dick, Matthew Arnold, etc. There are the biblical themes of the struggles between brothers, the younger brother eclipsing the elder, the dangers of knowledge. There are particularly strong references to Milton's "Paradise Lost." Note that whenever Viv appears in the book, there is always a reference to her hair, and coiling; compare Milton's descriptions of Eve in "Paradise Lost, also usually in terms of her hair (for example, "Her unadorned golden tresses wore / Disheveled, but in wanton ringlets waved / As the vine curls her tendrils" PL, Book IV, ll. 303-05). The names are also quite similar in sound and meaning (Viv, the Latin etymological root for "life;" and Eve, related etymologically in Hebrew to "a living being"). But this is not a mere re-telling of any prior book. It clearly describes a particular place at a particular time (the Pacific Northwest in the late 1950s). It shows the tensions of that time between union and non-union workers; between blue collar and white collar workers; between the "native" born inhabitants and the newly arrived; between physical and intellectual pursuits. It explores the morality of revenge, the idea of family, and the ever presence of death. The technique used by the author in cutting from the perspective of one character to that of another--without clear punctuation signaling the shift, is breathtaking and effective. It gives the reader a simultaneous view of the same situation from different view points--resulting in a layered and rich understanding of the complexity created by the dynamic nature of all situations.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern American Masterpeice, 14 Jan 2007
By 
Aaron Noy (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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Sometimes a Great Notion is an absolute masterpeice of a novel. It's a great pity that it has been overshadowed by 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' in popularity because it is a far superior novel.

It is certainly a long and at some points difficult read. But i implore anyone who attempts it to read on past the quite confusing beginning, it is definitely worth the effort.

It isnt just a very good beat or hippy novel, it really it is up there with the contendors for the great American novel. It's certainly a novel i will be revisiting many times throughout my life.

When i first read it it was very difficult to come by a copy and it took a few months before i managed to get hold of a second hand copy. It's great to see Penguin have released a new issue. It's a novel i frequently recommend and it's nice to know it's available.
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