One Great Timeless Novel

Sometimes A Great Notion (1963) Ken Kesey. I’ve read it 6 times. The same paperback. One of the best ever character studies ever written. As true today as when it was written.

The cover is gone ... I've had this copy for 50 some years.
Title page of my copy
The movie is fantastic, too. I've watched it maybe a dozen times.
back cover


Here’s a review I wrote for my Goodreads bookshelf:

My opening:

This is the sixth time I’ve read this novel. The first was in 1971 when I was twenty-one. Looking back now, I see how much it influenced me—in my writing and life. “Looking back a guy can always pick him out some top-notch reasons to explain what happened. … he can look back and say there was the why of it …” (p.450)

An Update

Yes, it is on this shelf in my apartment. Furthermore, I stocked it in my bookstore. My brother, Jack, bought it and now he’s a copy on his bookshelf. (Have you read it, bro?)

The influence the author, Ken Kesey, had on me was substantial. Both with his writing and his life.

I can’t recommend the book and the movie enough. If you want to understand the making of America, and the people who made it – this is a good place to start.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read the book or seen the movie.


5 thoughts on “One Great Timeless Novel

  1. I think one reason this novel is so timeless is that people, individual personalities, have not changed. Despite technological changes, humans have remained the same. Our emotional makeup is unchanged. We are the same as we were back when Kesey wrote this book – and Kesey details particular personalities with incredible insight; and damn good writing!
    Maybe it was all the LSD he took?

  2. Of course I read the book. Thought I told you I compiled a book list from Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, depicting Kesey & the Merry Pranksters sojourn across country: Siddartha (sp?) & another Hesse book, River Runs Through It, Cuckoo’s Nest, Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, the Aldous Huxley pair, 1984 & Brave New World, Ayn Rand, maybe… Formed a foundation for the Left Turn I took, going to UCLA for an educational delay from joining the Air Force. Wound up writing for the LA Free Press, taking pictures at concerts up and down the coast. Those books and experiences provided ingredients that would influence what I now refer to as my Crazy Quilt Life (title of my auto bio if I ever get around to doing more than writing songs for it). Movies rarely can hang with the books (Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are exceptions), but Henry Fonda and Paul Newman are large in the RRTI flick.

  3. Oh, yes, and Kerouac… and the guy I couldn’t remember the other day: Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye). Farina’s Down so long it looks like up to me. Heller’s Catch 22. I suppose there are books today that are influencing people… but maybe not. It’s the Instagram, Tik-tok, Tweet age. Awful. Who has time to read when the endless pit that is social media (or YouTube or Netflix) sucks your time away.

    1. Indeed. The internet and social media has certainly impacted what society is. And maybe in a net negative way. There are a lot of ‘Readers’ out there, and a lot more books than ever before. Millions more; but yeah – what are the books saying?
      The peopled-world has changed – but people haven’t. Which is a strange paradox.
      Here’s Henry telling it like it was and is. (I think this scene was in the movie only. I couldn’t find it in the book.]

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