You know what’s a great notion? Reading this book.
Sometimes A Great Notion is a masterpiece (arguments in favor of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are not being entertained at this time) by Ken Kesey, who is generally thought of in association with Oregon and Northern California, but is actually from Colorado. Well, he was born in La Junta. We’re counting it.
A film based on the book was made in 1971 and starred Paul Newman and Henry Fonda.
The book follows the Stampers, a family of loggers in Oregon contending with all manner of problems: escalating tensions regarding a striking union they’re competing with, erosion and their own dysfunctionality.
Henry Stamper is the conservative, bullheaded patriarch with antiquated ideas about gender norms and I would say he’s quite the stereotype, if I didn’t know so many people like him. Hank Stamper, Henry’s son, is quiet, competent and very helpful in a fight. Basically, he’s the opposite of his half-brother Leland, the sensitive intellectual who has just returned from college on the east coast and who turns out to actually not be very sensitive or intellectual, in my opinion. Then, there’s Hank’s wife, Viv. She is in the process of falling out of love with her husband, and to say anything further would give away key plot points.
The book has plenty in the way of action. There are fights, logging accidents, confrontations, near confrontations, and just a lot of really good commentary on rural America’s societal hierarchies. Having grown up in rural western Colorado, pretty much every character in the book makes me think of someone I know in real life. Buy me a drink sometime and I might tell you which ones are which.
Without giving too much away, the book ends with Viv realizing that men are dumb. It’s one of my favorite endings in all of literature — and that’s not hyperbole.
Again, better than One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This is not up for debate.
Have you read Sometimes A Great Notion before? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments below.