November, 2011: Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

(Book #19) The gathering for this book was scheduled to take place at Geri’s but due to low reader turnout, it was cancelled and the four or us who read the book met at Ina’s (a restaurant, our third this year) for breakfast/lunch.

Though some of us thought the low reader turnout was an indication that the book should have been edited, we decided the major obstacle in reading this 640 page tome was the difficulty of the regularly changing first person narrator. The author moves between character perspectives, without signaling that a shift has happened!  We discussed the tension we felt: while supportive of unions, we wanted Hank to succeed. We talked about Hank and Leland — how Leland could see Hank as deserving of blame, rather than placing blame on his mother. We wondered what would happen to Viv after she leaves. Ro was interested in the ending, believing as in a Greek tragedy that Hank would die trying to bring the lumber in by himself. I felt his “Greek tragedy day” had already happened when his father lost and arm, Joe Ben died, there was a bar fight and he caught Leland and Viv together. That seemed like plenty for any Greek!