Sometimes a Great Notion

Sometimes a Great NotionI just finished reading this book. It took me 200 pages to realize Kesey wasn’t just fucking with me. Well, 217 pages, actually. There was just something about the following passage that told me all the POV jumping and time shifting wasn’t just a way of showing off or desperate attempts to make a boring story interesting.

Oregon October, when the fields of timothy and rye-grass stubble are being burned, the sky itself catches fire. Flocks of wrens rush up from the red alder thickets like spars kicked up from a campfire, the salmon jumps again, and the river runs often and slow . . .

Down river, from Andy’s landing, a burned-off cedar snag held the sun spitted like an apple, hissing and dripping juices against a grill of Indian Summer clouds. All the hillside, all the drying Himalaya vine that lined the big river, and the sugar-maple trees farther up, burned a dark brick and over-lit red. The river split for the jump of a red-gilled silver salmon, then circled to mark the spot where it fell. Spoonbills shoveled at the crimson mud in the shallows, and the dowitchers jumped from cattail to cattail, frantically crying “Kleek! Kleek!” as though the thin reeds were as hot as the pokers they resembled. Canvasback and brant flew south in small, fiery, faraway flocks. And in the shabby ruin of broken cornfields rooster ringneck clashed together in battle so bright, so gleaming polished-copper bright, that the fields seemed to ring with their fighting.

I don’t know why, but that paragraph told me it would be worth my time to read the next 400+ pages. And it was.

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