The author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest depicts the collaboration of a big-bucks Hollywood film company with a remote Alaskan Indian tribe in a rundown, twenty-first-century fishing community. 100,000 first printing. $100,000 ad/promo.
SAILOR SONG is superb, remarkable and unmatched in contemporary literature. Ken's grasp of the human condition is extraordinary: man/woman, inter-family, small town, international, global, you name it and Ken's got it in SAILOR SONG. It's an easier read than NOTION, but not as clearcut as NEST.
So many posts here question the ending; not me. I trust Ken ended this the way he saw fit, like the master he was. Life doesn't end cleanly, even though it begins with promise and evolves with careful plot. I don't think any other writer has addressed the scenario of the poles shifting, so while this isn't quite an "end of the world" tale, surely it's clear why Ken dubbed this his science fiction novel.
The characters are unforgettable, and yes the novel reads like a screenplay because it is so extraordinarily vividly written. There are plot twists and curlicues galore -- that's the skill and scope of Kesey coming across. SAILOR SONG, like his other novels, is brimming with quotable phrases and passages that ache for outboarding and inclusion in BARTLETT'S BOOK OF QUOTATIONS. He's that good.
The scenario overall is unforgettable, and the pace is so beguiling that despite the novel's length; when it was over my ONLY regret was that there wasn't more superb literature to keep me riveted. If you are anxious to be engaged, challenged and rewarded by a book time and again, savor SAILOR SONG to the last drop. There ain't no dregs here, just sweet wonderful language coming from a mind without equal. Ken's passing last November was a loss without measure, but we readers are blessed with these words. Enjoy!
Why? The ending.
Yes, one can argue that it is the ride that makes the book, but a failed ending, no matter what, can ruin even the most intruiging story.
It's not that I consider the ending of A Sailor Song to be horrible- it's the fact that there seems to be no ending in the first place. Like Seinfeld, I need closure!
Even for the ultimate failing, this book still deserves a two-star rating, if only for the story of the Backatcha Bandit. The characters are wonderful, and certainly unique to Kesey. From the reluctant hero to the mutt/Jamaican ladies' man, the characters are certianly colorful enough to keep one's attention.
If it's Kesey characters you want, I recommend this book- but don't expect an ending of the caliber of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest- or an ending at all, for that matter.