Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Great Oregon Novel

What's The Great Oregon Novel?

To find out I contacted Literary Arts in Portland, an organization that runs a number of literary programs in Oregon.

Elizabeth Burnett, the Executive Director of Literary Arts, polled the staff.

The result? "On quick poll, the winner, hands-down, is Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion."

Here's the Wikipedia entry for the novel:
When the publication of his second novel Sometimes a Great Notion in 1964 required his presence in New York, Kesey, Neal Cassady, and others in a group of friends they called the "Merry Pranksters" took a cross-country trip in a school bus nicknamed Furthur. This trip, described in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (and later in Kesey's own screenplay "The Furthur Inquiry") was the group's attempt at making art out of everyday life. In New York, Cassady introduced Kesey to Kerouac and to Allen Ginsberg, who in turn introduced them to Timothy Leary. Sometimes a Great Notion was made into a 1971 film starring Paul Newman and was nominated for two Academy Awards. (In 1972, Sometimes a Great Notion was the first film shown in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on a new television network called HBO.)
Kesey's first novel was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, perhaps more famous as the movie starring Jack Nicholson and winner of 8 Academy Awards.

For contemporary writers, Literary Arts sponsors The Oregon Book Awards, which are presented annually for the finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in genres of poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, drama and young readers literature. You can find a list of winners here.

And my favorite Oregon novel? Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk, about which I'd like to tell you more, but: "The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club."

--Marshal Zeringue

For The Great Texas Novel, click here.
For The Great Louisiana Novel, click here.