After writing two books in the early 1960s, both now established as American classics, Ken Kesey abandoned the novel in its established form. Over the past twenty-five years he has written many shorter pieces, but only now, with Sailor Song, brings his considerable powers once again to bear on a full-scale undertaking, giving us a unique and powerful novel about America. Set in the near future, the story takes us to the Alaskan village of Kuinak, a rundown fishing community of Deaps (Descendants of Early Aboriginal Peoples) and Lower Forty-eight refugees perched on the Western Edge of history. It's a scene rich with characters, like Alice the Angry Aleut, Ike Sallas (known as "the Bakatcha Bandit" during the environmental wars of the nineties), the town's indispensable "scoot" runner Billy the Squid, and the Loyal Order of Underdogs, who meet monthly for the Full Moon Howl. Into their peculiar midst sails a mighty ship of last hopes, loaded to the gunwales with a big-bucks Hollywood film company. This famous studio/yacht has come north to film a classic children's book, The Sea Lion. Unscripted transformations abound as the project stirs a new mix into the community, including a tribe brought down from the remote north. Sailor Song is an epic novel that revolves around the question: Does love make any sense at the end of the world? It's about things that endure and come around again - back at you, and back to you.
The first two books really pushed me. They were weighty, and deserved a few good readings. I liked Sailor Song, but I cannot say it moved me to any kind of new understanding, either about Alaska, or Life in General.
Kesey later admitted the acid pretty much ruined his career as a writer, which is a great loss. This is a decent read, especially if you have an interest in Alaska, but unless you are a collector, you can put it on bookcrossing soon after.
Oh, and by the way...polar bear liver is highly poisonous....don't EVER eat it.