Something that’s often lost in the world of artistic criticism is the provocative power of hyperbole.
There’s nothing more cowardly than saying, “in what may perhaps be the best book of the 1980s…”
It’s like, c’mon, just come out and say it. Man up! Take a stand! You can always change your mind. You’re free; existentialism taught us that.
So, that being said, “Sometimes a Great Notion” is *the* great American novel. The greatest American novel. Ever. At least of the ones I’ve read. (Order it here, from our store!)
It has everything a novel should have: a measured, compelling pace, staggering language, and subtle emotional complexity.
It’s uniquely American in its exploration of the kinds of themes your entry-level Boomer Literature professor talked about: city versus country, young versus old, East versus West, and good ol’ fashioned tormented Faulknerian family dynamics.
Most importantly, it deals with the most important theme of them all: freedom, and the role of the individual in society, his responsibilities to himself and others (like family), and the tensions that arise when such responsibilities collide.