cover image Sailor Song

Sailor Song

Ken Kesey. Viking Books, $13.95 (528pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83521-8

Kesey ( One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ; Sometimes a Great Notion ) sets his latest grand, cosmic adventure early in the 21st century, complete with celefones, cardkeys, Mylar pumpsuits and scoot, the artificial stimulant of choice. Ike Sallas, ``mental activist'' and Backatcha Bandit of the ' 90s, lives in a trailer in the ``neo retro'' Alaskan fishing village of Kuniak with his fishing partner, Rastafarian Emil Greer. Kuniak is invaded by legendary film director Gerhardt Steubins, minions Clark Bstet no period Clark and Nicholas Levertov, and troops with plans to film the Eskimo legend The Sea Lion (a Kesey children's book). This ``unstained cartoon caricature of mythic native life'' contrasts with the ``dirt and despair and perversion'' of `` real native life,'' according to Alice Carmody, matriarch of Kuinak DEAPs (Descendants of Early Aboriginal Peoples). His baroque humor in top form, Kesey skewers religious cults, organized lodges and land developers as the madcap adventures culminate in the phantasmogorical conclusion on the open seas when Ike is caught in a maelstrom. This is a gargantuan novel of epic dimensions that feeds on the need for love and heroes at a time when ``the hero business ain't so hot.'' 100,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Aug.)