"A RIPSNORTER OF A YARN": FIRST EDITION OF LAST GO ROUND, SIGNED BY KEN BABBS AND KEN KESEY
KESEY, Ken with BABBS, Ken. Last Go Round. WITH: Prospectus for Kesey's screenplay for Last Go Round. New York: Viking, 1994. Octavo, original half red cloth, pictorial endpapers, original dust jacket. Housed together with eight-page gate-fold prospectus (7 by 12 inches) in custom cloth clamshell box. $2200.
First edition of Kesey's last novel, boldly signed in colored ink by both him and Ken Babbs. Together with an undated prospectus for Kesey's unpublished and unproduced screenplay for this story, begun a decade prior to the novel's publication.
"Much of Last Go Round"—"a history in the form of a novel written with the aid of research by Kesey's friend Ken Babbs—is "far-fetched. But then of course Kesey is writing in the tradition of the tall tale, where anything goes in the cause of fleshing out the myths of the American past. And what could be more exaggeratedly American in this time of sensitivity to multiculturalism than a yarn in which the stars of a legendary rodeo turn out to be a southern gentleman, a black, an Indian and a Jewish woman, and in which the villains try to rig the outcome of the show in favor of the white man? At least you think that Kesey's tale is a tall one until you come to the first section of photographs in the book. Now it may be true that a few of the outlandish characters in the story are not pictured here and must therefore be presumed to have been invented… But there are photos of George Fletcher and Jackson Sundown, respectively the black man and Indian of Kesey's yarn. There is Frank Gotch, the wrestler, looking almost as gigantic as his prose description. There is Parson Montanic dressed up in ornate Indian regalia and possibly blessing his flock. So it gradually becomes clear that as much as Kesey may be exaggerating events, he is simultaneously unearthing a reality that is not usually associated with the frontier… As well as being a ripsnorter of a yarn, the history [Kesey] retells so energetically has a surprising degree of wistful complexity" (New York Times).
Kesey was approached in 1983 by fellow ex-Merry Prankster Mike Hagen and MiSchelle McMindes, a private investigator, to write a screenplay for a prospective film about the 1911 Pendleton, OR "Round Up" on which this story is based. Despite never having written a film before, Kesey agreed, and Hagen and McMindes formed a production company, Sundown & Fletcher, and began raising money for the project. Tragically, Kesey's son died in a car accident the following year, and he ceased work on the project while in the draft stage. Hagen and McMindes continued to shop the film to producers over the next decade, bringing screenwriter Katherine Wilson on board, causing further complications with Kesey over rights. Kesey eventually published the story as a novel—his last—without their input, and his fictionalized version of events led to a dispute with John Spain's descendants over the cowboy's portrayal, further complicating any potential film. To date, the project has not moved forward. With 16 pages of black-and-white photographs.
Fine condition. A desirable double-signed copy, and with the film production company's prospectus.