Ken Kesey, The Big Turnip From Pleasant Hill

by | Nov 8, 2011

Eugene Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch paid a visit to Ken Kesey’s mom, Geneva Jolley, who turned 95 two weeks ago.

In the interview, Mrs. Jolley reflects on her son’s first two novels…

“When the books came out, they were not red-letter days for me,” Geneva says. “They should have been. But I didn’t appreciate all that he had put into those books. I didn’t appreciate how famous they were going to become.”

She wonders if it was a mother’s protective instincts. “Maybe I didn’t want him to be a big turnip in a little turnip patch,” she says. “He always liked a crowd.”

Mrs. Jolley also says, “I never gave him credit for all he accomplished.”

I hope Kesey understood and I imagine he did. Lavishing praise on a writer, even a famous one in the family, isn’t normal. Asking said writer when he’s going to get a real job, now that’s normal.

Previously on Burnin’: We Need Magic In Our Lives, And The Magicians Who Provide It