Ken Kesey’s One flew over cuckoo’s nest – Review

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo’s nest

Before writing this review, I’m taking in account that some of my blog-readers are lazy, just like me. And chose to read this book, because of the filming of it. Let me tell you, that just watching the film won’t come to your advantage, since the film is not (very) alike the book.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a book by Ken Kesey, about an Indian Chief in a mental hospital. Even though Chief Bromden is the narrator, he is not the most important character in the book. This is Randle McMurphy. He is a robust, unmannered, big guy. He is a gambler annex con man and willingly takes the role as spokesman for the other patients. At first McMurphy gets under your skin, he constantly tries out his fellow-patients as well as the ward director. But later he gets an interesting roll in the development of the other patients. And you’ll start to appreciate him. He teaches you an important lesson.

Because of his pretence of being deaf, Chief Bromden hears things which are concealed for the rest of the patients, which makes him an effective narrator. Him being the narrator also brings some problems, since he’s paranoid  and delusional. This makes it sometimes hard for the reader to distinguish what is phantasy and what is not. This becomes clear in the fog that the chief sees. It is when he is at his worst that the fog rolls in. It’s as if the fog protects him although he feels lost in it.

Whilst studying at Stanford, Ken Kesey was a student of Wallace Stenger, a famous American novelist and historian, and Ken began writing his manuscript for OFOTCN. During this time Ken volunteered to participate in Project MKULTRA, a program which tested the effects of psycho-effective drugs. In these years of experimentation and his experience as working in a veterens hospital gave him inspiration to transform his manuscript into a very good novel.

It’s fairly easy to read and you’ll be trough it in no-time. This is because of the ‘fast writing’: with the use of ”could of done’ in stead of ‘have done’, which makes it easier to read. At first too many names come up, but Kesey’s ability to sketch the surroundings and persons the way he does, makes it easy to eventually put the name to the character. The book also makes you laugh. When Cheswick copycats and repeats the things McMurphy says. A book about mentally ill people which doesn’t make you laugh, wouldn’t be a very good one…

The ongoing battle between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched is in my eyes a battle without victors. At first Nurse Ratched seems unbeatable, but McMurphy shows, that the least thing you can do is try, even if it’s the last thing you do.

To conclude my review, I want to say that this is a ‘must read’. It will get to you and gives you something to think about. Because who decides who’s sane and who’s not?


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