This is a story told by a half-Native American. Because of his origin he is called ‘Chief’ Bromden. Bromden has been living in a mental hospital for a very long time. He isn’t the oldest patient there, but from all the patients he has been there the longest. The hospital is being ruled by the Big Nurse, called Miss Ratched, her doctors and her three black boys. Those last ones are her extra hands, they know what she wants. Bromden pretends to be deaf, he has become a very good observator and knows the people in the hospital.
One day a new is brought in, Mr McMurphy, but he is different. He pretended to be insane to get out of prison. The book tells the role that McMurphy has in the recover and the treating of the patients. Some of you may have seen the same called and very succesfull movie (1975), those will know that it isn’t a pleasant path they are following. The story catches the reader and it’s hanging in the air that something is going to happen, it won’t all go the right way.
Ken Kesey (1935-2001) took part of a study, named Project MKULTRA, financed by the CIA. It was a covered, illegal human experimentation program. Kesey was using psychoactive drugs for this program. During this he worked as a night aide in a Veterans’ Hospital, where he talked to the patients. This led to his first novel, which was a masterpiece. This masterpiece was “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, ofcourse. During the night shifts in the Hospital Kesey was often talking to the patients, sometimes under the influence of the hallucinogenic drugs. Kesey did not believe that those people were insane, he believed they were pushed out by society, because they did not fit in the way people had to act and behave. Like McMurphy managed to be declared insane, like he managed to not fit in. At first Kesey was involved in creating the film, but he quited after two weeks of production because of the dispute over the money he paid for the film rights.
Kesey wrote more books after this one, but they were all not quite as good as his first one, although there are some who argue about this. It has been included to the list “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005” made by Time Magazine. Both the book and the movie are very recomended. It gives a look in a mental hospital of that time and it gives a view of the way a mental patient thinks. But maybe it is better to say a psychoactive drug user, because he is the one that came up with the idea that those were not insane at all and that it had to be told to the world outside, which led to this masterpiece. Read the book and find out if you could agree with Ken Kesey and most of all, enjoy reading this wonderfull book, a book to remember.