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Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Favorite Reads: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past. Next week is Banned Books week and so all September I have been featuring banned books that I loved in this meme. This week, it's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.

Summary (from the publisher):
Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the seminal novel of the 1960s that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned.

Why I chose this book:
I read this book after seeing the play in New York on Broadway. McMurphy was played by Gary Sinise, and Chief was played by the son of the actor who played him in the 1975 movie with Jack Nicholson. The play was closer to the book, but I was still surprised that the book was narrated by Chief. I had assumed McMurphy would be the narrator. This isn't my usual kind of book and despite it being a classic I never would have read it if it weren't for the play, but I'm really glad I did. It's masterfully written, with great control and it's such an original story. Yes, bad, awful things happen but that's never a reason to ban a book - those are jumping off points for discussion. It's hard to imagine what reading the book in the 1960s would have been like. I'm sure it was much more groundbreaking and shocking then. To read it 30+ years later, long past when electroshock treatment has been discredited and when many reforms in the metal health arena have taken place, it just can't be the same experience. A brilliant critique of society.

3 comments:

Kate said...

Great choice!

I agree that reading it in the 1960's must have been a completely different experience.

Alyce said...

I watched the movie when I was young (in my opinion far too young - I have no idea why I was watching it) and it really freaked me out. I still haven't found the desire to read the book because of that. From what I've read in several reviews, most people are really surprised by who the narrator is. It's been so long since I watched the movie that I really only remember how I was horrified by the ending.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, I loved this book...and not surprisingly, many books I love and loved are on that horrendous banned book list.

Thanks for sharing....

Here's mine:

Click on my name for the link....