One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of those books that you hear about for years but probably don’t ever actually read. At least it was for me. Until I saw it on a buy-2-for-1-credit sale at Audible. My next task was listening to it. It sat in my TBR list for several months and then my chance came: needing a book for the monthly book review podcast I co-host. Boom! It only took a few minutes to talk my friends into it and we were set.
Like many older books I’ve read, I was initially caught off guard by heavy racism and racist epithets used throughout. Eventually, I get to the point where I acknowledge them and move on because they’re part of the time period and, while certainly not acceptable, they were a part of the vernacular used by white folks whether they considered themselves racist or not. Again, I’m not excusing any of it.
About halfway through the book, I decided to watch the movie. Immediately, I missed being inside the head of our narrator, The Chief. I loved him so much and wished more of him came through in the film. But instead, it’s all about McMurphy. Which, I suppose, isn’t too different from the book, except we’re getting Bromden’s interpretation of McMurphy. I didn’t care much for or about McMurphy but he certainly was the central character.
It would take a while for me to get all of my feelings about the book down here but if you’re interested in the book, we ended up having a fantastic discussion on Cocktail Hour (http://cocktailhour.us/archives/1262). I love how three people reading the same thing take so many different things from it. One of the biggest aspects we talked about was how misogyny was everywhere and that two of us didn’t really pay that much attention to it. That bit of the conversation has stuck with me since.
Bottom line, I loved the writing and the style and I really loved Bromden. Be warned there’s plenty of racist and misogynistic language but if you’re up for it, I highly recommend it.