Saturday, April 21, 2012

School Reading: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Publisher: Signet
Date: 1962 (1975)
Format: very tattered paperback
Acquired: one of my dad's books of his teenage years
Read: for AP Psychology
Pages: 272
Reading time: ten days

From GoodReads: You've never met anyone like Randle Patrick McMurphy, the hero of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He's a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the ward of a mental hospital and takes over...He's a lusty, profane, life-loving fighter who rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Big Nurse. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women. At every turn, he openly defies her rule. The contest starts as sport (with McMurphy taking bets on the outcome) but soon it develops into a grim struggle for the minds and hearts of the men, into an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Big Nurse, backed by the full power of authority...McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will.

My review: If I hadn't been reading this for a class, I probably would have quit around page 70. I was just so bored for about 2/3 of the novel. It seemed like nothing much happened - and this is coming from someone who enjoys those nothing-happens-for-the-entire-book-as-we-examine-a-protagonist's-whole-life novels of the 19th century. Sure, the insights into crazy people's minds were interesting, but the story just didn't really grab my attention the way I expected it would. I usually enjoy mid-20th century social novels like this, but this was just...boring.

Granted, the last 1/4 of the book made it a worthwhile read. Things suddenly picked up, and the novel became fascinating and exciting. I began to see where Kesey was going with this blasting of America's mental institutions...mostly. I felt like that aspect of the book could have been brought out and developed way more, because I was left with a hunch as to Kesey's intent, but not the whole picture. I don't really have a great opinion of his writing right now. If you're reading this for a psychology class or because this type of book is just your thing, the novel is a good read. If not, well, don't expect to get past page 70.

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