Ken Keesley’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, #49 on the ALA’s Most Banned and Challenged Books from 2000-2010 sucks you right into another world and keeps you there, straight-jacketed by the prose and the action of non action, until the very last page. And then, days and weeks and months after shutting the book you still find yourself thinking about it… and wondering why the heck you haven’t written your Year of READING Dangerously entry for it.
For the record I really, really liked this novel. I really liked the movie too — I think it is Jack Nicholson‘s best work — but in the book, which I read long after seeing the movie, we get much more information on the minor characters and generally more to think about. The thing I liked the most about the book was the P.O.V. perspective of Chief Broom, and that fact that as a mental patient he is a somewhat unreliable narrator. As much as Murphy is the protagonist (and what a protagonist he is!) the Chief is the main character. Murphy moves the plot, but the Chief is the one I found myself caring about.
As established previously, I’m not the banning kind… but IF I were the banning kind I’d probably find a LOT of fault here. Racial slurs abound. Offensive Language, Nudity, Sexism, Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, hints of Homosexuality, and lots of Violence.
Besides the 1975 movie the book was also adapted into a stage play in 1963. That makes sense as almost all the action takes place in the ward. I’d love to see this on stage. It would work really well on both a big atrium stage and in a small in the round setting.
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