A Year In Books

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Last week I read One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Now it may come as a surprise that I had never read this book before. But if that shocked you then you are really going to be blown away by the fact I’ve never seen the movie either. (Patiently waits for heads to explode and regenerate)

It’s true. I’m not sure how I missed either of them, but I did. So, I read the book this week. It was a birthday gift from my Aunt and Uncle (Holla!) And I am so glad they gave it to me. There were times when I wasn’t sure how much I liked it. There were times when I couldn’t put it down. I think that’s probably the sign of a good book. The characters were certainly very powerful and masterfully written. Very layered. Also, I think the fact that Kesey was working in a psychiatry ward and participating in LSD trials himself, makes this book amazing. I can definitely see where the LSD came into play. I love the metaphors and though I know they are relating to the oppressiveness of the 1950’s- I think they are applicable at any time for anyone who feels oppressed by anything. Broad sweeping it definitely covers one of my favorite expressions “The tyranny of the present”. I didn’t like the theme of women as castrators or that fact that the oppression of women at the time was barely, if at all, touched upon. Although, seeing as how Kesey was a man I can understand why it would be difficult to see the woman’s point of view. I just mean that women were sent to insane asylums for a lot less and treated quite poorly in this same time period. Womanhood was challenged and oppressed just as much as manhood was. I’m just sayin.

All that aside, the overwhelming the fact that humor was shown as a powerful weapon was dead on for me. Fighting injustice, fighting tyranny, with humor, well, those are all things I’m very interested in. Sure, it may not always work. Sure, it may never work. But there is still something very powerful about combatting pain and injury and oppression with humor. It’s why Kurt Vonnegut wrote books, it’s why people  like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are so successful, it’s why political cartoons are given such weight worldwide. Laugher is strength people. Laughter is strength.

“Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.”

What have you been reading?

4 thoughts on “A Year In Books

  1. one of the handful of “read in one sitting” books for me. The film is excellent but as is more often the case the book shines brighter. Are you saying women can’t be castrators? That’s like saying men should not be portrayed as rapists. within any large group there will be a small sampling of all types of behavior. And in the end, I came away with a small amount of hope for a changed Nurse Ratched, even at the cost of…well…you know. don’t want to spoil things….

    1. Not at all. Women can definitely be castrators, and Ratched certainly was one, I just didn’t like that all the women in this book, those present and those just talked about were considered castrators. For a book with such layered characters the women were very one dimensional. I would have loved to see a female foible to Nurse Ratched- perhaps a woman patient or a strong-willed and intelligent nurse. I just thought that for a book to be considered so counter-culture, his views on women seemed shockingly un-progressive. I still loved the book though.

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