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One flew over the cuckoo's nest
Ken Kesey
Adult Fiction KESEY

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Ken Kesey, 1935 - 2001 Born in Colorado, graduated from the University of Oregon, and since then a sometimes vagabond resident of the West Coast, Kesey has published only two full-length novels, but they have helped to give him a cult following. "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1962) owes much to Kesey's own experience as a ward attendant in a mental hospital. This exciting first novel is told from the point of view of a half-Indian man who thinks of himself as the Big Chief pictured on the writing tablets of everybody's school days looking out at the other inmates in a Disneylike world. Its portrayal of the doomed but heroic rebel McMurphy stood for a particular kind of American individualism. Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) is a long, complex novel that troubled many of Kesey's earlier readers. Kesey's most recent novel is Demon Box (1987); although it was somewhat well received, it was still compared unfavorably to his earlier works. Ken Kesey died on November 11, 2001. (Bowker Author Biography) Born in September of 1935 in La Junta, Colorado, Ken Kesey is best known for his first published novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This work, about an inmate at a mental institution who tries to find the freedom and independence denied to him in the outside world, was adapted into a highly successful movie of the same name. It starred Louise Fletcher (in an Academy-Award-winning performance) and Jack Nicholson. Keysey's other works include Sometimes A Great Notion and Sailor Sons, a weird allegory involving environmental crises, a middle-aged writer, and a rock band named the Dreadful Great. His primary works cover the goings-on of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the Hippies of the 1960s. Other novels written by Kesey include Demon Box, Last Go Round: A Dime Western, The Sea Lion, and Further Inquiry. (Bowker Author Biography)

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main characters Randall Patrick McMurphy
Psychiatric patient
Rebellious; rule-breaker; perfectly sane.

Nurse Ratched "Big Nurse"
Psychiatric nurse; controlling.

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