2 Following

The Classics Companion

I have a (small) obsession with books and tv shows. Proud geek.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Penguin Modern Classics)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I'd heard this referenced many a time in other books and TV shows, so for me, it was something I knew I had to read. The idea of a whole book set in a mental asylum, based off the author's use of drugs and working on a psychiatric ward, it sparked my interest to say the least. I'm not going to lie, I was slightly apprehensive about reading it. Why? I wasn't sure if I'd like it. My dislike for the unreliable narrator really put me on edge of odd narration, although I knew it could be used to make a book brilliant, I knew it also could break a book for me. But still, I persevered.It took me a while to get into it, mainly because I was stupidly busy at the time, but I also found it started slightly slow. The narration, I didn't find a problem, it added a twist that I think was needed to get really inside the minds of the characters. I think the characters was the exact reason it took so long. You're immediately introduced to a set of characters who you know are going to be odd, and it's not until about half way through the book do you start considering them actually as people. Maybe I did  too much research on the book before reading, but to me, my mind was constantly wary of their mental state, which I knew was the wrong way to approach it. By the time you start seeing the 'revolution' in the book, that's when the characters come alive. I felt a personal link to Billy, who suffered from a stutter much like I do. It was refreshing to see a character who was more than his stutter, nor was it faked or somehow used as a coy. It was simply someone, with a stutter, who albeit was mad, but still just a guy.The narrative can be slightly confusing at times. The unstable mentality of the narrator (The Chief) means it drifts between what's happening on the ward and his past, very effortlessly, with no warning or even a paragraph break. After a few occasions of this happening, my mind got used to it, and I found it to be interesting. Kesey was able to draw parallels between the happenings in the ward, and the tribe that the Chief originated from, which kind of took it away from being an outlandish mental asylum to an actual community of people.The ending, was shocking. It was unexpected, and to be honest, broke my heart. You expected it to end in joy, after so much freedom and escapism with the party, but the fall of McMurphy really gets to you. The downfall of Nurse Ratched's power and the breakdown of the war in the end gave the book a nice finality, while the story of McMurphy was left at a very poignant end, where you see just how horrible the mental institutions can be.Overall, Ken Kesey's book was a really joy to read, and proved to me that odd narratives can be equally amazing as they can be damning. It's a different read, one that I doubt I'll find anywhere else.