← Reviews

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Ken Kesey

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 4 September 2013

Ken Kesey's anti-establishment novel is for a powerful, absorbing, gripping, twisting, turning and pulling tale about control. Kesey plugs us into the mechanics of his narrative and we succumb to his language without a fight. Like his characters, we turn each page hoping that McMurphey will liberate us.

McMurphey arrives at the psychiatric ward with scruffy hair, workmen's hands, rough, loud and proud. He is the catalyst, sparking humanity from the inmates and alerting the warning machines of the controllers. He acts as the rebel and outlaw, bending and breaking the rules of the ward. The plot runs almost as a series of events in which Nurse Ratchett and McMurphy duel.

The voice of the novel is not McMurphey's but of the mute inmate known as Chief and it is from his perspective that we view the story. The Chief's insight is unique and his interaction with the other characters is initially, that of but a fly on the wall which sometimes finds it way to the table. However once McMurphy notices him, he is forced deeper into the thick of things.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is funny, sad, rebellious and thoughtful. I enjoyed it both as a high school student - focusing on the themes and subtext - as well as recently, revisiting it again as a general reader. This time focusing less on the mechanics and more on the humanity.