Hansen Wendlandt's Reviews > One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
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's review
Jul 26, 2011

it was amazing
Read in April, 1996

Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye, and A Separate Peace were important coming-of-age novels, but Cuckoo's was the first proper adult novel to impact me, as well as the first in which I underlined. (A causal connection?) Common as it would seem for an 18 year old, I was thrilled with McMurphy's overdrawn independence. Chief is, and was for me, such a more interesting character. (Was I then aware of the clever literary style Kesey used with his narration?) To hell with the water fountin, who could effect such power with silence? Or Billy, who showed us both how to grow, and how we suffer own own guilt for taking a bit of this world for ourselves. But the most important character, and the most important two words of my reading career so far: Old Pete Bancini, "I'm tired. Whew. O Lord. Oh, I'm awful tired." (42) Somewhere McMurphy diagnoses that none of these guys is crazy--because they all live some truth itching to tear itself out of our soul, albeit in anti-social, or anti-societal ways that lands them, and would land us, in the box. But beside McMurphy's statement of self-importance, and Chief's calm awareness of the chaos surrounding, and Billy's push and pull of shy and guilt, it is Bancini's simple acknowledgement that stands so stark. Because, I'm tired, and I'm tired of acting like I can handle all of this, and I'm tired of fighting tiredness... and yet to give in, would, be, crazy. The movie (which portrays a classic well as any movie ever has), nails Bancini, and nails how McMurphys self-aggrandisement eventually falls out of line with the pain of being tired, and the deeper pain that no one is sane enough to pay attention.

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