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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
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Group Reads - Fiction > July & August 2018 Classic Group Read - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kasey

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Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Hello everyone, feel free to discuss our group read for July and August here. As the poll resulted in a tie, we will be reading The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux between September and October.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
I'm looking forward to reading this book, I first came across this book during my Mental Illness in Literature in my final year, and it was used as our only example of male characters experiencing mental illnesses (view spoiler) I have also watched the movie and thought it was really good; I am dying to re-read this because I felt I didn't get the chance to enjoy this book during the time because of time pressure put on me. Despite this I think I gave it four stars, I wonder if my opinion changes now I have had the chance to read more male perspectives on mental health issues.


Greg | 7688 comments Mod
I have been so busy with life stuff that I haven't read a book or logged onto Goodreads in months. But I got an audiobook of this for my trip to Arizona this weekend; so I'll be joining in!


Chrissie Greg, many of us have been worrying about you and wondering where you had disappeared to. Nice to have you back!


Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "Greg, many of us have been worrying about you and wondering where you had disappeared to. Nice to have you back!"

Thanks Chrissie! :)

Always lots going on, but I'm hangimg in there!


message 6: by Chrissie (last edited Jun 29, 2018 11:10PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie I might read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That is just a maybe. I did not vote for it.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "I have been so busy with life stuff that I haven't read a book or logged onto Goodreads in months. But I got an audiobook of this for my trip to Arizona this weekend; so I'll be joining in!"

Great. Hope you enjoy it Greg. I will hopefully get started on it in the middle of next week.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "I might read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That is just a maybe. I did not vote for it."

It's a fairly short novel so hopefully wouldn't take long and there is the film which sweeped up at the academy awards however the movie missed out on so many important points throughout the novel but in my opinion it's still worth a watch for the supporting cast alone and Louise Fletcher. I look forward to reading what you think if you do decide to pick it up, Chrissie.


Chrissie Yep, it is very short. I have been checking out some new reviews. One person told me that she got very attached to the characters, which is important to me, and that it is sad, which doesn't bother me. There is supposed to be humor too, which I immediately heard when I listened to the audioook. I will give it a try. I will be busy next week so I will put it off a bit. Others can get started and I will join later.


message 10: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 97 comments Just picked up One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Saw the movie. Looking forward to the read.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Norton wrote: "Just picked up One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Saw the movie. Looking forward to the read."

Lovely to have you join us, Norton.


Karin | 1990 comments I read this when I was in high school, so I think I'll have to reread it before discussing it as I don't remember much about it now.


message 13: by David (new) - added it

David | 126 comments Does everyone know who the author of book was and what he did? I think that knowing this particular author’s life makes this book much more interesting to read.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
David wrote: "Does everyone know who the author of book was and what he did? I think that knowing this particular author’s life makes this book much more interesting to read."

https://www.biography.com/people/ken-...

This is what we were given when we studied the novel.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
And here's the context for the novel, I always find these interesting especially when I studied the books:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/cuckoo/...


message 16: by David (new) - added it

David | 126 comments Allanah, thank you. I would also direct folks to Tom Wolfe’s very short and very entertaining but also informative book, “The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test”.


message 17: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
David wrote: "Allanah, thank you. I would also direct folks to Tom Wolfe’s very short and very entertaining but also informative book, “The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test”."

Thanks David, from the little I know of it that book sounds pretty wild - could be interesting! On Amazon it lists as 450 pages though. Is it really that long?


message 18: by Greg (last edited Jul 02, 2018 11:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
I read this once before, but it was years ago - I just started my re-read today. I love the vividness of the writing! In "Chief's" perspective, everything is slightly exaggerated and larger than life but also beautifully described.

Sometimes, his mental condition clearly warps his description of events - for instance, it can't be true in chapter 3 when he says that (view spoiler). Chief sees the world metaphorically - all things aren't always literally true. Other things, such as the horrible detail (view spoiler) have a ring of truth about them - I think that actually happened.

I really like the repeated images of machinery & electronics - it makes complete sense given Chief's background in electronics/machinery with the armed forces. But the mental illness gives the imagery some odd twists. For instance the "eyes glittering out of their black faces like the hard glitter of radio tubes" and the "lips, funny orange like the tip of a soldering iron." All of this odd, vivid imagery is making the book a fantastic read for me on the sentence level!

One of my favorite images so far is the description of Harding's hands that look (view spoiler) Such a strange and vivid description ... a hint of some gender nonconformity here as well.

Actually there's a lot of weird hangups based around race & gender already by chapter 5 - the emasculating head nurse, the ward's public relations man described in clearly feminine ways (hairless, high voice), many other instances. I don't know what it's all about yet.

Maybe "Chief" has some issues on those lines that are coming through in the depiction? There's a flashback in chapter 4 where (view spoiler) and I imagine that as the (view spoiler). Is that why these weird gender motifs keep coming up? Not sure yet.

One last thing: in chapter 5: I found Pete's backstory and outburst incredibly moving. Kesey captures the poignancy of Pete's impossible situation perfectly!!


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I've got a kindle copy of this but I want to read our fiction read and one for my IRL book club first. I also have a library book that will need to go back so i'll hopefully join in towards the end of July.

Will be a first read for me and I'm interested


message 20: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "I've got a kindle copy of this but I want to read our fiction read and one for my IRL book club first. I also have a library book that will need to go back so i'll hopefully join in towards the end..."

Hope you get to it Heather! I'm enjoying my re-read! :)


Chrissie I was considering reading this but have decided against it. I dithered back and forht but thought I should make myself clear.


message 22: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "I was considering reading this but have decided against it. I dithered back and forht but thought I should make myself clear."

Ok Chrissie


message 23: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Has anyone else started yet?


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "Has anyone else started yet?"

I have, haven't gotten very far though, also found all my notes from when I read it the first time. It's quite interesting to re-read them four years later. It seems like as a reader I had focused all my attention on McMurphy's entrance and not much else in the first quarter of the novel.


message 25: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "Greg wrote: "Has anyone else started yet?"

I have, haven't gotten very far though, also found all my notes from when I read it the first time. It's quite interesting to re-read them four years lat..."


That makes sense Alannah - his arrival is definitely a big event in the story and all the characters' lives!

I often find that I don't remember books that well years later unless I've read them multiple times. That's partly why I often re-read books I like. I wish I had a photographic memory! I've got some good talents, but that is definitely not one of them. :)


B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Greg, I won't be re-reading the novel but do remember it and the corresponding movie quite well. I will enjoy reading your (and anyone else's) comments here.


Chrissie I am following the discussion but still I remain un-enticed......

What makes this book special?


message 28: by Greg (last edited Jul 06, 2018 09:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "I am following the discussion but still I remain un-enticed......

What makes this book special?"


In my opinion, the quality of the writing and imagery are superb - extremely vivid; the imagery is unusual enough to have freshness, which is always a pleasure. A great many books lack this; so I find it something to treasure. Also, the narrative voice is compelling, I would say very strong.

Several incidents are poignant - I definitely feel emotionally involved in the story, which is almost always a hard requirement for me to like something.

I really don't know if you would like it though.

I can see you feeling that some of the character portraits are exaggerated, though that stems from the unreliability of the narrator. There are some troubling racial & gender aspects in the portrayals of some characters as well, but again, it is written from the unreliable perspective/POV of a character with mental issues. I really like the internal consistency of that point of view though - it definitely rings true for me.

I expect to rate the book very highly at this point. So far, I like it even better than I did the first time around years ago.


Chrissie Greg, thanks for explaining how you are thinking.


message 30: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess Penhallow | 117 comments I've not started the actual book yet but have read the brilliant introduction by Robert Faggen. It was good to get some historical context because the 60s were a bit before my time.


message 31: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Jess wrote: "I've not started the actual book yet but have read the brilliant introduction by Robert Faggen. It was good to get some historical context because the 60s were a bit before my time."

I'm glad to have some company in reading Jess! :) My copy doesn't have an introduction; so if you find anything interesting in the one by Faggen, it would be great if you could share it with us!

The 60s were a bit before my time too - I was born in the 70s.


B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Chrissie wrote: "I am following the discussion but still I remain un-enticed......

What makes this book special?"


from Wikipedia" The novel was written in 1959 and published in 1962 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement and deep changes to the way psychology and psychiatry were being approached in America. The 1960s began the controversial movement towards deinstitutionalization, an act that would have affected the characters in Kesey's novel. The novel is a direct product of Kesey's time working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California. Not only did he speak to the patients and witness the workings of the institution, but he voluntarily took psychoactive drugs, including mescaline and LSD, as part of Project MKUltra."

So Kesey did just not 'make' up the book, he saw it, he was familiar with it. It is not really fiction based.


message 33: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
B the BookAddict wrote: "Chrissie wrote: "I am following the discussion but still I remain un-enticed......

What makes this book special?"

from Wikipedia" The novel was written in 1959 and published in 1962 in the midst..."


Interesting Bette! I didn't know that Kesey had worked as an orderly in a mental institution, but that helps to explain why the book is so wonderfully vivid and rich in significant detail! A direct experience always adds something I think.

Though it also requires a lot of imagination to create such a compelling narrative voice - "Chief'"'s POV is remarkably cohesive & compelling!


Chrissie Bette, VERY interesting information you have provided. Thank you. I guess you could say I am still dithering.


message 35: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Jacey wrote: "I have had this book on my nightstand for a few months and am glad to say that I just finished another book and am free to read this one! Yay!
Happy Reading All!"


Great Jacey! :)


message 36: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 97 comments Alannah wrote: "Norton wrote: "Just picked up One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Saw the movie. Looking forward to the read."

Lovely to have you join us, Norton."


Thanks, I've tried to get into "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" . I tried, but I just couldn't make it. If I could have somehow latched on to the thought process of the main character I could have read it through but I couldn't. It was too delusional for me.


message 37: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 97 comments Good luck folks! I'd like to hear how you all come out on this. When it first came out everyone flocked to the movies, including me. It may be age but "One Flew ,,," wasn't a read I could get into.


message 38: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Norton wrote: "Good luck folks! I'd like to hear how you all come out on this. When it first came out everyone flocked to the movies, including me. It may be age but "One Flew ,,," wasn't a read I could get into."

I'm really enjoying the book Norton, but I can understand where you're coming from. Chief's POV is definitely steeped in his mental state & condition; so the book's flavor is a bit different than usual.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
I'm taking my time with this one as I rushed through it last time I read it as once I had gotten through the introduction of McMurphy (for my presentation, to compare it with the movie which is what I focused on), I didn't need to focus on it as much,
I'm with you on that one Norton, I feel like I've also latched onto the thought process of Chief and it's almost delusional, but I think that's the point that the author is trying to stress.
(view spoiler)


message 40: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 97 comments Nicely done! I'm glad you're enjoying it.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Greg wrote: "Norton wrote: "Good luck folks! I'd like to hear how you all come out on this. When it first came out everyone flocked to the movies, including me. It may be age but "One Flew ,,," wasn't a read I ..."

So far, I am enjoying the book more than the movie. That's probably because I liked Chief's character a lot more than McMurphy in the movie.


message 42: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 97 comments Glad you're enjoying the read.


message 43: by Greg (last edited Jul 15, 2018 02:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "I'm taking my time with this one as I rushed through it last time I read it as once I had gotten through the introduction of McMurphy (for my presentation, to compare it with the movie which is wha..."

I agree with your spoiler Alannah! It does seem that they are (view spoiler)


message 44: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 97 comments Alannah wrote: "I'm taking my time with this one as I rushed through it last time I read it as once I had gotten through the introduction of McMurphy (for my presentation, to compare it with the movie which is wha..."

I'm sure that's what the author was trying to get across. It;s just not something I can get into. That's not a criticism of the author. I believe that authors and readers have a special relationship. But not every author is for every reader.


message 45: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7688 comments Mod
Norton wrote: "I believe that authors and readers have a special relationship. But not every author is for every reader. ..."

I definitely agree Norton!


message 46: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess Penhallow | 117 comments How is everyone getting on with this? I guess most of you have finished already.

I'm taking this one really slow because it's just not the sort of book that makes me want to keep reading for page after page. I'm picking it up and enjoying what I am reading but then not really feeling an urge to pick it up again.

I am 70% through (view spoiler) and it feels like the plot is finally picking up.

I am also a bit put off by the sexism and racism (should be expected of a book of this era, I guess) and a bit confused by the 60s colloquialisms. I don't really understand half of what McMurphy says!

I like the rebellious feel of the novel and the fact that one person can so disrupt the status quo of an environment. I feel like everything that was written in the 60s in America was at some level influenced by the Cold War. Do you think this is pushing an individualist/anti-communist narrative?

(view spoiler).


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12315 comments Mod
Jess wrote: "How is everyone getting on with this? I guess most of you have finished already.

I'm taking this one really slow because it's just not the sort of book that makes me want to keep reading for page ..."


Yeah, it definitely does take a while to really get through, I'm popping in and out of the book as I've been trying to write a review, not going well as my computer does not want to co-operate, everything I write keeps getting lost. haha

I think you are at the bit where it does pick up, I find it interesting from this point onwards as (view spoiler)


message 48: by Pam (new) - added it

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 677 comments I have been meaning to read this book for years now and it’s on my list of 100 authors/books to read before (age) 60! I don’t have time to read it now but am more interested after reading your comments. I remember the movie from decades ago. One particularly dramatic scene towards the end stands out in my mind. I’ve always had a fascination w psychology and mental health so I think I would enjoy this one.


Ashley  The Bookworm  (ashley_the_bworm) I just got done reading it for the first time and I enjoyed it but with the constant back and forth from the chiefs view I felt like I had to go and reread it to try to figure out what was going on. There were times while reading it I would just be very lost trying to figure out what was going on. I never saw the movie and didnt have any plans on doing that until I read the book. But Im going to put it off until I can read the book so I can get a full understanding of what is going on an be able to fully appreciate the story and the characters


Ashley  The Bookworm  (ashley_the_bworm) I just got done reading it for the first time and I enjoyed it but with the constant back and forth from the chiefs view I felt like I had to go and reread it to try to figure out what was going on. There were times while reading it I would just be very lost trying to figure out what was going on. I never saw the movie and didnt have any plans on doing that until I read the book. But Im going to put it off until I can read the book so I can get a full understanding of what is going on an be able to fully appreciate the story and the characters


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