February Books 18) One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

This is a pretty tough book, in many ways: the violence and abuse perpetrated by the staff of the mental institution where the story is set is uncomfortable to read (and I have a daughter who is permanently institutionalised, so it cuts rather close to home). Also I was rather dismayed by the racism and sexism of the story: the only black characters are the brutal male nurses (though the narrator is half Native American); the main female character is the Big Evil Nurse (the other women depicted are two prostitutes and the Little Good Nurse, who comes in only at the end). It was probably not Kesey’s intention, but I could see white American men who believe that they are being oppressed taking comfort and inspiration from this novel.

Having said that, it would be the wrong message. The book is about disorder and development – disorder in two senses, the mental disorders that many of the patients suffer and the disorder and subversion that McMurphy brings to the ward, and the opportunities he offers for his fellow inmates to develop n new directions. There is a tremendously cathartic couple of chapters about a deep-sea fishing expedition which almost summarises the entire book. The violent conclusion leaves several key characters dead but gives others the means of liberating themselves. So in the end I was glad to have read it, though I will not come back to it any time soon.

Top LibraryThing Unsuggestion: Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages by Haddon W. Robinson

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1 Response to February Books 18) One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

  1. ext_447352 says:

    One obvious problem with such a system is that different assembly constituencies will elect different numbers of members, with a corresponding effect on chances of election. When all seats have the same number there is a nominally level playing field, but introduce such variation and it becomes more pot luck as to what level the quota is.

    Also were there ever any studies of how the Assembly would have gone if they’d used five member constituencies at each election? Odd numbers in STV tend to favour the dominant strand of local opinion, even numbers tend towards a more levelled affair.

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