One of the "Merry Pranksters"

Ken Kesey, novelist known as one of the the Merry Pranksters was born on this day, September 17, 1935 in La Junta, Colorado. When he was a student at Stanford, he took part in a VA experiment which was his introduction to a psychedelic drug called LSD. The experience changed his life and he became fascinated with the concepts of sanity and insanity. He took a job as a night attendant at a psychiatric ward which inspired his most famous book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which later became a movie starring Jack Nicholson as the infamous McMurphy.

Kesey was an inspiration to a whole generation of counter-cultural activists with his famous bus tour on the "Further," the name of the Prankster's bus. This journey inspired Tom Wolfe to write The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Kesey's second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion about a lumberworkers'strike on the Oregon coast was probably of greater literary merit but not as successful as Cuckoo's Nest.



Sometimes a Great Notion is perhaps the most quintessentially "Oregon" book ever written. It was simply amazing and reflected Kesey's deep connection to the state. I found the book incredibly poignant. It actually got chosen as one of the Oregon State Library's top 100 Oregon books.