Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Crazy Good Book - Emphasis on Crazy

Currently Reading: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a book of contradictions.

The supposedly deaf main character hears more than anyone else.

The caring, smiling nurse with a sensual body is actually a sadistic tyrant who does everything in her power to never appear as a sexual being.

The therapy sessions to create a sense of trust amongst the men actually encourage them to fink on each other and shame each other into total isolation.

The line between the sane and insane is consistently blurred, as the people in charge repeatedly seem crazier than the men they are meant to be treating.

And the aggressive, swindling con man who lies his way into the insane asylum to avoid being a prison laborer, who only seems to care about himself, turns out to be the only one willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of giving the men on the ward their sense of humanity back.

It’s a short book that takes on so much and it has struck me to my core in both an awful and a wonderful way.

This novel is a bleak look of how a person can be broken down, almost methodically into a shell of a human – a scared, sack of flesh and fog, too beaten to even have the strength or courage to laugh. And yet, it is also a hopeful, sympathetic look at how any “crazy” person can be recovered by just being treated like a man; by being shown compassion and encouragement rather than being treated like a sick, damaged sub-human, only good for being poked and prodded like an animal lined up for slaughter.

It was the most bizarre yet beautiful mix of make-your-skin-crawl horror, make-you-want-to-give-up-on-people sadness, and make-you-actually-laugh-out-loud humor.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a book of contradictions. But in the end, my reactions came to one harmonious conclusion:

I absolutely loved this book. If you haven’t read it, you really should.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reading Challenge: The Results

Currently Reading: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

So the short month of February has come to a close and March is already trucking along at a terrifying pace. The shamrocks, leprechauns and excessive amounts of green have quickly replaced the red hearts, cupids and excessive amounts of pink; the population anxiously – and impatiently – awaits the Groundhog’s prediction of early spring to come to fruition; and the sun is beginning to push its way into longer and longer days.

It is the end of the shortest – and yet somehow the longest – month, and so too is it the end of my blog reading challenge.

It occurred to me that with my last challenge, the results were readily known. It was easy to know whether or not I failed because the nine products of the challenge were publically posted. However, this reading challenge of reading four books in the month of February produced results that were off (the computer) screen. And as I’m sure you’re all just dying to know all about my reading habits, I thought I should perhaps dedicate a short blog post to the results.

Plus, this way I get the satisfaction of saying:


That’s right! I read four books in February! Although, I didn’t exactly stick to the pace of reading one book a week. In fact, I wonder a little bit whether or not I should consider this challenge successfully completed because I feel I may have cheated a little. After all, I started my first book (The Return of the King) two days before January ended and the last book I read was The Old Man and the Sea, which took all of 24 hours to finish. However, I’m considering the challenge a victory because I did make a small dent in a fifth book (the one I’m currently reading) before February passed into March.

In case you’re wondering what books made the reading list – and what books you can expect posts about in the coming weeks – I’ve listed them below.

1. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
3. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I really enjoy setting these personal goals related to my reading and writing so I expect this won’t be the last. If you have any suggestions of reading or writing challenges I might take on, please let me know!