Ken Kesey (September 17, 1935 - November 10, 2001) was an American author, best known for his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and as a cultural figure whom some consider a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s.

Experimentation with Psychoactive Drugs[]

At Stanford University in 1959, Kesey volunteered to take part in a study at the Menlo Park, California Veterans Hospital on the effects of psychoactive drugs. These included LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and/or IT-290 (AMT). Kesey wrote many detailed accounts of his experiences with these drugs, both during the study and in years of private experimentation that followed. His role as a medical guinea pig inspired Kesey to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1962. The success of this book, as well as the sale of his residence at Stanford, caused him to move to La Honda, California, in the mountains outside San Francisco. He frequently entertained friends with parties he called acid tests involving music (such as Kesey's favorite band, The Warlocks, later known as the Grateful Dead), black lights, fluorescent paint, strobes, and other "psychedelic" effects, and of course LSD (often slipped surreptitiously into a punch). These parties were noted in some of Allen Ginsberg's poems and are also described in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

List of Major Works[]

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. New York: Viking. 1962.
  • Sometimes a Great Notion. New York: Viking. 1964.
  • Kesey's Garage Sale. New York: Viking. 1972.
  • Demon Box. New York: Penguin. 1986.
  • Caverns. New York: Penguin. 1990.
  • The Further Inquiry (screenplay). New York: Viking. 1990.
  • Sailor Song. New York: Viking, Penguin. 1992.
  • Last Go Round (with Ken Babbs). New York: Viking. 1994.
  • "Twister" (play). New York: Viking. 1999.
  • Edited his own self-published literary journal Spit in the Ocean, which serialized his unpublished novel Seven Prayers by Grandma Whittier, 1970s, seven issues.

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