[Today is] the birthday of Ken Kesey, born in La Junta, Colorado (1935). He was a champion wrestler in high school and voted most likely to succeed. He married his high school sweetheart and then accepted a fellowship in creative writing at Stanford. He got a job as a night aide at the VA hospital in Menlo Park, which is where he heard about an experiment in search of volunteers. It was part of the CIA‘s Project MK-ULTRA, which was investigating various mind control techniques; they were injecting people with psychoactive drugs like LSD and mescaline, and observing their reactions. Kesey signed up and was paid $75; in addition to the money, the experiment provided him with an idea for a novel. He combined the drug trips with his experience working as a hospital aide and wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962). It’s the story of a struggle between a powerful nurse named Miss Ratched and a con man named Randle Patrick McMurphy, who feigns insanity to get out of a jail sentence, and it’s considered Kesey’s masterpiece.
from The Writer’s Almanac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest scared the living hell out of mom. One of her greatest fears was being institutionalized and losing her mind.
She was also terrified by The Birds, the 1963 Hitchcock film, though she somehow managed to avoid getting pecked to death.
It’s been five weeks since she died.