“Along the western slopes of the Oregon Coastal Range … come look: the hysterical crashing of tributaries as they merge into the Wakonda Auga River.” -Ken Kesey
According to The Register-Guard in Eugene, Faye Kesey is negotiating the sale of Ken Kesey’s library to University of Oregon, where the great American writer went to school and later taught creative writing.
The typed manuscript of â€œCuckooâ€™s Nestâ€ is among thousands of documents from Keseyâ€™s literary life being stored by the University of Oregon libraryâ€™s special collections department while the UO and the Kesey family negotiate the permanent acquisition of the material.
â€œThis is the guy who took us from the beats to the hippies,â€ says James Fox, head of the UOâ€™s Special Collections and University Archives.
From a literary perspective, Kesey is so much more than “the the guy who took us from the beats to the hippies.” He’s a 20th century master, who wrote not one, but two Great American Novels, then followed those with Sailor Song and other works.
Bob Keefer of The Register-Guard got a look at some of the documents in preparation for his article.
A quick tour of the contents of some of the boxes produced such treats as a September 1959 letter that Kesey sent to friend Ken Babbs. That was the year he wrote â€œCuckooâ€™s Nest,â€ but had not yet found a publisher.
â€œThus my plight,â€ the young Kesey typed. â€œA failure at 24, impotent both physically and artistically. If I havenâ€™t taken a Gilette to my wrists by the time you people get here in March to cheer me up there may be hope. But I doubt it.â€
It’s funny how we don’t think of our heroes or iconic Americans as people who had doubts and intense struggles en route to their success. Clearly they did struggle and did doubt. That’s the human condition, but it’s also the human condition to believe and to overcome.