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Kesey's Jail Journal: Cut the M************ Loose Hardcover – November 10, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Group / Viking; 1st edition (November 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670876933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670876938
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 8.2 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the leader of the Merry Pranksters, Kesey was a seminal '60s anti-authority figure-with some consequences via The Man. His lushly illustrated account of time in prison was begun in 1968, when Kesey was serving time for pot possession in an experimental low-security "camp." Kesey drew, collaged and wrote a running narrative of his experiences in several notebooks, which 30 years later, toward the end of his life, he assembled into this single work. The original intent was to contrast the swirling, colorful collages and watercolors of his jail surroundings-many of which suggest the influence of Blake-on the verso pages with printed text on facing rectos, but his later revision and considerable expansion of the text decidedly tilts toward the text. The latter reads like a time capsule of slang and drug references that will instantly transport those that partook: "Hot Double Damn! There's four STP tabs, couple of psilocybin pills and five good old Owsley purples!" A running confrontation with a camp supervisor named John Wayne illustrates Kesey's ongoing interest in authority figures out to crush the spirit, but does not resolve as it would in a work of fiction. While often silly and funny, Kesey also poignantly and often tragically depicts issues such as racial tension, mental instability and the eternal clash between order and freedom.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Ken Kesey was born in 1935 and grew up in Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon and later studied at Stanford with Wallace Stegner, Malcolm Cowley, Richard Scowcroft, and Frank O' Connor. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, his first novel, was published in 1962. His second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, followed in 1964. His other books include Kesey's Garage Sale, Demon Box, Caverns (with O. U. Levon), The Further Inquiry, Sailor Song, and Last Go Round (with Ken Babbs). His two children's books are Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear and The Sea Lion. Ken Kesey died on November 10, 2001.


More About the Author

Ken Kesey was born in Colorado in 1935. He founded the Merry Pranksters in the sixties and became a cult hero, a phenomenon documented by Tom Wolfe in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He died in 2001.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By W. C HALL VINE VOICE on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Get ready for quite a trip...this really isn't a book, it's a time machine. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the journey, courtesy of the one and only Ken Kesey.

Many of the icons of the counterculture movement spent 1967's famous Summer of Love in places like Swinging London, Monterrey or Haight-Ashbury. Kesey was far removed from the heart of the action during those months--he was serving out a jail sentence for his conviction on a marijuana possession charge. Thanks to his lack of a previous record, Kesey was able to do most of his time in a sheriff's honor camp, an experiment in rehabilitation nestled in the California redwoods.

Kesey managed to keep a journal of his days in confinment, pouring forth his raw emotions, vivid dreams, sometimes gentle, sometimes agressive encounters with authority figures and fellow prisoners. He supplemented his writings with a series of vivid paintings and drawings that helped capture the chaotic nature of the experience.

After his release, Kesey had hoped to publish the journal, but found that the available printing technology couldn't do his illustrations justice. By the mid 1990s, he had revived the project, and was in the final stages of preparing it for publication at the time of his death in 2001. So, if you are a lover of Kesey's works, get this volume, read it, celebrate it, and hold it close. This is a stream-of-consciousness, often profane, nakedly honest record of a pivotal summer in one of the great creative lives of the 20th century.--William C. Hall
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas G. Roehl on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The main question examined in this boisterous, original work of art is when you should "hold your mud." Ken Kesey - Hippie Number One - spent the summer of love incarcerated for a drug conviction. He was America's most promising young novelist when he announced that he was taking an indefinite break from writing novels. His first creative work after this was an unfinished marathon film of a bus ride to Furthur. What he produced next was an amalgam: a personal collage that grabs the reader's eyes and heart on every page.

If Kesey's Jail Journal had been published in its entirety when it was finished, (instead of decades later with some pages lost to prison guards) it probably would have been a sensation. At least it would have gotten a wide audience to see how a blend of images and words could be more immediately affecting and powerful than straight prose. Most pages of printed text are accompanied by that text incorporated into a collage drawing he made in jail. These pages appear like displays of Japanese Calligraphy at the Met. The words are given extra meaning by how they are presented visually.

His illustrations are disarming and masterful. The accompanying text tells easily understood stories in simple, poetic prose. These are seemingly small snippets of life, but Kesey uses them to demonstrate the power structures, personal motivations, and racial tensions underlying every interaction. Kesey wants to create, be free and play - but he must hold his mud enough to keep from losing all of his privileges; along with the book that he is making - which begins to have an importance of its own.

Every page of this book is an ode to the artistic spirit.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jon M. Lepine on June 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently saw the original Jail Journal on display in Eugene, Oregon at an art museum. It was filled with excellent illustrations (very 60s, of course) and some wonderful diary entries by Kesey (who really has a way with words). I had a great time reading the pages, which were arranged on the walls in order, and am going to be pruchasing this book so I can have a version at home to look at in the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Neil The Unreel on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ken Kesey was quoted after handing out free acid at a concert, "All I could think of, if I were a cop, is I wouldn't know where to begin." That is characteristic of his life in general - where to begin. A star wrestler in college, a writer who captured a generation's rebellious spirit, head of the merry pranksters and an artist at large. I have been keeping journals for over a decade now and if anyone is interested in what I aspire to, just look at this book. His art work is almost as great as his writing. If you are to buy it, buy it for the art work, because the writing is more Beat - stream or ... steam of consciousness. It has some rather good insights at times and then there are the ramblings that a jail sentence could only produce. The lettering particularly captures the 60's style, but the work is something to enjoy. Done with water colors and colored pencils he achieves some distinction as an artist. If you are an aging hippy and want to keep a journal, this should be your paragon.
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