Born: Sept 17, 1935
As a cultural and literary figure, Ken Kesey stands exactly at the midpoint between the Beats of the 50's and the Hippies of the 60's. Kesey borrowed from Jack Kerouac quite consciously -- in fact, he went on the road with Neal Cassady, and if that's not borrowing from Kerouac I don't know what is. But there were several differences to Kesey's 60's version of the Great Trip Across America:
Kesey did not write about this scene, but journalist Tom Wolfe did in 'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test'. Kesey did write two important novels, the powerful 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' in which a modern psychiatric ward becomes a metaphor for oppressive American society, and 'Sometimes A Great Notion.' Interestingly, these books are not the least bit trippy, though their intentions are without a doubt cosmic.
He later published 'The Further Inquiry,' a screenplay with many photos from the bus trip and a mostly incomprehensible plot in which Kesey, Cassady and others must testify at some sort of supernatural trial. Kesey also recently published 'Sailor Song,' a wacky allegory involving environmental crises, a Kesey-like middle-aged writer, and a rock band called the Dreadful Great.
Ken Kesey books, memorabilia and other interesting doo-dads are available from his own Key-Z Productions.
Todd Brendan Fahey has some interesting things to say about Kesey and the government's role in Kesey's acid test scene in his book Wisdom's Maw.