One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest doesn’t require much of an introduction. For those of you who may have only seen the 1975 film or pretended to read it in high school or college or, hell, even seen a parody or homage in other media (an episode of The Simpsons comes to mind), the novel is one that never seems to go out of fashion. Why? Because it deals with human behavior and emotional states on their most primitive, primal levels.
The main characters are R.P. McMurphy, a rapscallion with qualities equally shining and cruddy; “Chief” Bromden, a towering, seemingly speechless, compliant half-Native American; and Nurse Ratchet, a power-driven, manipulative matriarch of the insane asylum. In the book, a stranger (McMurphy) comes to town asylum, piques the interest of its inhabitants (“Chief,” the orderlies, doctors, nurses, and the other patients), and for the first time challenges the norms and conformities of the Nurse Ratchet’s establishment.
Written by the sage Ken Kesey, this novel quickly garnered acclaim and respect, reaching “classic” status almost instantaneously. It has everything a great book should have, and therefore, it is without debate that it is deserving of high production values when adapted as an audiobook. And this audiobook is skillfully—dare I say masterfully—narrated and performed by actor John C. Reilly.
Truth be told, I listened to this audiobook straight through without stopping on a rainy Saturday from first cup of coffee to well-past dinner. Non-stop. No joke. I never turned it off or paused it.
The audiobook is flawless – there’s nary a moment your mind wanders to Reilly’s performance in Boogie Nights or Step Brothers. Reilly embodies every character’s voice and personality by keying into their emotional state and motivations through his change in inflection, tone, and lowering or raising his voice when the narrative calls for it. His dictation is fluid and never a distraction and only heightens the text.
This audiobook is a performance of the highest caliber and frankly it’s as timeless as the book itself. This is the type of audiobook you use to pop an audiobook skeptic’s cherry… or your own.