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Novelist Ken Kesey Is in Critical Condition After Tumor Removed

November 10, 2001|From Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Novelist Ken Kesey, the LSD-dropping Merry Prankster who wrote the 1960s novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," lay in critical condition Friday after a cancerous tumor was removed from his liver.

Kesey, 66, was operated on two weeks ago at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, said his friend Ken Babbs. He said doctors had removed 40% of Kesey's liver, and there were no signs of cancer elsewhere in his body.

Kesey burst onto the literary scene with "Cuckoo's Nest" in 1962, which he wrote from his experiences working at a veterans hospital. The novel was turned into an Oscar-winning movie.

Among his other novels was "Sometimes a Great Notion," which was also turned into a movie and which starred Paul Newman.

In the 1960s, Kesey bought an old school bus dubbed Furthur.

With Neal Cassady, who was featured in several of Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation novels, at the wheel and LSD-laced Kool-Aid in the cooler, Kesey and a band of friends who called themselves the Merry Pranksters drove across America to the New York World's Fair.

The bus ride was immortalized in Tom Wolfe's 1968 book "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."

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