This is a pho­to of author Ken Kesey that Dawn Stief took when we inter­viewed him in Billings, Mon­tana in 1993. Now, it’s a cov­er of a new book edit­ed by Scott F. Park­er. Pub­lished here: My final, long-form con­ver­sa­tion with Kesey on his farm. Dur­ing that vis­it, the orig­i­nal Mer­ry Prankster and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest told me he was “too young to be a beat­nik and too old to be a hip­pie.”

Book descrip­tion:
Ken Kesey (1935–2001) is the author of sev­er­al works of well-known fic­tion and oth­er hard-to-clas­si­fy mate­ri­al. His debut nov­el, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was a crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial sen­sa­tion that was fol­lowed soon after by his most sub­stan­tial and ambi­tious book, Some­times a Great Notion. His oth­er books, includ­ing Demon Box, Sailor Song, and two children’s books, appeared amid­st a life of astound­ing influ­ence. He is may­be best known for his role as the charis­mat­ic and pro­to-hip­pie lead­er of the West Coast LSD move­ment that sparked “The Six­ties,” as icon­i­cal­ly recount­ed in Tom Wolfe’s The Elec­tric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

In the intro­duc­tion to “An Impo­lite Inter­view with Ken Kesey,” Paul Krass­ner writes, “For a man who says he doesn’t like to do inter­views, Kesey cer­tain­ly does a lot of them.” What’s most sur­pris­ing about this state­ment is not the incon­gruity between dis­lik­ing and doing inter­views but the idea that Kesey could pos­si­bly have been less than enthu­si­as­tic about being the cen­ter of atten­tion. After his two great tri­umphs, writ­ing played a lesser role in Kesey’s life, but in thought­ful inter­views he some­times regrets the books that were sac­ri­ficed for the sake of his oth­er pur­suits. Inter­views trace his arc through suc­cess, fame, pris­on, farm­ing, and tragedy―the death of his son in a car acci­dent pro­found­ly altered his life. The­se con­ver­sa­tions make clear Kesey’s cen­tral place in Amer­i­can cul­ture and offer his endur­ing lesson that the free­dom exists to cre­ate lives as wild­ly as can be imag­ined.

Any­one won­der­ing what the 1960s were all about can come close to under­stand­ing the answer by read­ing Con­ver­sa­tions with Ken Kesey.”
—Lee Quarn­strom, Kesey friend and Mer­ry Prankster