Home / Arts / Books / It’s All a Kind of Magic: The Young Ken Kesey (University of Wisconsin Press), by Rick Dodgson
Monday, April 14, 2014

It’s All a Kind of Magic: The Young Ken Kesey (University of Wisconsin Press), by Rick Dodgson

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Ken Kesey was the topic of British grad student Rick Dodgson’s dissertation, and the star-struck young man was granted access to the culture hero’s papers, interviews with the sometimes-distracted author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and varying levels of cooperation with his associates. Now a history professor at Wisconsin’s Lakeland College, Dodgson’s dissertation has finally been published as It’s All a Kind of Magic. The title comes from Kesey’s love of magic tricks and their “important role in his development as a performer and a storyteller” by focusing audience attention on where the trickster wants it to be. The picture that emerges is otherwise pretty much what devotees of the Merry Prankster already knew. Kesey was a conservative rebel, a family man with an urge to go on the road, a teetotaler who became a public proponent of LSD in the ‘60s.