For the last few days, I've been reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's an amazing book, and I’m embarrassed that I hadn't read it before, especially now that I'm (like Mr. Kesey) an Oregonian. Of course, I've seen the film, which is a classic— I think I first saw it in a high school film class, where I watched intently, trying to pay attention to every detail. I've seen it once or twice since then, as well, so it's pretty well burned into my brain. Turns out, I remember it even better than I realized.
Maybe this is common, maybe it's nothing revolutionary or even surprising, but it's very strange to me to read a book and have Jack Nicholson cavorting around in my head, and to have my understanding of the ward's layout already fixed, even before I've finished the first (short) chapter. It's kind of neat, sure, but even more than that, it's distracting. It's harder to pay attention to the language, and I don't feel like my understanding of the book is evolving in the same way it does with a story I've never heard before.
I don't watch a lot of movies, and I do read a lot of books, so it's possible that this is truly the first time I've encountered the movie before the book. I can't think of another pair that I've experienced in this order, and this is certainly the first time I've had the two intertwine in this way, which makes me wonder. Does this happen to people all the time?