“Merry Prankster” and Kentucky author Ed McClanahan have died at 89

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ed McClanahan, a Kentucky author, teacher and friend of counterculture icon Ken Kesey, died at his home in Lexington on Saturday, according to his wife. He was 89 years old.

McClanahan lived in Lexington with his wife Hilda, who remembered him as a “great man”.

“Everyone knows how much of an icon he was,” she said on Wednesday. “I miss him.”

McClanahan was born in Brooksville, Bracken County. In 1962 he met Kesey, author of “Flight Over a Cuckoo’s Nest” and Kesey’s group of Merry Pranksters while he was at Stanford University on a scholarship. creative writing, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The exploits of common travelers were recounted in Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”. While with the LSD-fueled jesters, McClanahan was known as “Captain Kentucky” and frequently wore costumes, an experience he recalled in his 1985 memoir, “Famous People I’ve Known” .

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McClanahan’s first book, a coming-of-age novel titled “The Natural Man,” was published in 1983, and McClanahan was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame in 2019. His last two books have been published Last year. His cause of death has not been reported.

“Ed was one of the best writers of my time,” a friend of McClanahan’s Kentucky author Wendell Berry told the newspaper. “He was almost perfect in the way he made his sentences, the way he heard his sentences. He had a really great sense of humor and it depended on his tongue.

McClanahan has also taught writing at several universities, including Stanford University, Oregon State University, University of Kentucky, Northern Kentucky University, and the University of Montana.

Frank X. Walker, director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky, told the Herald-Leader he was saddened to lose “someone who had made so many of us laugh for so long.”

“Ed was a pillar of the writing community of his generation that made Lexington and Kentucky a rightful literary home,” Walker said. “Her mentorship and support to an entire generation of young writers will be missed. “


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