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Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by…
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Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1966)

by Richard Fariña

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8371316,110 (3.71)20
  1. 00
    His Illegal Self by Peter Carey (PghDragonMan)
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» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
“Other cats seek revenge, come after me in the night, smell the gland in my antic hoof. You killed our brother. Die, infidel.”

Counter-cultural paragon? Certainly. Experimental and drug-infused (one would suspect) prose? Of course. Funny? Yes. Exaggerated Dickensian character names? Check. Outlandish events somehow still cutting too close into reality’s flesh? Well, yeah, otherwise it would’ve gone out of print long ago. Scooped from the same amniotic stew as Pynchon’s best early work, and yet a voice all its own. Singing, in fact. Self-aware and ugly and unafraid to perch its protagonist perilously on the ledge of an old brick building. Gnossos takes advantage of women, abuses hallucinogens, vandalizes private property, shits his pants, goes to Cuba and hangs out with revolutionaries. And yet his wit and insight and undying fidelity to his inner soul absolves him just enough to put him squarely into Purgatory—awaiting judgement while popping mushrooms and making the whole shadowy vault echo with laughter. How could a god not invite him on up the stairs to Paradise?

The title says it all, but you’d have to read the book to get it. Sure, he’s down as in “down and out”. A rover. A vagabond. And yeah, he’s down with what’s cool, dig? Like smoking pot and riding the wake from the mini-disaster he’d created. But, more importantly, he’s down as “dead”; a string of stories of his death in various parts of the globe precedes his arrival at Mentor University. The report of his death was an exaggeration . . . I think Twain would’ve loved this character. Ultimately, however, it’s “up to” him to pull himself from the depths. Man, I get it. Mr. Fariña died too soon. He had heights of greatness yet to scale and dance along the loose-bricked edge.

And Thomas Pynchon’s introduction? Holy Hell, it’s nearly as good as the novel.

“The immortality worm has been chewing.”
“What if it has?”
“Try chewing back.” ( )
  ToddSherman | Aug 5, 2017 |
Captures some of the unique characteristics of a generation like no other novel I know of, AND the dialogue is so rich that it actually makes a person familiar with that era almost wish they could return to it. A must read for anyone who did not live through the sixties and wants an introduction. Also, a very sexy novel. Double Favorite Plus. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Eh. Can't be doing with most of this beat generation stuff. I bought this for the Pynchon introduction, but the novel has none of that author's wit or wisdom.

This one is especially depressing. Main character is detestable, and at times sadistically misogynistic (ref: the scenes where he purposefully pierces the condom before raping a girl), yet at no point are we drawn to see him as any less than a free-spirited kook. At times the novel felt knowingly naive, in a way that flirted with being interesting. But in the end, not very. ( )
2 vote sometimeunderwater | Feb 20, 2015 |
One of my favorite books. The adventure and the romance and silliness of the novel underscore the main character's ridiculous and infectious love of life. Gnossos is an ass and an alcoholic, but he does it with such charm that you can't help rooting for him. ( )
  jscape2000 | Nov 5, 2014 |
Yes, I know: de mortuis nil nisi bonum. But the unfortunate and premature death of this Author doesn't change my opinion that this novel is a hipper-than-thou piece of 1960s' silliness. ( )
  HarryMacDonald | Jan 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fariña, RichardAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pynchon, ThomasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This one is for MIMI
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To Athené then.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140189300, Paperback)

This is the ultimate novel of college life during the first hallucinatory flowering of what has famously come to be known as The Sixties. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me follows haunted ur-hippy Gnossos Pappadopoulis upon return to his old university town that's just tilting into a new era, and Gnossos' involvement in a swirl of sixties-style drug taking and the search for love and the meaning of it all. It is a hilarious and haunting book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The surrealistic adventures of the young anti-hero reflect the author's irreverent view of life, using a 1950s college campus as a microcosm of the world

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