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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

by Tom Wolfe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,597441,043 (3.83)95
  1. 30
    The Haight-Ashbury: A History by Charles Perry (jseger9000)
  2. 10
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (mcenroeucsb)
  3. 10
    Budding Prospects by T.C. Boyle (mcenroeucsb)
  4. 00
    I Think, Therefore Who Am I? by Peter Weissman (orlando85)
    orlando85: This book goes inside the LSD drug world, by someone who actually experienced it. It goes well with Wolfe, who talks about that world as a journalist.
  5. 00
    Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps by Emmett Grogan (agmlll)
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» See also 95 mentions

English (42)  French (2)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I'm glad I read it just to get a better idea of the whole "acid scene" and the people who were in the thick of it. But I would never read it again. I thought that most of the people were fairly pathetic. What a total waste of energy, imagination and brain cells. Mostly spoiled middle and upper class fools who filled their lives with drugs instead of actual accomplishments. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 15, 2014 |
Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" is much more Hunter Thompson than Irvine Welch. Which was not a good thing to me, but I can see how this book would be great for someone else.

This book is considered an essential work about the hippie lifestyle. Wolfe, a journalist, tells the story of Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters as they experiment with LSD. The book's style is supposed to feel trippy to reflect what's going on, but I found that more irritating than effective, unfortunately.

Unlike Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff," which was awesome and had incredible insights into the world of astronauts and pilots, this book seemed more surface to me. Wolfe is never part of the counterculture and never really gets to the heart of why the Merry Pranksters followed Kesey who is depicted as a Christ-like figure. After reading the book, I really didn't feel any more enlightened about the hippie movement. ( )
  amerynth | Oct 1, 2014 |
Okay so i felt the need to read this because it takes place in the area i live, that is San Francisco and Palo Alto. Its fun to read a book (especially a non-fiction book) that references people and places in one's own community, and its actually a bit of a rare thing. But even besides the setting, this book was very an interesting good read.

So its about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and LSD and haight-ashbury. and the rise and fall of a scene and a man. i'm not a fan of psychedelic drugs or the scene surrounding it (especially acid rock, urg) but i still enjoyed the book. sometimes the style of writing was a bit much, but the style had a purpose and i can accept that much. ( )
  allisonneke | Dec 17, 2013 |
The first Thomas Wolfe novel I read was A Man in Full and I enjoyed it immensely. I’ve followed up with each subsequent novel he has published (I Am Charlotte Simmons and Back to Blood) and The Right Stuff is simply one my favorite books of all time. To date, I’ve never been disappointed by one of Wolfe’s efforts. It occurred to me that there were several highly regarded Wolfe novels that pre-dated my discovery of his work, so I ordered this novel, along with The Bonfire of the Vanities.

This quasi-biographical work highlights the life of Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters as they toured the country in their Day-Glo painted, modified school bus, dropping acid and other hallucinogens, documenting it all on camera. Wolfe then explores the goings on at Kesey’s forested retreat near Palo Alto as various disciples and assorted Hell’s Angels drop in and out to partake of Kesey’s special brand of mysticism and evangelical fervor for pharmaceutical experimentation. Kesey subsequently flees the country, faking a suicide in order to evade prosecution for multiple marijuana possession arrests. In his absence, the Merry Pranksters struggle along before reuniting with Kesey’s return to the states.

Much of the book is amusing, however the writing is such that you either have to have dropped acid, or be on an acid trip to appreciate the prose and sometimes silly word play. Much of the book is written as stream of consciousness, while other parts are some form of poetry that I simply can’t appreciate. It is, nevertheless, an interesting look at the early 60s and the screwballs that populated the San Francisco area during that period. This book is nothing like the other Wolfe novels that I’ve read and I can’t recommend it unless you perhaps lived through the period and partook of some of the same “medicine” enjoyed by the Pranksters. ( )
  santhony | Sep 23, 2013 |
I wish Tom Wolfe still wrote essays. I like him better when he's not 700 pages. ( )
  AnnB2013 | Mar 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Wolfeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koning, BertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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That's good thinking there, Cool Breeze. Cool Breeze is a kid with three or four days' beard sitting next to me on the stamped metal bottom of the open back part of a pickup truck. Bouncing along. Dipping and rising and rolling on these rotten springs like a boat.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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V.g in d/w with slight edge wear and one closed tear.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553380648, Paperback)

They say if you remember the '60s, you weren't there. But, fortunately, Tom Wolfe was there, notebook in hand, politely declining LSD while Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters fomented revolution, turning America on to a dangerously playful way of thinking as their Day-Glo conveyance, Further, made the most influential bus ride since Rosa Parks's. By taking On the Road's hero Neal Cassady as his driver on the cross-country revival tour and drawing on his own training as a magician, Kesey made Further into a bully pulpit, and linked the beat epoch with hippiedom. Paul McCartney's Many Years from Now cites Kesey as a key influence on his trippy Magical Mystery Tour film. Kesey temporarily renounced his literary magic for the cause of "tootling the multitudes"--making a spectacle of himself--and Prankster Robert Stone had to flee Kesey's wild party to get his life's work done. But in those years, Kesey's life was his work, and Wolfe infinitely multiplied the multitudes who got tootled by writing this major literary-journalistic monument to a resonant pop-culture moment.

Kesey's theatrical metamorphosis from the distinguished author of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest to the abominable shaman of the "Acid Test" soirees that launched The Grateful Dead required Wolfe's Day-Glo prose account to endure (though Kesey's own musings in Demon Box are no slouch either). Even now, Wolfe's book gives what Wolfe clearly got from Kesey: a contact high. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:17 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Tom Wolfe's much-discussed kaleidoscopic non-fiction novel chronicles the tale of novelist Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. In the 1960s, Kesey led a group of psychedelic sympathizers around the country in a painted bus, presiding over LSD-induced "acid tests" all along the way. Long considered one of the greatest books about the history of the hippies, Wolfe's ability to research like a reporter and simultaneously evoke the hallucinogenic indulgence of the era ensures that this book, written in 1967, will live long in the counter-culture canon of American literature.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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