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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
by Tom Wolfe
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You're either on the bus or you're off the bus. ( )
I still constantly remind myself that art is not eternal.
Kind of mixed feelings on this one. I think Tom Wolfe does as good a job as he can of describing the long, strange trip of the Pranksters, but I also think that this works against him - there were only so many attempts to describe an LSD experience I could take before I grew frustrated and wished Wolfe would just relate things in a more straightforward way.
What a trip!
This was a bizarre book and a fun read. It's the story of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and his band of Merry Pranksters.
I got into the writing styles fairly quickly - and there are quite a few different styles in the book. At the start of each chapter I'd think - And what are the Pranksters up to now? At one point, I rented the Magic Trip documentary done in 2011 so I could put faces with names and that was very interesting. I didn't quite grok what exactly the Acid Test was for, but that's okay, I just wasn't into the pudding.
I learned quite a bit about the 60's that I didn't know or only had a vague idea about. I may not be on the bus but I did enjoy the ride.
This is the only thing by Tom Wolfe that I have read so far, but I will read more. I could actually read this book twice.
Surprising that I never read this back in the day. About 50 pages in, I had the same experience as watching Easy Rider after so many years - about 8-10 years ago. I remember getting set up in my living room with a nice glass of wine and thinking "ah, this is gonna be a great stroll down memory lane..." and then, it was mostly Dennis Hopper uttering repeated "wow, man" phrases about almost everything, implying the he was more in the know than others. Like that, with this book.
Perhaps we have "evolved" or experienced enough trauma that this level of navel-gazing seems irrelevant. Felt that way to me, so on to the next thing. I'll get my historical fix from music, directly, especially about this time period.
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Wikipedia in English (4)
One of the most essential works on the 1960s counterculture, Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Test is the seminal work on the hippie culture, a report on what it was like to follow along with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they launched out on the "Transcontinental Bus Tour" from the West Coast to New York, all the while introducing acid (then legal) to hundreds of like-minded folks, staging impromptu jam sessions, dodging the Feds, and meeting some of the most revolutionary figures of the day.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)306 — Social sciences Social Sciences Culture and Institutions
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