Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Are You On the Bus?

So I'm halfway through The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, his new-journalism chronicle of writer Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and the Merry Pranksters. It's very engrossing. Here we have the birth of the LSD movement through refugees of the Beat movement, including Neal Cassidy (Dean Moriarty of On the Road) and with appearances by Kerouac, Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Hunter S. Thompson, The Hell's Angels and The Grateful Dead.

An important point is that this doesn't seem to be a celebration of the movement. In fact, the book starts with Kesey's plans to finally move beyond LSD before going into the backstory of how it all happened, a smart move by Wolfe. Wolfe's writing in general is very subjective and literary, the hallmarks of the new-journalism also pioneered by Thompson, and it's remarkable that Wolfe apparently never took acid because it feels as though he is writing with a very personal awareness of that vantage point. I guess that's where high intellect and meticulous investigation come into play. Anyway, it's exactly what I needed to read right now, and it'll be interesting to read Wolfe's conclusions.

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