Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Paradise Fever: Growing Up in the Shadow of the New Age Paperback – November 1, 1998


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$39.89 $0.01
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Bard (November 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380790629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380790623
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An obsession with states of grace--lost and regained--does not assure a person of finding grace, or happiness. What was it like to grow up as a son of the very avatar of the New Age? Ptolemy Tompkins's father, Peter, author of cult bestseller, The Secret Life of Plants, believed fervently that the fulfillment of lost and magical conditions were within one's grasp.

In the first chapter of Paradise Fever, 13-year-old Ptolemy ponders life from the bottom of the family's swimming pool. His father has equipped him with scuba tank and regulator that may be of use on their upcoming expedition to the Caribbean to locate the lost continent of Atlantis. A naked woman appears above him. That would be Cheryl, a "changeling," one of many seekers of his father's wisdom.

"In resolving to live a fuller, more realized life than he had before," Ptolemy writes, "my father was acting in the service of the spirit of the time--and the spirit of that particular time was very much a communal one. From about 1972 onwards, the Barn (one of Peter's laboratories) became a way station for an extraordinary array of self-styled seekers, finders, and aspiring awakeners of the slumbering modern world. Yeti hunters, psychics, free-form visionaries, and reincarnated Atlantean alchemists--one after another they showed up at our door ... "You might think that, to a child, this would be paradise. But as Ptolemy looks back, a single, disruptive event defines his childhood. One night, Peter brings socialite Betty Vreeland home to dinner, announcing that she will become part of the family unit.

This is a fantastic and informative tour of the occult, the movements it sprang from and in turn inspired, and the shadows that darken paradise. Ptolemy Tompkins's memoir inevitably includes the carving of his father's grandiose dreams down to size. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Lone child Tompkins portrays himself as a dim reflection of his famous, brilliant, charismatic, but difficult father, 1970s guru and cult author Peter Tompkins, whose unique means of self-expression included building numerous gratuitous stairways in their spacious New England "barn" home. Tompkins is surrounded by all the trappings and some of the perils of the Seventies: open marriage, nudity, parapsychology, substance abuse, and the like. Many of his experiences were positive, e.g., he had a close and healthy alliance with his mother, and he was exposed to fascinating ideas and activities, such as scuba diving in Bimini during his father's search for Atlantis. Still, his inevitable confusion ultimately led to alcohol and heroin abuse. Tompkins is now an actor and editor in his own right (e.g., This Tree Grows Out of Hell: Mesoamerica and the Search for the Magical Body, HarperCollins, 1990). Reading like a good novel, his book is evocative of the personalities as well as of the era. Highly recommended.?Janice E. Braun, Mills Coll., Oakland, Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ptolemy Tompkins is the author of Paradise Fever (a memoir focusing on the years in the mid-seventies when his father, Secret Life of Plants author Peter Tompkins, became obsessed with finding the lost continent of Atlantis in the waters off Florida), The Beaten Path (an examination of the good and not-so-good things that happen when one takes the teachings of popular modern wisdom authors like Alan Watts and Carlos Castaneda too seriously) and This Tree Grows Out of Hell (a spiritual history of the Maya and Aztec cultures focusing on their disturbing preoccupation with bloodshed). For just under ten years he was an in-house editor at Guideposts and Angels On Earth magazines. His work there led him to writing The Divine Life of Animals and The Modern Book of the Dead, a duo of books arguing for the continuing validity of the human belief in postmortem survival. The Modern Book of the Dead in turn led him to Dr. Eben Alexander, with whom he worked very closely -- if largely invisibly -- to produce Dr. Alexander's bestselling Proof of Heaven.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By swsp on March 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
By turns hilarious and haunting, this memoir about growing up on the furtherest fringes of the New Age achieves a crazy kind of balance--a tilt-a-whirl balance. It's not a simply an expose of New Age self-absorption and infantilism (though it certainly is that). It's written by someone trying to make sense of his own wacky childhood experience, and trying to capture what was wonderful and not-so-wonderful about his fantastical father. What comes through is the author's basic sanity. The elder Tompkins is completely at home in the subterranean, labyrinthine byways of the occult. The author isn't--for all his drug and alcohol abuse, his feet are planted in this world. What struck me was how his feelings and attitudes and speculations about his father seemed so universal. Improbably, I saw my own, completely average, un-New Age dad in the elder Tompkins. The author gets at the essential mysteriousness of our fathers.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
My husband and I rarely like the same books, but we both loved this one--the most amazing story of a childhood like no other. Reading this book is a bit like watching a car wreck; you can't turn away. (That's a compliment, if you can't tell.)
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I hadn't heard about this book, but I saw it on a table at the store and liked the weird cover. Now I see by the reviews that other people know how sensational it is. No, sensational is the wrong word. It's an unsensational -- but sensationally funny -- book about a sensational time. It's a book for anyone who has thought, "Wouldn't it have been great to grow up on a commune among really progresive people?" Well, I still wish I had, but now I see how those good, utopian ideals can get all mixed up with self-interest and create something really screwy -- in this case the guy who wrote this book! I can't think of another book that's so affectionate, satirical, and bitter at the same time. Actually, the bitterness swamps the last section, where the guy is all messed up on alcohol and heroin. I'm not sure if I think this part is as successful -- it kind of takes the air out of the proceedings. That said, I think he WANTED to take the air out of the book, to rub your face in all the ugly consequences of "the New Age." I love this book in the way some people said they loved The Ice Storm; it's better than The Ice Storm.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Hysterically funny yet seriously disturbing. It all seemed cosmically profound and great fun at the time, but those of us enmeshed in the zeitgeist of the 70s can look back now through Ptolemy's eyes and see our sins and selfishness clearly. Fortunately, Ptolemy seems to have recovered from the damage we inflicted on his generation. He has a sublime sense of humor and an attitude of gratitude. The generations before Ptolemy's have made amends and in some cases, they have been accepted.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure what sort of book I was looking to read. I entered my interests into BookMatcher--I love Science Fiction and Fantasy, I'm a sucker for Popular Fiction, and anything about Atlantis or inscrutable, patriarchal figures and shark fishing and I'm over the moon. A few seconds waiting while BookMatcher did its thing and BAM, out it types Paradise Fever. Boy, did BookMatcher steer me right. This is a fantastic memoir about growing up in the dark, dank, fetid soul of the New Age. A fantastic read for anyone who has ever gagged on the pungent whiff of pathouli in a crowded natural bakery or suffered through an involunatary chakra reading at a red-meat free dinner party. Tompkins, in retelling the story of his boyhood, captures the inanity and dissolution that passed for culture during the dawn of the New Age. The best memoir of the year, no question.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Valois on December 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoy and admire Ptolemy Tompkins' writings on Beliefnet (The Winged Life) so I sought additional work by him and this book came up in my searches. What a colorful, loony and challenging childhood he had! It makes a very entertaining story--especially when told by such a fine writer. I can't help but feel compassion for him and his mixed-up family (his parents also had difficult childhoods). I highly recommend this book--and all of Ptolemy's writing. Next I plan to read his latest book, "The Divine Life of Animals."
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again