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The Psychedelic Symphony: An Historical Novel 1968

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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About the Author

Somewhere in the Northlands of Kansas City does James Marinovich live and breathe, in the near vicinity of family, pets and other assorted entities. He would like one day to publish On Strawberry Hill, a collection of Croatian-American fantasies. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: 1st Book Library (November 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403384525
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403384522
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,542,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Painful experience has taught that purchasing a book because of the title alone is perhaps not the wisest thing to do--however, being a long-time Sixties psychedelist, I could not resist, and did just that. Thank Syd I did, because PSYCHEDELIC SYMPHONY is quite a sublime little novella.
Not only does the story reflect a meticulous recreation of the summer of 1968, but Marinovich's poetic prose casts a spell that, while reading, one does not wish to end. His style is musical (this is a "prose symphony," after all). The cultural references obviously arise from that of a psychedelic connoisseur--no hackneyed cliches like "White Rabbit" or "Purple Haze" here (the characters--who include an underground rock band and various adolescent would-be freaks--actually listen to stuff like Small Faces [when's the last time you read a story that referenced Ogden's Nut-Gone Flake?], Captain Beefheart, Incredible String Band and Caravan [by the way--I strongly suspect that the liner notes to Caravan's first album actually inspired the acid rock band storyline!]), and the descriptions of acid and mushroom trips suggest a mind that has been there and back.
My only criticism, and this is really not a negative, is that Marinovich's style reflects a more British rather than American sensibility--that is, the living habits of the counter-cultural characters he has created would perhaps have been more at home in England rather than the U.S.
For those who were there and those who would like to be, this little book makes the perfect read for a summer's lazy Sunday afternoon.
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Format: Paperback
To some, the 1960s were merely a time of self-indulgent narcissism and political disarray, for others the era has left an enduring legacy including changed social attitudes, great music, and a renewed belief in the power of individuals and committed communities. James Marinovich falls clearly into the latter category.

The Psychedelic Symphony, written a little over ten years ago, is a brief, poetic, lyrical tale which owes its content to a reminiscence of the 1960s and its form to the innovative model provided by Russian writer Andrei Biely in his short novel The Dramatic Symphony of 1901.

Like Biely, Marinovich wanted to use music as an organizing principle to write about a particular moment in history - for Biely the fraught time that would lead up to Russia's first revolution, for Marinovich the charmed, fleeting mood of the summer of 1968.

Throughout many short chapters whose loose intensity resembles the prose of Rilke or the sixties literary hero Richard Brautigan, this is what Marinovich does. Over the course of the book's gently moving, playful pages we trace in alternating, interwoven episodes the life and times of some ten major and ten minor characters as they navigate either the new world of the late 1960s, or the old one of American materialism and hardened cultural views in which they were, in Marinovich's eyes, still unfortunately mired. Over all of this hovers the haunting symphonic chord of the book's title, which unites them all.

Marinovich's novel, with its warm, youthful, community centered, you-are-there tone constitutes to my mind a new classic of the era.
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