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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Paperback – August 19, 2008
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Frequently bought together
“Tom Wolfe is a groove and a gas. Everyone should send him money and other fine things. Hats off to Tom Wolfe!” ―Terry Southern
“The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book . . . the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter . . . Vibrating dazzle!” ―The New York Times
“Some consider Mailer our greatest journalist; my candidate is Wolfe.” ―Studs Terkel, Book Week
“A Day-Glo book, illuminating, merry, surreal!” ―The Washington Post
“Electrifying.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“An amazing book . . . A book that definitely gives Wolfe the edge on the nonfiction novel.” ―The Village Voice
“Among journalists, Wolfe is a genuine poet; what makes him so good is his ability to get inside, to not merely describe (although he is a superb reporter), but to get under the skin of a phenomenon and transmit its metabolic rhythm.” ―Newsweek
From the Inside Flap
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.
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An interesting part of world history
I struggled early with Wolfe's prose. He came off as incredibly ranty, and needlessly verbose, in a sometimes distracting way. He used a lot of hyphens, ellipses, and strange punctuation. (ex: "the lime:::::light::::::"). After some time however I realized that this wasn't how he writes all the time, but rather an attempt to fit his writing to the subject at hand. At first I thought this was somewhat obnoxious, but as I went on I grew more used to it. And besides getting used to it, there were flashes of genuine brilliance in there as well. I mean, some situations were described with such accuracy, insight, and understanding that I was really blown away. These particular portions of the book were, I'm sure, heavily influenced by interviewing primary sources, but regardless Wolfe penned it well.
I was appreciative of the fact that throughout the book Wolfe didn't focus solely on the positive and made it clear that there were conflicting interests among even the Pranksters. When in situations like this not everything is happy happy joy joy let's eat acid and mellow out. Interests don't ALWAYS run in the same direction, and when you have someone like Kesey (who is basically a lodestone of the psychedelic variety) running the show there are bound to be rifts and doubts between people. This is a natural thing and I'm glad Wolfe addressed it.
I think the best thing to say about this book is that it made me think. Long and hard, sometimes. I found myself reading passages from it and then gazing into the distance in some deep contemplation about anything and everything. The book would spark a thought in me that would turn into a full fledged reflection, maybe even far beyond the points that the book brought up in the first place. Good writing does that I suppose.
I will say that I didn't like the way the book ended. It was somewhat anti-climactic in that it sort of just fizzled and went out. Though, I guess you could say the same thing of the Merry Pranksters. There is allegory in that, like so much else in that long, strange trip to go Furthur. COSMO!