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The Other Side of Haight [Hardcover]

James Fadiman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Jan 2001
Set during the infamous "summer of love" of the 1960s, THE OTHER SIDE OF HAIGHT is the story of how lives converged in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco for three short but explosive months. A motley crew of dreamers join together in a psychedelic world of drugs, sex, and idealism. As housemates Shadow Dancer and Sweeps innocently come of age and explore all that San Francisco has to offer, a government experiment involving LSD spins out of control. The two stories collide with tragic results, impacting each character in profound ways. Fadiman's intimate, enthralling narrative is rich with historical detail and successfully conjures up a tumultuous time in America's past.  

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Celestial Arts (Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890879842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890879849
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful and entertaining 3 Aug 2011
By Bodhi Heeren TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
James Fadiman, one of the leading experts in the field of repsonsible use of psychedelics, apparently always dreamed of being an author. And, hey, the man can really write. This is a enthralling and captivating novel, at no time would you think the author isn't a 'professional'.

Fadiman himself lived quite a double life in this period, respectable Stanford student and at the same time enroled in the circle around Ken Kesey and his merry pranksters. So this brilliant story set in the high days of Haight Ashbury is based on personal experiences and that shows.

A reasonably intriguing plot, some interesting characters that you really get to 'know and love'. Sexual encounters described with tenderness and tantric knowing and - not surprising - some VERY convincing trip scenes obviously based on a broad scope of self exploration. And as a high light the human be-in with Grateful Dead, Leary, Allen Ginsberg, in many ways reminding of Milos Forman's "Hair".

Beautiful book not only for old heads but for everyone (old and young)into a well written flash back to the glory days of hippie-dome
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'HAIGHT' PASSES THE ACID TEST 7 Aug 2003
By Meyrink - Published on Amazon.com
While James Fadiman's appearance in Tom Wolfe's THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST does indeed testify to the fact that Fadiman himself was living at the epicenter of the Sixties counter-cultural maelstrom, such credentials are unnecessary to validate THE OTHER SIDE OF HAIGHT: the novel itself provides sufficent evidence of Fadiman's knowledge and understanding of the scene.
His description of the historic Human Be-In that ushered in 1967 (as well as other historical details), the various counter-cultural and establishment characters he places within the Haight of that year, all have a certain ring of truth it would be difficult to counterfeit.
What is more, neither does Fadiman condescend toward his subject nor romanticize the Haight of '67 and its inhabitants; he simply places the young woman, Shadow Dancer, within that milieu and then allows her to meet others and partake of experiences that one actually would have during that unique place and time.
Surprisingly (considering the various 'Sixties revivals' our popular culture has witnessed in years past), relatively few novels have been written that actually take place within the Sixties counter-culture--even fewer are actually worth reading. THE OTHER SIDE OF HAIGHT is one of them.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Risky Business: Sex, Drugs, the 60's, and the CIA 1 May 2001
By Nada VonTress - Published on Amazon.com
The Other Side of Haight is a risky novel. Mr. Fadiman dares to bring idealism, sex, and drugs together in a way devoid of current trends of detached irony or moralizing. The author saves his cynicism for the CIA and a series of absurd and malicious experiments that would be much funnier if they weren't true. Throughout the novel, the humor, playfulness and charm make you almost forget that you're considering philosophical and spiritual questions. Mr. Fadiman skillfully addresses universal ideas of growing up and awakening to the world around you. While the novel is obviously set in San Francisco in the 1960's, the themes and scenes spoke to my college experience just over a decade ago.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars reading into a mirror?? 20 Feb 2001
By "jobyb" - Published on Amazon.com
Congratulations to James Fadiman. Congratulations on his ability to express so many experiences and perspectives, moods and personalities in one story so tightly put together.
When I first picked up The Other Side of Haight, I wasn't sure what to expect really. I, of course, had heard of the sixties all of my life - the good, the bad, the weird. I was born during the sixties. Being raised in the Deep South, though, most of what I heard was the bad and the weird.
At some time in the nineties, the sixties returned for some people - sort of: a narrow cliche of its former self, maybe. I guess my imagination of the era and its people was some combination of these two: flowered jeans and freaks.
When I opened the book, I found real people with real lives, real thoughts, real aspirations and feelings. I was excited. I read the entire thing straight through. What took me the most were the characters, characters who held up mirrors in which I could remember my own life. Finding books or movies with characters so easy to identify with is a true pleasure. Finding so many in one story is rare. Angelo's slow opening to the world around him and his rethinking of the culture that he learned growing up was my life. Shadow's wide-eyed experiences and acceptances of her world reinvigorated my mornings and brought back experiences and perceptions too easily forgotten. Sweeps' looking back on his life and his switch from PhD student to janitor hit me hard. As a current graduate student who spent many years working in the world Sweeps now lives in, I identified so readily with his look at academics. Though I have no desire to return to that world, his recollections of the excitement that books and learning can offer (excitement that is so often dampened in this endeavor) was absolutely refreshing.
Reading this book was, for me, pure pleasure; a learning and a remembering experience at the same time. I learned about the sixties and its people from a positive, insightful perspective. But it is the remembering that was the most exciting (and impressive part). Finding characters who shared so many of my experiences - though mine were two or three decades, one generation and two-thousand miles removed - was a very nice and reaffirming experience.
This book is an exciting, interesting and insightful look at a remarkable period of American culture. Upon finishing it, I was completely refreshed. I recommend it highly, both as a novel and as a culture history.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book! 20 Feb 2001
By "jfoxcpt" - Published on Amazon.com
Jim Fadiman's superb novel, The Other Side of Haight, totally captured my attention. I could not put the book down! Set in San Francisco in the mid 60s, Fadiman distils the chaos and grace of that time. The details of life, the range of characters, the story itself - all created a sense of reality that I kept entering at deeper and deeper levels. This novel is a great spiritual and psychological transmission, giving us something truthful, precious and tangible from a much maligned era. But Fadiman never preaches. His writing is vivid and full of subtlety. Characters such as Shadow Dancer, Angelo and Sweeps make the story at turns compelling, sexy, laugh-out-loud funny, heart-breaking and ecstatic. My only complaint of the book is that when its all over, Fadiman doesn't tell me where I can find Shadow Dancer. You'll understand if you read The Other Side of Haight. She lives so beautifully in the pages of this book. Review by: John Fox, author, Finding What You Didn't Lose
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific trip! 5 Feb 2001
By L. Allison - Published on Amazon.com
Other Side of Haight is composed of all the elements a sixties novel requires. There are interesting, far out characters, groovy musical references, various trips inside the drug culture, and happening be-ins to enjoy. The main character, Shadow embarks on a journey of self-discovery, and leads the reader through her experiences in San Francisco, mostly involving another character, Angelo, who is also finding himself. Right away, she meets up with the God Squad, a band who takes her under their wing. From there, she arrives in Haight Ashbury, and moves in with fellow hippies Moonflower and Sweeps. After getting a job at one of the Haight's hip stores, she and Angelo intersect. To give away much more would give away the ending of the book, which is something best not revealed.
However, I highly reccomend this novel to anyone, especially those who are interested in the sixties! Shadow is a character that most people can identify with, for she represents the innocence of the early sixties, as well as a product of the later years of that decade. The language in The Other Side of Haight is beautifully expressive, often sounding as if it were taken from lyrics to a Jefferson Airplane or Sweetwater song, and each chapter is authentically titled, complete with a short relative philosophy that sheds light on the upcoming passage. An "Embryonic Journey" all the way!!!
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