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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Paperback – 17 Feb 1989
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They say if you remember the '60s, you weren't there. But, fortunately, Tom Wolfe was there, notebook in hand, politely declining LSD while Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters fomented revolution, turning America on to a dangerously playful way of thinking as their Day-Glo conveyance, Further, made the most influential bus ride since Rosa Parks's. By taking On the Road's hero Neal Cassady as his driver on the cross-country revival tour and drawing on his own training as a magician, Kesey made Further into a bully pulpit, and linked the beat epoch with hippiedom. Paul McCartney's Many Years from Now cites Kesey as a key influence on his trippy Magical Mystery Tour film. Kesey temporarily renounced his literary magic for the cause of "tootling the multitudes"--making a spectacle of himself--and Prankster Robert Stone had to flee Kesey's wild party to get his life's work done. But in those years, Kesey's life was his work, and Wolfe infinitely multiplied the multitudes who got tootled by writing this major literary-journalistic monument to a resonant pop-culture moment.
Kesey's theatrical metamorphosis from the distinguished author of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest to the abominable shaman of the "Acid Test" soirees that launched The Grateful Dead required Wolfe's Day-Glo prose account to endure (though Kesey's own musings in Demon Box are no slouch either). Even now, Wolfe's book gives what Wolfe clearly got from Kesey: a contact high. --Tim Appelo, Amazon.com
"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" (New York Times)
"A life-changer, a rabble-rouser, a mind-blower, a gathering of the tribes, a call to arms, a manifesto for a new society, a car repair manual, a fly-on-the-paisley-patterned-wall account of a cultural revolution – a masterpiece!" (Jarvis Cocker)
"Electrifying" (San Francisco Chronicle)
"An amazing book... A book that definitely gives Wolfe the edge on the nonfiction novel" (The Village Voice)
"Every word seems placed with a care and a skill of contrivance... A major journalistic contribution to the future analysis of our own and America's strange period of this century" (Guardian)
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A psychedelic splurge of a book, covering the acid-soaked start of the California Counterculture, of a type that the Summer of Love represented an end of, not a beginning. As the half-century approaches, read it and enjoy as the past turns into history - and no, they're not the same thing.
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