5.0 out of 5 stars a journey through the mad acid experience
If you weren't part of the Acid Generation, this book can take you into the psychedelic past- Tom Wolfe brillantly tells the story of the merry pranksters led by the madly chrismatic Ken Kesey- Pot, DDT, LSD, Speed, among other drugs are all part of the insanely energetic life of the Pranksters- However, Wolfe doesn't just tell, he reaches out grabs you and pulls you into...
Published on Oct. 26 2000 by thedude
3.0 out of 5 stars Should be read, despite writing style
This should be read along with Hunter Thompson's 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Many colorful characters are found in this book. Often I've been curious about what made the 60's "the 60's" and this book shines a light on a the roots of the American psychedelic movement. In terms of American literature, this book picks up where Kerouac's On The Road left off (Neal...
Published on Jan. 2 2004 by A reader
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tour Guide to the 60's,
Although I bought this book when it was first out in paperback, I didn't actually get around to reading it until 1993. I wondered at the time if I would have appreciated it more as a teenager or as someone in his 40's. I'm of the opinion that it works better as a retrospective on an indulgent generation rather than a "how to" book for on-going hedonism. I'm sure that there are other opinions on this, however. I must admit that it is really an enjoyable book and one wonders about the extent of detachment or involvement of Tom Wolfe. He obviously spent a great deal of time with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and hung with them long enough to see a beginning as well as an end. I think that the ability of the book to bring things to a conclusion was helpful. Nonetheless, the journey Wolfe takes us through is fast paced and exciting and we meet many familiar names along the way. Perhaps the most surprizing familiar name for me was Larry McMurtry whom I did not associate as one who might have followed that crowd. It was certainly a time of awakening although often in ways that may have been better to sleep off. There is an electricity to the book (as there was to the era) and Wolfe certainly helps keep it charged up. For those who don't know much about the 60's, this book is essential to understanding those times. To those who lived it, this book is a reminder of how much fun it was as well as how lucky most of us were to survive it. Things are different now. As evidence of that, consider our recent president who "smoked but never inhaled". Tom Wolfe wrote something that many of can now read with a red-faced smile. Who knew anyone was taking notes at the time?
5.0 out of 5 stars a journey through the mad acid experience,
If you weren't part of the Acid Generation, this book can take you into the psychedelic past- Tom Wolfe brillantly tells the story of the merry pranksters led by the madly chrismatic Ken Kesey- Pot, DDT, LSD, Speed, among other drugs are all part of the insanely energetic life of the Pranksters- However, Wolfe doesn't just tell, he reaches out grabs you and pulls you into the experience- You become "on the bus" and you feel the frightening realities of the surreal trip which is LSD and the way of life surrounding it- This book will open new realms of your mentality- I have yet to read more of Wolfe's pieces, but i can tell you this book is fantastic- My words of advice are READ IT!
5.0 out of 5 stars All--American pie,
This book is about the American born, hippie movement. The journalist Tom Wolfe infiltrates the Merry Prankster's before their Acid Graduation and tells the whole story. I liked this book because of the wild details of the tripped out life of acid heads. Wolfe takes us for a ride with the Pranksters, through their beginnings as intellectuals in Stanford, to the low days of living as outlaws in Mexico. In the end Ken Kesey, the leader of the Merry Pranksters, talks about another way other than LSD, DMT, Peptide, and Marijuana making the reader feel reassured. This is a great read and historical reference, so if you're looking for some info on the 60's or just need a laugh I would recommend, THE ELECTRIC ACID KOOL AID TEST along with the hilarious book KATZENJAMMER by McCrae.
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing and unique portrait of an era,
I love this book, it is an amazing story and an amazing picture of the time and people it depicts. Reading it creates a great idea of the culture and era of the 1960's hippies, it is filled with characters including the Grateful Dead, Hell's Angels, Beatniks, Timothy Leary, the Beatles, and the central characters... Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.
Ken Kesey (authour of the excellent book "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") put together a group of adventurous people who took an infamous road trip through America, in a psychedelically painted bus and lots and lots and lots of LSD. They filmed the entire trip (which then influenced the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" film), and met a lot of amazing people along the way.
The book "Acid Dreams: the CIA, LSD and the Sixties" (also excellent) has a section on Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, which really nicely sums up what is so appealing about these self-proclaimed freaks. While lots of stuffy academics led by Timothy Leary were taking acid and walking around with clipboards, taking notes about their psychological states and writing relatively technical manuals on how to reach enlightenment... Kesey and his group gave a new dimension to acid tripping. They were "regular" people (i.e.- not stuffy academics) who had a lot of fun and approached acid and life without rules, regulations, or expectations and they took acid on the street rather than in clinical settings with clipboards. On the way they had a lot of fun, and Tom Wolfe does an amazing job spinning it into this book. Reading it gives an excellent look into who did what when and where, so it gives a great introduction to the many characters that lived in this period, but the book would be even more fun for people already familiar with the characters in the book. The great charm of this story is that it depicts real people, many of them underground anti-heroes, but the story reads like an excellent novel. Amazing!
5.0 out of 5 stars Drug Culture Simplified,
By A Customer
Tom Wolfe did an incredible job with this book. The book is interesting because of its' content and also Wolfe's style of writing. Not many subjects can be written about in this fashion: almost broken and incoherent, but completely attatched and perfectly sensible. The books chronicles the lives of Ken Kesey's group of Merry Pranksters with day-to-day happenings and character insights. It tells of where the Grateful Dead got their start, and also catches the great beat generation writer, Jack Kerouac, in his later days. Alan Ginsberg, arguably one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century also appears from time to time throughout the book. This book is a must-read for any aficionado of modern day literature. Read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test! Another Amazon quick-pick I liked: The Losers Club by Richard Perez
5.0 out of 5 stars Liked it very much,
By A Customer
While not an enormous fan of Tom Wolfe's writing style, I like this book nevertheless. After a few chapter I really got into it, and because of the quirkiness of the situation and characters, I found myslef unable to put it down. It's not your average book. If you like books like "Gravity's Rainbow," "Water Music" by Boyle, or "Bark of the Dogwood," you'll proably get into this work.
5.0 out of 5 stars Acid Testies,
By A Customer
I have just finished reading the electric kool aid acid test by Tom Wolfe for my college literature class. I enjoyed reading about the epic adventure that Key Kesey, the main character who is suble and alegorical in his methode of comunication amongst the other characters. Unlike most modern central characters he is not a mook begging attention but quite the oppisite. His method of using a light, relaxed, and even comforting tone served him well as he led his gang of friends and strays known as the merry pranksters on an adventure to new york on an old bus.
3.0 out of 5 stars Should be read, despite writing style,
This should be read along with Hunter Thompson's 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Many colorful characters are found in this book. Often I've been curious about what made the 60's "the 60's" and this book shines a light on a the roots of the American psychedelic movement. In terms of American literature, this book picks up where Kerouac's On The Road left off (Neal Cassady's in this one too).
I've always been lukewarm to Tom Wolfe's writing style. Too often, the story suffers from unwanted intercessions of the writer. Having an author literally shout to his own characters "Run, you fool!" and "What do we learn from this?" is really an unwise writing trick. Very distracting and pointless, really.
At its best, this book manages to capture a time period - peripherals and all. At its worst, it's dull and skim-worthy.
4.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip, no LSD required,
My first review; reader beware, it'll suck.
This book, however, does not suck. Tom Wolfe's writing has always unnerved me, while also stimulating/invigorating many of my seldom-used brain pathways. Electric Kool-aid Acid Test is written in Wolfe's usual manic lots-of-words-but-every-word-means-something-explosive style...he explores drug trips better than anyone I've ever read before, his descriptions are packed with ever-expansive meaning and valuable details, etc. I picked up this book to learn a bit more about Ken Kesey, and ended up learning a lot more about a lot of other things.
The mid-sixties seem like very extraordinary times to young people today, in part due to chronicles like this one. There are certainly people in this book that are larger-than-life, and were trying to make life larger.
This is a book about pushing the boundaries, about mapping terra incognita, about vast underground movements that are still shaking the foundations...it's a trip, and ultimately, it's a reminder that even the most well-outfitted expeditions must end at some point, and the adventurers will grow older and must return to their nests.
5.0 out of 5 stars The magic bus,
Tom Wolfe follows Ken Kesey's magic bus across America in one of the best road books of the modern era. He captures the era in all its crazy, kinetic glory, from the acid tests in Haight-Ashbury to the final descent upon Timothy O'Leary's inner sanctum in New York. But, the Merry Pranksters were out of their element in the tightly controled world of the LSD guru. The Pranksters' world was a mad-cap adventure, following on the heels of Jack Kerouac with Neal Cassady at the wheel of the bus.
The book gives you all the sordid details of the acid tests which launched the psychedelic world in San Francisco in the 60's. Wolfe provides wonderful word-images of these parties that revolved around the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Kesey emerges as the leading figure of this counter culture, when LSD was still legal. However, his feel-good notion of this hallucinatory drug comes into sharp contrast with O'Leary's transcendental notions.
Along the way, the Merry Pranksters meet Larry McMurtry and other interesting figures of the time, as the bus skirts the lower half of the United States before making its away north to New York. Kesey also has a brief visit with a down-and-out Jack Kerouac, whose On the Road had inspired this adventure, but Kerouac was having none of the Pranksters, much to their chagrin.
Wolfe highlights the difference between the East Coast and the West Coast when it came to LSD. Obviously, his affinity was for the West Coast as he captures this tale in all its wonderful mixed-up glory, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read!
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ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST (reset) by Tom Wolfe (Mass Market Paperback - Dec 1 1982)
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