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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Tom Wolfe


If you've ever wondered what it's like to think, talk, and operate while on acid, I suspect that reading this book is the closest you'll get to it without pharmacological intervention....

I decided to tread this after reading How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, a far more studious and measured encounter with psychedelics. This, by contrast, is a full-on trip in its own right featuring the Merry Pranksters, the Hell's Angels, the Grateful Dead, the Beatles (kind of), and what does sound like a pretty idyllic lifestyle amid the California woodlands.

The "electric Kool-Aid acid test" of the title is one such event, a happening in downtown LA at which the Pranksters provided the catering and spiked the punch – in fairness to them, not thinking anyone could possibly be surprised that this would happen as an event billed as an acid test. Mayhem predictably ensues.

The book is a showcase for what a superb writer Wolfe is. To be able to pull off a book that simultaneously makes sense while reading like a stream of consciousness is quite a feat. It's a challenging read in spite of this, but full of colour and texture from an age now passed and probably beyond retrieval.

3/5. Finished 10 July 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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