Tom Wolfe's - The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

"Can you pass the Acid Test?"

Tom Wolfe, a very influential author and journalist of the late 50's and early 60's, put together a terrific novel about the drug culture in the Bay Area during that same time, especially the culture revolving around Ken Kesey. A very descriptive writer, Wolfe was able to capture the essence of not only Ken Kesey but the people and the scene around him as well. This book provided insight into the era of peace, love, and drugs during the early 60's in San Francisco. Personally, I read this book with more enjoyment than I read most texts, I found myself reading whenever I had a chance.

"He has a big neck with a pair of sternocleido-mastoid muscles that rise up out of the prison work shirt like a couple of dock ropes," is the description of Ken Kesey the first time that Wolfe sees him in San Mateo County Jail. Wolfe goes on throughout the novel getting very descriptive about every little detail, not just about people but also about surroundings. "They see it all, grok it all-Scram, spilt run, flee, hide, vanish, disintegrate-the red alert is so very clear, it blinks and blinks, red, nothing, red, nothing, red, nothing, red, nothing, and yet move? and miss it all? turning so slow in the interferrometric synch?," is Wolfe's description of a roof top panic, where officers Fred Pardella and Thomas L. O'Donnell are coming to bust Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. The use of the vernacular in this novel was amazing.

I felt like I could not put this book down it was almost too easy to read. Wolfe's use of description and the vernacular left me hungry for more each time that I put the book down. Going from chapter to chapter in this book was like listening to a tale being song to me by a troubadour. Wolfe invites you on his journey deep into the drugged-up hippie culture of the early 60's and lets you see into the mind of one of the leaders of the movement from another person's point of view. I am now eager to read another book by Wolfe.

Sean Vienna

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