I was underwhelmed by The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe. I loved it at first, and then later in the book, I found it merely interesting. Finally, though, it just seemed to keep going on, never quite building up to anything.
Even though I know it’s a true story, I read it with a sense of disbelief. I’d written in an earlier post that I loved how Tom Wolfe faded into the story and became an invisible narrator. Later, I began to wonder if he was ever actually on the bus, or if he’d lived with the Merry Pranksters on Ken Kesey’s property. No one ever seemed to talk to him. He never seemed to participate in anything.
At the end of the book, in the Author’s Note, Tom Wolfe wrote that much of the book came from the Pranksters’ documentation. (They wrote and filmed constantly.) That’s fine. That would make this a history book. It’s just that the first chapter lead me to believe I was reading a first-person narrative.
Maybe if I’d known from the beginning that I was reading the Pranksters’ notes, and not the author’s observations, I could have gotten into it more.
Actually, I’d love to know more about this novel’s background. I’d love to see some of the Merry Pranksters’ documentation. I’d love to learn how the book was written.
Was the Merry Prankster’s Movie really the inspiration for The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour? It makes sense.
It’s not that I disliked The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I just never got into it as much as I’d hoped.