Acid Christ
Book Topics
Ken Kesey
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Sometimes A Great Notion
merry pranksters
LSD
Timothy Leary
psychedelics
1960s
San Francisco
Eugene
Oregon
Surfing
Vietnam War
marijuana
acid trips
Grateful Dead
"Acid Trip" movie
Eugene
Oregon
La Honda Ca.
Palo Alto Ca.
Larry MacMurtry
Wallace Stegner
Robert Stone
Standford University
University of Oregon
Wallace Stegner
Malcolm Cowley
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Acid Christ : Ken Kesey, LSD, and the Politics of Ecstasy

When Ken Kesey burst on the literary scene in 1962 with his groundbreaking novel, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, and scarcely two years later followed this feat with SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, his literary future seemed assured. A self-described "Okie" and campus jock-a wrestling champion at the University of Oregon--Kesey had risen to the ranks of Norman Mailer, John Updike and Truman Capote as a literary wunderkind. However, despite such an auspicious beginning, he opted instead to jump off the literary bandwagon in favor of a magic bus: accompanied by his Merry Pranksters, he set off on the free-wheeling drug-fueled cross country road trip, that was to become the iconic journey chronicled in Tom Wolfe's ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST. Virtually overnight, Ken Kesey traded away a promising literary future to reinvent himself from man of letters to psychedelic superman-a hedonistic guru of the 60's, who was to become the spokesman and poster boy for the flower-power generation. Mark Christensen, who was inspired at an early age by Kesey's literary genius, "awed by his talents, awed more by how he had abandoned many of them, and fascinated by the evolution of his legend," searched behind the myth surrounding the "King of the Counterculture" to find out how and why Kesey became a key force "in guiding if not creating one of the greatest mass movements in contemporary history." Now, after extensive research and numerous personal interviews Christensen reveals "The Commander" as a far more complex figure than the hippie cheerleader and media darling of the psychedelic era. We discover instead a conflicted and contradictory figure who became the Pied Piper to a generation of young seekers ten years younger than he, and preached of free love and peace-loving idealism, despite his down-home traditionalism and rigidly conservative viewpoint. Additionally, within the context of the Ken Kesey story, Christensen, who "grew up around the Kesey Chautauqua," skillfully weaves his own personal vignettes to forge an exhilarating blend of biography and memoir, and candidly and at times hilariously portrays himself as one of the flock who followed the edicts of his paisley-ed hero; his personal trajectory runs parallel and at times converges with that of Kesey and his followers, and the result is a sheep's eye view of the shepherd that is revealing, tragic, funny and honest. As much a multi-dimensional portrait of Kesey himself, as viewed through the prism of Christensen's personal narrative, ACID CHRIST: Ken Kesey, LSD and the Politics of Ecstasy provides a panoramic look at a generation.
Book Topics
Ken Kesey
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Sometimes A Great Notion
merry pranksters
LSD
Timothy Leary
psychedelics
1960s
San Francisco
Eugene
Oregon
Surfing
Vietnam War
marijuana
acid trips
Grateful Dead
"Acid Trip" movie
Eugene
Oregon
La Honda Ca.
Palo Alto Ca.
Larry MacMurtry
Wallace Stegner
Robert Stone
Standford University
University of Oregon
Wallace Stegner
Malcolm Cowley

Reviews and Comments

  • "In this fascinating hybrid, Christensen chronicles Kesey, who was turned on to LSD when he volunteered to be a subject in a 1957 CIA-sponsored project testing the effects of "a kaleidoscope of mind-blowing drugs." Kesey stole a large stash and introduced his friends to it, becoming an apostle for hallucinogens. After publishing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, he organized the "Merry Prankster cross-country bus tour," made famous in Tom Wolfe's 1968 bestseller, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the book that inspired a young Christensen to experiment with drugs. By then, Kesey was involved with the Grateful Dead, the Hell's Angels, and the creation of the rock-drug culture. Christensen focuses on the larger-than-life Kesey, '60s icon and enthusiastic proponent of illegal substances ("The American dream was about to be replaced by the American dream state"), using his own experiences to bring the period to exuberant life, and rejecting the illusion that LSD was liberating (he calls it "a loaded gun impossible to aim"). Acid Christ is an excellent cultural history that will also stand, perhaps ironically, as a valuable companion to the very book that inspired him to take drugs. (Oct.)"
    August 23, 2010
  • "Mark Christensen with ACID CHRIST has brought Ken Kesey to vibrant life-provocative, colorful, engaging and personal. What a pleasure to have a front-row seat into the mind of such a counter-culture icon."
    bestselling author, Fight Club and Tell All
  • "ACID CHRIST contains not only interesting stuff I didn't know about Kesey, but other information about the era - what led up to and followed it ... [It] will prove to be the most amusing history book you've ever read! "
  • "Everyone is down on the sixties except those of us who went up in smoke when they happened. Mark Christensen's ACID CHRIST takes you there, and Kesey is the right door to open if you want to put down your cyber toys and leave the plane without one of those pesky parachutes."
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