Acid Test


Acid Test Essay, Research Paper

1) Title of Book: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

2) Author: Tom Wolfe

3) The grounds on which Thomas Wolfe created this documentation of the Merry Pranksters is that he attempts to re-create both the mental and physical atmosphere of their adventure and exploration across America.

4) Specific evidence in supporting the aforementioned thesis can be found in the “Author’s Note” section of the book but also in the writing style used to develop this masterpiece. Writing in a basic journal style, Wolfe documented the extraordinary life style lived by the Pranksters through personal experiences with them as well as transcribing their adventures that were captured on both film and tape.

5) Tom Wolfe, with his journalist style of transcribing the current events, seems hard-pressed to be categorized into a specific group of historians, but he can be most noticeably associated with the New Left. This is because The New Left dealt mainly with the social and economic movements of the 1960’and 70’s, and the Psychedelic movement Wolfe documented so well was definitely a social movement of the infamous 1960’s.

6) Tom Wolfe grew up in the land of Richmond, Virginia. He eventually graduated from Washington and Lee University, and later received a doctorate in American Studies from Yale. Besides being a novelist, Wolfe has worked as a reporter for the Springfield Union, The Washington Post, and the New York Herald Tribune. Some of his writings have also appeared in New York Magazine, Esquire, and Harper’s.

7) The available information on Wolfe only affects his point of view in that the reason for his meticulous work can be found in his outstanding academic work in American Studies and diligent work as a journalist. This novel, which originally started out to be a novel discussing Ken Kesey’s (author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) life as a fugitive wanted for drug possession living in Mexico, from there developed into this “journal” of Kesey’s band, the Merry Pranksters, and their tripped out adventures.

8) One of the most outstanding features of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is the simplicity of it to read. The journal style writing Wolfe used allows the reader to be absorbed into the LSD fantasy world the Pranksters were living in. Also, Wolfe’s meticulous attention to detail adds to this effect and carries out his thesis of re-creating the atmosphere in which these acidheads existed.

9) Although it provides and interesting documentation through the use of journal form writing, Wolfe probably failed English class due to the multitude of fragments and disregarded sentences. (This may have also been a “trippy” effect, too.) Another disappointment is in the author’s note; Wolfe tells how much of the book was written through the use of viewing film. It takes away from the first hand experience developed and slightly challenges the authenticity of the material. But, it’s only a disappointment if you actually read the author’s note.

10) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a must read, but not in lieu of it being a well-developed literary masterpiece. With extreme care, Wolfe has brought to light the drug and hippie experience of the 60’s, bringing it back for anyone who was caught up in the movement and currently cannot remember any part of it. Wolfe’s ingenious note taking of the entire ordeal can cause a spark in the mind to recall the times and the controversy that went with this fascinating part of American history. But, to the younger generation, this book could be utilized as a tool against the use of drugs, and the damage it carries. Although most likely not the intention Wolfe had, his work carries the banner of “LSD will mess you up”. All in all, it’s a four star book from a personal aspect on the often misconstrued, drugged up past of the sixties.

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