History: published in 1968. Wolfe is primarily concerned not with narrative, but with relating the Pranksters' intellectual and quasi-religious experiences. Though Wolfe did not indulge in the same frequent drug use as the subjects in his work, he was intrigued by their experience and attempted to capture their state of mind and frequent revelations. To do so, he used extensive interviews and primary texts including many interviews, letters, and recordings. Wolfe seems to write just as maniacally as someone who had been “on the bus", while his "[recreation] of" his subject's "subjective reality" is occasionally interrupted by his "impersonal and objective" narrator's self-inclusion. Wolfe's infrequent first-person recounting creates the underpinning dynamic between subject and journalist in the novel, which establishes Wolfe as a medium of the acid culture to what he calls "the outside world," in a form which he was concurrently establishing as a medium of journalism within a greater medium of literature.
Plot: It tracks the story of Ken Kesey following the eye of the storm so to speak as it leaves the Beat Generation, stops by the Perry Lane bohemians and then crashes onto California at full force with the hippies, LSD and psychedelia.
Wolfe really takes the story from there, outlining the first culture clash as Jack London turns out to be Captain Marvel- not quite what the intellectuals had in mind. In fact Perry Lane was itself to physically disappear a little later as the bulldozers moved in and the journalists who arrived to meet the disgruntled academics instead found Kesey and the new arrivals on mattresses up a tree offering round a LSD chili.
Review: A true story about the authors travelings and dealings with Ken Kesey, and the many many parties he had, in which they traveled across the U.S. in a bus.
Opening Line: “That’s good thinking there, Cool Breeze.”
Closing Line: “We blew it!”
Quotes: “How to tell it! … the current fantasy… I never heard any of the Pranksters use the word religious to describe the mental atmosphere they shared after the bus trip and the strange days at Big Sur. In fact, they avoided putting it into words. And yet-“