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‘Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ author Tom Wolfe, RIP

Electric Kool Aid Acid Test

Author and counter-culture icon Tom Wolfe has passed away. The NY Times reports that “his death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit, who said Mr. Wolfe had been hospitalized with an infection.” Wolfe died in a hospital in New York, where he has lived since 1962. He was 88.

Among Wolfe’s many well-regarded works was 1968’s The Electric Kool-Aid Test, which is probably his most iconic work within the music world, as it’s one of the most famous profiles of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters’ acid tests, for which Kesey traveled the country in his psychedelic “Furthur” bus with The Grateful Dead and other notable hippies and beatniks. From a review on The Guardian of the book:

The structure of the book is complex; the style is a triumph of stylistic art, in the old manner of setting style to subject. It should not be dismissed as sociological fashion writing, neither should it be put aside as yesterday’s thing. What Wolfe is talking about is the fundamental way in which American society changed in the mid-1960s. Nobody before had attempted to explain so fully the how and why of the hallucinogens with such art and such painstaking care to detail and social accuracy. The book, for example, explains the sudden change of the Beatles’ music; they had absorbed the Californian acid rock music. On a more serious level no one else has attempted such a serious appraisal of what it is about LSD which makes the experience seem so valuable yet be so incommunicable.

Tom also wrote The Right Stuff (about the Project Mercury astronauts in the initial U.S. space program) and ’80s-skewering The Bonfire of the Vanities. Rest in peace, Tom. You’ll be missed.

Listen to Jerry Garcia discuss the acid tests:

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