Essay, Research Paper: Electic Kool Aid Acid Test

World Literature

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Author: Tom Wolfe. 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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