February 15, 2017

On The Bus: Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test"

This is one of those books I hadn’t read, but thought that my knowledge of the canon was incomplete if I had not read it. Especially considering reading bunches of Wolfe’s other fiction and nonfiction and my writing being compared to the “New Journalism” movement back in college.

This is also part of a project of mine to revisit books I had started and then abandoned some time before. I first bought and started reading this about two years ago, I was in it, but here’s a spoiler alert: there is more to the book than the bus ride (though it is the metaphor that carries through “you’re either on the bus or off the bus”). I guess I was off the bus, since once the bus trip ended and the Kesey colony started in place I felt out of place.

But I picked it back up and it ended up being rewarding because though I was looking for one arc, it ended up servicing another arc that worked. There was just that one transition period that left me cold and made me put the book down. There is a whole story about how people started trying to expand their minds in here, and the push-back against that both from the original people on the bus as well as the people who were never on the bus. It gives more depth to Kesey as a person and make him more than the author of the book that became that Jack Nicholson movie (and the author of “Sometimes a Great Notion,” a book I read 200 pages of and stopped reading 15 years ago, Maybe I should dig that up).