From the literary wonder boy to the countercultural guru whose cross-country bus trip inspired The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, this candid biography chronicles the life and times of cultural icon Ken Kesey from the 1960s through the 1980s. Presenting an incisive analysis of the author who described himself as "too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie," this account conducts a mesmerizing journey from the perspective of Mark Christensen, an eventual member of the Kesey "flock." Featuring interviews with those within his inner circle, this exploration reveals the bestselling author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in his many forms, placing him within the framework of his time, his generation, and the zeitgeist of the psychedelic era.
In this fascinating hybrid, Christensen chronicles Kesey, who was turned on to LSD when he volunteered to be a subject in a 1957 CIA-sponsored project testing the effects of "a kaleidoscope of mind-blowing drugs." Kesey stole a large stash and introduced his friends to it, becoming an apostle for hallucinogens. After publishing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, he organized the "Merry Prankster cross-country bus tour," made famous in Tom Wolfe's 1968 bestseller, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the book that inspired a young Christensen to experiment with drugs. By then, Kesey was involved with the Grateful Dead, the Hell's Angels, and the creation of the rock-drug culture. Christensen focuses on the larger-than-life Kesey, '60s icon and enthusiastic proponent of illegal substances ("The American dream was about to be replaced by the American dream state"), using his own experiences to bring the period to exuberant life, and rejecting the illusion that LSD was liberating (he calls it "a loaded gun impossible to aim"). Acid Christ is an excellent cultural history that will also stand, perhaps ironically, as a valuable companion to the very book that inspired him to take drugs.