From the New York City of Kline and De Kooning to the jazz era of New Orleans's French Quarter, to Ken Kesey's psychedelic California, Prime Green explores the 1960s in all its weird, innocent, turbulent, and fascinating glory. Building on personal vignettes from Robert Stone's travels across America, the legendary novelist offers not only a riveting and powerful memoir but also an unforgettable inside perspective on a unique moment in American history.
It's a long, strange trip that's navigated in this engaging memoir. Novelist Stone (A Hall of Mirrors) recounts his salad days from a stint in the navy in the late 1950s to a desultory trip to Vietnam as a correspondent during the disastrous 1971 invasion of Laos. Stone largely sat out the civil rights and antiwar movements and cops to no ideology beyond "ordinary decency." His bailiwick was the relatively apolitical counterculture, which dawned for him when he took in Coltrane, Lenny Bruce and peyote in San Francisco in the early '60s and really kicked in when he entered the circle of literary provocateur and psychedelic guru Ken Kesey, the book's presiding genius. Memorable encounters with hallucinogens, and the resulting states of heightened awareness and stoned reflection, therefore loom large. But Stone's story, from a cross-country bus trip in which he ran a gauntlet of antihippie persecution to a stint crafting lurid headlines and freakish fables for sleazy supermarket tabloids, is also a funny, entertaining picaresque. (His big-picture ruminations say, on the links between the CIA, the drug culture and Silicon Valley sometimes have a period-authentic muzziness.) But Stone is a born storyteller, with a wonderful feel for place and character that vividly evokes the cultural gulf America crossed in that decade. Photos.
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Smug on drugs
Obnoxious intellectual elitist describes his drug influenced opinion of the 60s. He certainly has a right to describe the “reality” he lived but must he be so smug. The 60s I lived were far different. Thank goodness.