Schaffner Press, $16.95 449 pages
One cannot help but be impressed by this sometimes mesmerizing prose which will leave one wanting to find more cultural reporting and history from Mark Christensen. In Acid Christ: Ken Kesey, LSD and the Politics of Ecstasy, Christensen takes on Ken Kesey and the 1960s with new fuel, hindsight, and inspiration. The book mostly focuses on the days before Kesey retired to his farm in Oregon, having written such classics as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion. This was when the former Stanford writing student organized his (in his opinion) biggest achievement, the bus, which bridged generations of protest between the beatniks and the hippies.
Like the author, we were left to wonder if Kesey later lost steam, but when the world changed around him, he was never to find the same super stardom again in his later years. Things have since gone sour as the drug world has become more dangerous for many, and we are left to miss well-meaning rebels like Kesey.
Acid Christ: Ken Kesey, LSD and the Politics of Ecstasy, identified as a “participatory biography,” not only inadvertently credits its new journalism forerunners, mostly Hunter S. Thompson, but it also provides a contemporary reflection on those times. Kesey is found here with profound things to share about the writing process and life. Christensen skillfully provides the context, both personal and societal, in telling this story about Kesey’s life and times.