57 pages 1 hour read

Tom Wolfe

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1968

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Chapters 1-3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “Shiny Black FBI Shoes”

In the opening chapter of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, author Tom Wolfe describes riding through the streets of San Francisco in the back of a pickup truck with a group of oddly dressed characters known as the Merry Pranksters. The group is on their way to “the Warehouse,” the abandoned garage of an old pie factory that serves as the group’s headquarters. They are expected to meet their chief, Ken Kesey, who is getting out of jail after serving time for possession of marijuana. Wolfe admits that all he knew about Kesey at that point was that “he was a highly regarded 31-year-old novelist and in a lot of trouble over drugs” (4). He explains that Kesey had written One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962 and Sometimes a Great Notion in 1964 but was arrested twice for possession of marijuana over the next year and fled to Mexico to avoid jail time (4).

Intending to write a story about the Young Novelist Real-Life Fugitive, Wolfe planned to travel to Mexico to track him down, but Kesey sneaked back into the US and was captured by the FBI near San Francisco.