The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Some books (1961 – 1975) that either faked ingesting LSD or did *

* (restored)

 

Terry Taylor Baron’s Court, All Change (1961)

‘Terry Taylor did it all. He was the model for the unnamed narrator of Absolute Beginners, did some serious work in drugs and magic (taking up from Berber practices he picked up in Tangier), hung out with William Burroughs, listened to a lot of cool modern jazz, was the original mod before the term was even being used… and wrote this book, the first British novel to mention LSD, as well as having a drug dealing narrator who wants to spend his profits the cool way, on jazz and shirts from Cecil Gee! All in all a complete groove sensation!’ — Stewart Home

 



 


Aldous Huxley Island (1962)

Island explores many of the themes and ideas that interested Huxley in the post-World War II decades and were the subject of many of his nonfiction books of essays, including Brave New World Revisited, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, The Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy. Some of these themes and ideas include overpopulation, ecology, modernity, democracy, mysticism, entheogens, and somatotypes. Common background elements occur in both Island and Brave New World; they were used for good in the former and for ill in the latter. Such elements include: Drug use for enlightenment and self-knowledge; Group living (in the form of Mutual Adoption Clubs) so that children would not have unalloyed exposure to their parents’ neuroses; Trance states for super learning; Assisted reproduction (low-tech artificial insemination); Freely-available contraception to enable reproductive choice, expressive sex; Dangerous climb to a temple, as spiritual preparation; Mynah birds trained to utter uplifting slogans.’ — collaged

 



 

Kurt Vonnegut Cat’s Cradle (1963)

‘Spent most of a 300ug LSD trip reading Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut. Absolutely beautiful. 11/10 I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Seriously, could not recommend this book and substance both together or seperate more. The Grateful Dead set up a publishing company called Ice Nine (in tribute to this book).’ — Longdog

 

 

 



 

Philip K. Dick The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)

‘The story begins in a future world where global temperatures have risen so high that in most of the world it is unsafe to be outside without special cooling gear during daylight hours. In a desperate bid to preserve humanity and ease population burdens on Earth, the UN has initiated a “draft” for colonizing the nearby planets, where conditions are so horrific and primitive that the unwilling colonists have fallen prey to a form of escapism involving the use of an illegal drug (CAN-D) in concert with “layouts.” Layouts are physical props intended to simulate a sort of alternate reality where life is easier than either the grim existence of the colonists in their marginal off-world colonies, or even Earth, where global warming has progressed to the point that Antarctica is prime vacation resort territory. The illegal drug CAN-D allows people to “share” their experience of the “Perky Pat” (the name of the main female character in the simulated world) layouts. This “sharing” has caused a pseudo-religious cult or series of cults to grow up around the layouts and the use of the drug.’ — collaged

 



 


Richard Fariña Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1966)

‘Fariña wrote the novel while a student at Cornell University. The novel is laced with pseudonym references to Cornell University (“Mentor University”), Cornellians and Ithaca landmarks. Gnossos is a gleeful, LSD gobbling anarchist, heaving creche statuary off a bridge into one of Ithaca’s famed gorges, smoking dope at fraternity parties, poking fun at the pompous, self-righteous and well-to-do, swilling Red Cap ale, retsina and martinis, while pursuing the coed in the green knee-socks and seeking karma. After a detour to Cuba during the anti-Batista revolt, Gnossos returns to “Athene” to become the inadvertent leader of the student rebellion against a university edict—this is 1958 after all—that would have banned women from men’s apartments.’ — collaged

 



 

Jacqueline Susann Valley Of The Dolls (1966)

‘Imagine you are lying in a silk-sheeted waterbed next to a vast swimming pool, smoking a ridiculously long cigarette, wearing an Italian bikini and extremely large, expensive hat, and you’ve just gotten the most gorgeous pedicure ever administered in human history. You’ve just dropped Acid, done about sixteen lines of coke and have popped a few jars of quaaludes, and a leathery, bronzed older gentleman with silvery hairs all over his chest and a visible tan line where his wedding ring usually sits is alternately giving you backrubs, lavishing you with glittering jewelry, and skillfully providing immense oral pleasure. While all this is going on, you are thinking about how fat and old you’ve been getting, sipping from a decanter of single-malt scotch, and eating slice after slice of the most magnificent chocolate cake that has ever been baked. The cake is delicious, the drugs are great, the cunnilingus is stellar, and it’s all totally worth the terrible sacrifices you’ve made to arrive here today, despite the fact that you are clearly about to vomit yet again into the enormous pool.’ — Jessica, goodreads

 



 

Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)

‘”So, what do you think it’s about?” she asked, as she took a preliminary sip from her cocktail. “Entropy, to start with,” he replied. “If only he’d known the Holographic Principle. It follows from thermodynamic calculations that the information content of a black hole is proportional to the square of its radius, not the cube, and the Universe can reasonably be thought of as a black hole. Hence all its information is really on its surface, and the interior is a low-energy illusion. Wouldn’t you say that the book is rather like that too?”‘ — Manny, goodreads

 



 

William H. Knoles Mondo Sadisto (1966)

‘Working for an obscure sex fiction developer called Ember topics, William H. Noles created the “0008″ series, outrageous, psychedelic, self-conscious and very funny spoofs of Ian Fleming’s 007/James Bond series and the whole super-spy craze, which, in 1965, was just starting to reach its peak. From the first, Our Man from Sadisto (“MEET 0008—PEERLESS LOVER, FEARLESS KILLER!”), the 0008 topics featured sex, spies, su-pervillains, wisecracks, sex, torture, orgies, time travel, secret weapons, more torture, more sex, and an assortment of satiric characters and an unexpectedly knowing and self-reflexive wit, all wrapped up in covers featuring an assortment of buxom beauties in shredded go-go girl duds and skintight Emma Peel-ish bodysuits. Allison lampooned and referenced the new, instantly cliched milieu of espionage sensationalism in a way that other writers tried (in similar series such as The Lady from L.U.S.T.) and that surfaced on film in the leering Matt Helm series and the chaotic film version of Fleming’s Casino Royale, but Allison did it better than any of them. The topics were funny, hip, and sexy as hell.’ — collaged

 



 

Kenneth R. Brown Tiger In Haight-Ashbury (1967)

‘A novel set against a backdrop of the hippie scene in the Haight-Ashbury. It’s true that peace and love were the hippie ideal. Unfortunately, violence, sex and insurrection became the rule once LSD was introduced into the scene. The blurb on the front cover indicates that this may be a work of pulp fiction: “A savage novel of violence, sex and insurrection. The hippie world explodes – will blow your mind.”— collaged

 



 

William S. Burroughs The Ticket That Exploded (1967)

‘Together with The Soft Machine and Nova Express it is part of a trilogy, often referred to as The Nova Trilogy or The Cut-Up Trilogy, created using the cut-up technique, although for this book Burroughs used a variant called ‘the fold-in’ method. The novel is an anarchic tale concerning mind control by psychic, electronic, sexual, pharmaceutical, subliminal, and other means. Passages from the other two books and even from this book show up in rearranged form and are often repeated. This work is significant for fans of Burroughs, in that it describes his idea of language as a virus and his philosophy of the cut-up technique.’ — collaged

 



 

Tom Robbins Another Roadside Attraction (1967/1971)

‘In 1967 Robbins mailed off 30 pages of his novel to Nichols who sent them to the New York office. The senior editors, some holdovers for when Doubleday was a Roman Catholic publishing house did not approve but Nichols encouraged Robbins to keep writing. After he had 70 pages there were then sent back to New York but the younger editors still failed to convince the senior editors to publish. It wasn’t until 1970 that Doubleday finally accepted the manuscript and published 6,000 copies in 1971. In his memoir, Robbins states that he didn’t want to describe the sixties in this novel but to re-create them on the page, “to mirror in style as well as content their mood, their palatte, their extremes, their vibrations, their profundity, their silliness and whimsy.” Robbins also said he used a collage technique—he skimmed media such as the underground press, KRAB radio program guides, broadsides, fliers for concerts to try and pluck out items that might capture a portrait of the period. In the book a baboon is stolen from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Shortly after publication someone did actually steal a baboon from the Zoo.’ — collaged

 



 

Terry Southern Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes (1967)

‘Like much of Southern’s work, Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes presents a detailed portrait of American culture during the 1960s. Many stories, in particular “You’re Too Hip, Baby”, “The Blood of a Wig”, and “The Night the Bird Blew for Doctor Warner”, explore the mentality of the hippie and the pretentiousness of countercultures. Other stories, like “Recruiting for the Big Parade” and “Twirling at Ole Miss”, present unusual non-fiction, and may be viewed as an early form of gonzo journalism. “Twirlin’ at Ole Miss” has been cited by Tom Wolfe as one of the defining works of the genre and as such it was included in Wolfe and A.W. Johnson’s anthology The New Journalism. The majority of the book’s stories, like the eponymous “Red-Dirt Marijuana”, simply present detailed character sketches and bizarre flights of fancy. In “The Sun and the Still-Born Stars”, a Texan farmer wages a surreal, Beowulfian struggle against a mysterious sea monster. In “Love Is a Many Splendored”, Franz Kafka receives an obscene crank call from Sigmund Freud. Beneath these strange juxtapositions, Southern explores themes of alienation, love, and truth. The collection has been widely praised by authors such as Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, William S. Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, and Kurt Vonnegut. Joseph Heller characterized it as “the cutting edge of black comedy.”‘ — collaged

 



 

Maia Wojciechowska Tuned Out (1968)

‘In Jim’s revealing journal, which is the substance of this moving book, we share the experience of that terrible summer – the LSD and marijuana, the hippies, the disillusionment, the helpless confusion and fear. It is all recorded frankly, to the final horror of Kevin’s freaking out and the shaky beginnings of his redemption. Kevin comes home from college, and he’s become a marijuana fiend! He giggles maniacally, flaps his hands, hallucinates evil circles, and demands that Jim smoke pot with him. While Kevin freaks out, Jim experiences ecstasy, and then is visited by a devil who is out to get Kevin’s soul and an angel who urges Jim to save him. The angel takes off, having convinced Jim that pot is bad. Kevin then hauls Jim out to score LSD, which Kevin has never tried before. They meet naked, dirty hippie chicks in a filthy squat, and nice adults who warn them of the terrors of “freaking out.” Kevin trips and “freaks out.” He thinks the circles are attacking him, breaks a mirror and goes catatonic.’ — collaged

 



 

Richard Brautigan In Watermelon Sugar (1968)

‘It is a tale of a commune organized around a central gathering house which is named “iDEATH”. In this environment, many things are made of watermelon sugar (though the inhabitants also use pine wood and stone for building material and fuel is made from trout oil). The landscape of the novel is always changing. Each day has a different colored sun which creates different colored watermelons, and the central building also changes frequently. Through the narrator’s first person account we hear the story of the people and the events of iDEATH. The central tension is created by Margaret, once a lover of the narrator, and inBOIL, a rebellious man who has left iDEATH to live near a forbidden area called the Forgotten Works. It is a huge trash heap where the remnants of a former civilization lie abandoned in great piles. Margaret, a collector of such ‘forgotten things’, is friendly with inBOIL and his followers, who explore the place and make whiskey.’ — collaged

 



 

Tom Wolfe The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

‘Tom Wolfe’s much-discussed kaleidoscopic non-fiction novel chronicles the tale of novelist Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. In the 1960s, Kesey led a group of psychedelic sympathizers around the country in a painted bus, presiding over LSD-induced “acid tests” all along the way. Long considered one of the greatest books about the history of the hippies, Wolfe’s ability to research like a reporter and simultaneously evoke the hallucinogenic indulgence of the era ensures that this book, written in 1967, will live long in the counter-culture canon of American literature.’ — collaged

 



 

Michael Moorcock The Final Programme (1968)

‘Written in 1965 as the underground culture was beginning to emerge, it was not published for several years. Moorcock has stated that publishers at the time considered it was “too freaky”. Set in a world totally abstract and chaotic, it introduces Jerry Cornelius as a hip superhero and follows his adventures as he attempts to subvert a plot by his disreputable brother Frank and Miss Brunner to build a super computer for nefarious ends. Jerry is sucked into the plans of Miss Brunner to create the perfect being by merging the bodies of Jerry and herself together. When this is done, a radiantly charismatic hermaphroditic being emerges from the machinery. All who see the new creature fall quaking to their knees. As things turn out, Jerry discovers that “it’s a tasty world”.’ — collaged

 



 

Carlos Castaneda The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968)

‘A young anthropologist goes into the desert, meets an old shaman and does a bunch of peyote, DMT/salvia, and shrooms. This book is his account from one trip to another with bits of hippy-wisdom thrown in, like the oft-quoted “ask yourself if this path has a heart” passage. Beyond the tripping, the author doesn’t seem to understand the spiritual aspects of what Don Juan is trying to tell him. Like when he smoked the “little smoke” and thought himself to become a bird, he asks Don Juan afterwards “did I really become a bird?” and needles him to give him an objective answer, which, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of the whole experience. His assessment of his time with Don Juan only go as deep as his literal understanding of things, rather than any meaningful, metaphorical reflection of his “teaching”. I couldn’t decide if he’s either really dense or just too westernized to see anything beyond his daily comprehension.’ — Adam, goodreads

 



 

Kenneth Tindall Great Heads (1969)

‘The book’s Great Heads are hip, restless wanderers who populate a world addled with drugs and hormones, set to the beat of experimental rock and punctuated with poetry, bar fights and police brutality. Billie Stonecipher, folk-singer, anchors the love story that chronicles the lives of a reckless set: Ole Hansen, a scholarly, smooth-talking drug dealer; blind virtuoso Chester Flynn; his closest boyhood friend Robert Gemshorn; and Chester’s wife, Birgit, a native whose bohemian boutique is a hangout and a hit. Tindall’s characters are set in bittersweet arrangements where they create and destroy one another like symphonic movements in scenes of brutal and exhilarating honesty.’ — collaged

 



 

Rudolph Wurlitzer Nog (1969)

‘“Rudy Wurlitzer,” his mama must have shouted, “you stay away from those big blue mushrooms down by the jukeyard!” He mustn’t have heard because his novel Nog is one helluva trip. Strange one, this Rudy Wurlitzer, descended from a long line of music machine magicians, of Rudolph Wurlitzer Company fame, young Rudy a wanderer with Eastern interests, a peacenik beatnik beachnik boho bum blues aficionado with hopes of writing apocalyptic psychedelic Westerns for the once sepiasilver by then rainbowsmeared Big Screen. Only the Screen turned into his Mind. By the time Rudy was a sprout the Wurlitzer fortune had long dwindled, so he set off, bloodwarmwaves in eager veins, like so many in his day seeking some transcendental phantom republic out there in the deserts, in the cities and towns tucked tidy in their deepest longings for a birth of joyful exuberant existence. And all Rudy seemed to think about was frontier apocalypse and how everyday was starting to feel like Altamont. A starry wandering vegetable existence. Cults in the desert. An octopus in the trailer. What a nightmare. Have you seen a Wurlitzer jukebox or piano? Those things must have turned his head inside out. I imagine Rudy Wurlitzer’s wasteland, after the trip wore off, filled with pianos and jukes, stacked in the sand like pyramids, or a whole junkyard as far as the eye will let in. Rudy standing high in the twisted ruined wastes with the sun dropping its final rays around him, illuminating the silver wood guts of the world, looking up beyond the gnarled heaps with hope in his heart and the cities now gleaming in his mind, thinking maybe this time there would be transcendence.’ — Shan, goodreads

 



 


Richard Horn Encyclopedia (1969)

‘This daring novel is structured as a series of alphabetical entries, complete with definitions, dates, verbatim dialogue, lists of objects, and cross-references, that the reader can use as he pleases. The dates of various events, given within the entries, carry the narrative forward, so that the reader is made aware of the ultimate fortunes of the characters by means of a multiple, interior chronology. The basic story is of the desperate and unhappy love of Tom Jones, a young, aspirant poet, for Sadie Massey, a well-off girl who has flung herself into the several bohemias available to her, and embraced, with equal fervor, drugs, alcohol, art, and sexual promiscuity. Their love affair, and the background of mutual friends and enemies against which it is set, reveals a cross-section of urban artistic life that is limned with a clarity and acuteness that borders on the photographic.’ — collaged

 



 

Jane Gallion Stoned (1969)

‘The Stuarts live in interesting times. The anti-war movement is being taken to the streets, the civil rights movement has just gained a martyr in Martin Luther King, and as for the home front – women everywhere are getting downright uppity. What do women want? They want out of the kitchen. They want more than just a new washer. More than a nicer house in a better neighborhood. More than putting the kids to bed and settling down with a good book. They want liberation, some excitement in their lives, and they want sex – good sex and plenty of it. And they’re tired of being ladylike about it. Times are changing. Happy Days are long over. Times are beginning to change in the Stuart house, too. Folding laundry and going to bed unsatisfied are just not making it any more. Sex, LSD, and rock and roll are about to change Elaine Stuart’s life forever. And about time, too!’ — collaged

 


 

William J. Craddock Be Not Content (1970)

‘Almost completely unknown among the various chronicles of life in 1960s America (Thomas Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test comes to mind), this book is astoundingly well-written and perceptive, considering that Craddock was only 21 when he finished it. It’s an autobiographical tale of his experiences (in the form of his alter ego Abel Egregore) as, first, a member of the Night Riders motorcycle club in southern California, and later as a hippie “acid freak” seeking enlightenment through near-constant experimentation with LSD and marijuana. Although the descriptions sometimes run on over-long, Craddock is often at his best when he’s describing what it’s like to be high on acid. He often differentiates between time as it is experienced during a trip, and time as it is normally experienced, and how the hallucinations tend to distort one’s sense of time, as well as all other senses. As with his own experience of the events, it is often difficult to tell which parts of his trips are real — did that conversation with his friend Preston really take place, or was it part of the hallucination? — and which parts are just chemically induced sensory distortion.’ — Curt Corman, goodreads

 



 

Thomas McGuane The Bushwacked Piano (1971)

‘It’s amazing how pointless my life seems when I’m trying to make myself read a book I don’t like. Reading a really bad book can be kind of fun, as I like to mentally catalog all my complaints in preparation for writing a scathing review. But I didn’t have that sense of purpose here. I just kept thinking, again and again, “what?” I guess I just didn’t get it. There were whole paragraphs and conversations that I couldn’t connect to the story, and there were dozens of allusions that went way over my head. The main character, who I’m assuming is supposed to be sympathetic, just came off as really high all the time or maybe actually insane. In fact, all of the characters and their interactions with each other seemed totally unnatural. I just couldn’t put two and two together. I had no idea where the story was going. I didn’t know what to think, and that’s why it took me over a week to get through a mere 220 pages.’ — Christina, goodreads

 



 

Renee Auden The Party (1971)

‘Published by the legendary Olympia Press, The Party written by Uta West under the pseudonym Renee Auden is a novel based on the imagined sexual encounters of a wealthy groupie who takes LSD and has trips and sex and profound conversations with Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix.’ — collaged

 

 

 



 

Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972)

‘The novel lacks a clear narrative and frequently delves into the surreal, never quite distinguishing between what is real and what is only imagined by the characters. The basic synopsis revolves around journalist Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson) and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Oscar Zeta Acosta), as they arrive in 1971 Las Vegas to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race for an unnamed magazine. However, this job is repeatedly obstructed by their constant use of variety of recreational drugs, including LSD, ether, cocaine, alcohol, mescaline, and cannabis. This leads to a series of bizarre hallucinogenic experiences, during which they destroy hotel rooms, wreck cars, and have visions of anthropomorphic desert animals, all the while ruminating on the decline of both the “American Dream” and the 60s counterculture in a city of greed.’ — collaged

 



 

Marco Vassi The Stoned Apocalypse (1972)

‘Stoned, rolling from here to there on that route from megasex to metatheater, & gathering no moss–just a certain amount of grundge–this is young Marco Vassi’s search for…who knows. It begins with a Gurdjieffite psychic who comments that killing himself will be the “one significant act” of which he’s capable; goes on to LSD & Scientology where a lovely girl smiles “deep into his libido,” travels west to a commune, the Haight, the nude encounter, a place called the Grainery which is half macrobiotic, half fruitarian, & finally to a hospital as an unpaid aide where supposedly he’s getting into other people’s heads before he’s his Laingian revelation. Sort of like that soiled stub of a Greyhound bus ticket, it’s just a tedious remnant of the world we’ve seen too often in books like this even if Vassi has managed to retain some of his youthful energy.’ — Kirkus

 



 

Jackson Short Blue Alice (1972)

‘This salacious, drug riddled LSD influenced paperback novel was read by my ex girlfriend and I on a waterbed in the early 70s as our adolescent romance bloomed. The memory of it was a running gag in our relationship. This past May, my ex girlfriend told me she would have to undergo a double mastectomy and chemo. What horrible news. I racked my brains as to what I could do to let her know I was there for her. And suddenly I remembered the novel Blue Alice. Happily, I found it online and purchased it from this bookseller. When the novel arrived, not only was it securely packaged but it was also gift-wrapped so exquisitely that I wept with joy. Then I called the bookseller to thank her for this extra touch which made a horrid event a little bit easier to take!’ — Jay Blotcher

 



 

Robert Anton Wilson The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975)

The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a series of three novels written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson first published in 1975. The trilogy is a satirical, postmodern, science fiction-influenced adventure story; a drug-, sex-, and magic-laden trek through a number of conspiracy theories, both historical and imaginary, related to the authors’ version of the Illuminati. The narrative often switches between third- and first-person perspectives in a nonlinear narrative. It is thematically dense, covering topics like counterculture, numerology, and Discordianism. The plot meanders between the thoughts, hallucinations and inner voices (both real and imagined) of its many characters, as well as through time (past, present, and future)—sometimes in mid-sentence. Much of the back story is explained via dialogue between characters, who recount unreliable, often mutually contradictory, versions of their supposed histories. There are even parts in the book in which the narrative reviews and jokingly deconstructs the work itself.’ — collaged

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. Here’s day one of a two day blog trip. You’ll see what that means tomorrow. The p.s. will see you again the day after tomorrow.

4 Comments

  1. Bill

    Considering I’ve never partaken, I’m surprised how many of these I’ve read. Great choice of graphics, Dennis!

    Hope your trip is winding down nicely. I’m back in San Francisco; we’ve been quite fogged in, maybe more so than usual. My last days in Berlin were a blur of seeing old pals, unsuccessfully avoiding the big sporting event, catching the nice Carsten Nicolai installation at the Berlinische Galerie, a concert in a beautiful old water tank with Mazen Kerbaj, Burkhard Beins, and Michel Vorfeld, etc etc. So, a typical sojourn in one of my favorite cities.

    Bill [First, ha]

  2. Steve Erickson

    Great timing, considering that psychedelic drugs seem to be achieving a new respectability and even the New Yorker did a joint review of Tao Lin’s TRIP, a posthumous Timothy Leary collection and Michael Pollan’s book about his experiences with psychiatric use of LSD, DMT and miushrooms.

    Here are my reviews of the Indonesian film MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS: http://gaycitynews.nyc/four-approaches-marlina-murderer/ and the Brazilian film ARABY: http://gaycitynews.nyc/passing/

  3. David Ehrenstein

    Roger Corman on Acid!

  4. Sypha

    never done LSD but I loved the ILLUMINATUS trilogy.

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