Cover copy: 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.



The freaking out silhouette is even more detailed and hilarious in real life.

Written in 1968 by a very square author determined to plumb the horrifying depths of drugs she clearly never tried herself, this novel is regrettably only intermittently amusing: one part Reefer Madness to three parts unconvincing teen angst.

Sixteen-year-old Jim idolizes his nineteen-year-old brother Kevin to a rather disturbing degree. This is how the novel opens:

One day I ought to find out how it is with other kids. I don’t think I’m abnormal or anything for sixteen, but I don’t think that there are many guys my age who are still crazy about their older brothers. They might actually love them, but I just don’t think they are crazy about them. […] It’s not that I’m ashamed of it or anything like that, but how do you explain that Kevin is not just a brother to me? Besides being the greatest guy I know, he’s someone I’ve got to have. I mean it’s very important to me to have him.

Fandom! Stop making me go to the bad incest place!

Jim goes on and on and ON about Kevin for the entire rest of the chapter. He offers to be Kevin’s “Boswell” and follows him around writing down everything Kevin says to preserve it for posterity.

He is important.For one thing he never says ordinary, cruddy things. When he speaks he almost always says something really brilliant.

[…]

I really want his opinions on these things so they can become my opinions too.

Then, at the end of an entire chapter of that: I’ve been re-reading these last couple of pages, and I do sound sort of creepy.

Yes. Yes, you do. I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that the author wrote this entire thing as a first draft and never re-wrote, but rather added in stuff like that as she went along.

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 (“You know. Tea. Grass. Marijuana.”) with him. Jim does so, despite his a Public Service Announcement’s worth of reservations. What follows is certainly the most unique pot high I’ve ever come across in fiction. While Kevin freaks out over the circles, Jim experiences ecstasy, hilarity, 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-devil-Jim dialogue goes on for pages and pages and pages. Then Jim comes down and pukes his guts out. But lo! The angel is still there! The angel is real! Jim’s soul really is in danger from the Demon Marijuana!

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 – all together now – “freaks out.” This is disappointingly tame: he thinks the circles are attacking him, breaks a mirror and goes catatonic.

Kevin is taking to a mental hospital, where a nice psychiatrist fixes him up. He and Jim swear off drugs, and Jim resolves to try to get some of his own opinions. And then he goes and gets himself killed in Vietnam. The end!

Oh, forgot to mention: No one in the history of humanity has ever taken heroin and not become addicted, and it is impossible to ever get off it. If you take heroin, you are DOOOOMED.

View boggled reviews on Amazon: Tuned out; a novel
Cover copy: 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.



The freaking out silhouette is even more detailed and hilarious in real life.

Written in 1968 by a very square author determined to plumb the horrifying depths of drugs she clearly never tried herself, this novel is regrettably only intermittently amusing: one part Reefer Madness to three parts unconvincing teen angst.

Sixteen-year-old Jim idolizes his nineteen-year-old brother Kevin to a rather disturbing degree. This is how the novel opens:

One day I ought to find out how it is with other kids. I don’t think I’m abnormal or anything for sixteen, but I don’t think that there are many guys my age who are still crazy about their older brothers. They might actually love them, but I just don’t think they are crazy about them. […] It’s not that I’m ashamed of it or anything like that, but how do you explain that Kevin is not just a brother to me? Besides being the greatest guy I know, he’s someone I’ve got to have. I mean it’s very important to me to have him.

Fandom! Stop making me go to the bad incest place!

Jim goes on and on and ON about Kevin for the entire rest of the chapter. He offers to be Kevin’s “Boswell” and follows him around writing down everything Kevin says to preserve it for posterity.

He is important.For one thing he never says ordinary, cruddy things. When he speaks he almost always says something really brilliant.

[…]

I really want his opinions on these things so they can become my opinions too.

Then, at the end of an entire chapter of that: I’ve been re-reading these last couple of pages, and I do sound sort of creepy.

Yes. Yes, you do. I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that the author wrote this entire thing as a first draft and never re-wrote, but rather added in stuff like that as she went along.

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 (“You know. Tea. Grass. Marijuana.”) with him. Jim does so, despite his a Public Service Announcement’s worth of reservations. What follows is certainly the most unique pot high I’ve ever come across in fiction. While Kevin freaks out over the circles, Jim experiences ecstasy, hilarity, 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-devil-Jim dialogue goes on for pages and pages and pages. Then Jim comes down and pukes his guts out. But lo! The angel is still there! The angel is real! Jim’s soul really is in danger from the Demon Marijuana!

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 – all together now – “freaks out.” This is disappointingly tame: he thinks the circles are attacking him, breaks a mirror and goes catatonic.

Kevin is taking to a mental hospital, where a nice psychiatrist fixes him up. He and Jim swear off drugs, and Jim resolves to try to get some of his own opinions. And then he goes and gets himself killed in Vietnam. The end!

Oh, forgot to mention: No one in the history of humanity has ever taken heroin and not become addicted, and it is impossible to ever get off it. If you take heroin, you are DOOOOMED.

View boggled reviews on Amazon: Tuned out; a novel
My back hurts too much to concentrate to the level the memoir requires and way too much to train, so yay for livejournal and a pillow stuffed behind my back.

When I stopped for lunch in Santa Maria yesterday (seafood bisque, very nice) I popped into a thrift shop to check out the books. Thrift shops are often havens for books that I read when I was a kid and which I should have hung on to, because they never appear in bookshops. Eureka!

A Choose Your Own Adventure book, MASTER OF JUDO. I must have read hundreds of those, but not that one. The "others in the series" list includes MASTER OF KUNG FU, MASTER OF TAE KWON DO, MASTER OF KARATE (too bad they didn't have that one), and (to cover all bases) MASTER OF MARTIAL ARTS. My favorites, however, were not in that series but were Rose Estes' Dungeons and Dragons books, especially CIRCUS OF FEAR and REVENGE OF THE RAINBOW DRAGONS.

Ellen Kushner wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure book, incidentally. Hers was about getting transported back in time to being an immigrant at Ellis Island.

CAN I GET THERE BY CANDLELIGHT? by Jean Slaughter Doty. Doty wrote pretty good and comparatively realistic books about horses; THE MONDAY HORSES, for instance, is a gritty backstage portrait of a rental stable, complete with pushy parents and doped horses. CANDLELIGHT is a moody timeslip novel about a girl who rides her horse Candlelight a hundred years into the past. The ending is unexpectedly bleak.

HEADS YOU WIN, TAILS I LOSE, by Isabelle Holland. Holland wrote a number of glum YA novels, of which my favorite was ALAN AND THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, about a boy who doesn't tell anyone that his last remaining relative has died, because he thinks they'll put all his pets to sleep, which is what happened when his next-to-last relative died. It ends on the signature glum YA novel note of a teeny ray of hope in the midst of inevitable misery and despair. Holland also wrote some adult suspense novels, which I remember enjoying but have never been able to find.

She's probably best-known for THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE, in which a boy apparently has a sexual moment with a man-- something which blew right over my head when I read it. I hope this review at amazon is a joke:

"For the same reason that the historical novels of Mary Reynolds are failures - a trilogy which purports to depict the relationships between Alexander the Great and his boy, but suppurates with honey and marshmallows until no self respecting male can continue reading them - Holland's book becomes absurd rather than tragic. Women should not try to write about relationships between men and men, or between men and boys. They possess neither the physiological instruments nor the erotic imagination for the task. Women see the male sex drive as something superficial, anatomical and standing in the way of romance. How little they understand! Sex between men turns on shared understandings of how muscles flex, organs pulse and juices flow; and we make from our animal excitement something playful which opens the door to a testosterone driven romance more powerful than any fairy-tales that giggling girls may tell each other. Don't read the book."

The front cover of HEADS reads "Melissa lost weight steadily, but her days were spent as unknowing 'highs.'" Yep, copyright 1973. Melissa is supposedly a compulsive eater, though we don't ever see her compulsively eating. We do see her being depressed because her monstrous parents keep verbally abusing her for being fat, ugly, and unworthy. She starts popping her mother's diet pills, with predictably bad consequences. There's a vague feminist undercurrent, in which feminism keeps getting mentioned and seems to be a fad, but Holland never quite seems to connect the social pressure on women to conform to an ideal of appearance to feminism. Still, Melissa's adolescent pain comes across vividly, which is no doubt what attracted me the first time I read it.

The bit where Melissa "freaks out" reminded me to look up the ads for other books in the back of Jay Williams' wonderful middle-grade fantasy, THE HERO FROM OTHERWHERE:

TUNED OUT, by Maia Wojciechowska. Winner of the 1965 Newbery Medal.

"Summer turns into a nightmare for sixteen-year-old Jim when his brother Kevin comes home from college. Kevin, whom Jim idolizes, has changed drastically during his year away. He has become a person full of doubts, with urgent needs-- one of which is drugs.

We share the experience of that terrible summer in this moving book-- the LSD, the 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."

Yep, the teeny ray of hope in the midst of inevitable misery and despair.

It goes on to quote "Horn Book's" review: "No recent novel or factual treatment succeeds as well in showing the self-deception, the sense of alienation, the bitterness against the established order today..."

The picture shows a silhouetted man freaking out in the middle of a psychedelic swirl.
.

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