(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Its pages depicting a robin’s-egg-blue sky with fluffy clouds (a spaced out hipster’s dream of open spaces, or merely the view appropriate for a ghost speaking from the heavenly ranks), text highlighted in screenplay format, and pictures from the Merry Pranksters’ 1964 coast-to-coast road trip (California to New York), The Further Inquiry seeks to re-create visually the sensibilities of that bygone era. Michael Ian Kaye provides solarized or psychedelic Day-Glo poster art styles of the 1960’s reflective of visual experiences with the Pranksters’ drug of choice, LSD. A series of shots of legendary rapper Neal Cassady (depicted as Dean Moriarty, the lead in Jack Kerouac’s 1957 On the Road) grace the bottom-right corner and, flipped rapidly, provide the illusion of a home movie of him dancing. The book features 150 previously unpublished photographs of the trip and travelers by Ron “Hassler” Bevirt and images from Allen Ginsberg’s collections. The jacket cover blurb promises “a serious meditation on the sixties.” However, reviewer Brook Horvath in Contemporary Fiction found the text “unambitious” and limited, as did George Searles, who asserted in The New Leader that it nonetheless gives readers “a feeling of what life was like outside American mainstream culture at the dawn of the Hippie era.” Its goal may be to elucidate the past, but the perspective is nostalgic, insider to insider.

The title, The Further Inquiry, plays on the front destination sign of the once yellow school bus that the Merry Pranksters repainted in psychedelic colors for their infamous trip—“Furthur” (the back of the...

(The entire section is 686 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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