Maia (Teresa) Wojciechowska ANITA MacRAE FEAGLES - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Nothing is fudged up [in "Tuned Out"]; the sadder parts of the drug scene are left out (the sexual indiscrimination common among female users, for example), but the essential story is told.

We are shown in convincing detail the effects of pot and acid; the whole drug scene is handled with authority, from the hippie pad to the mental hospital. The differences among the drugs are clearly spelled out; finally, someone has said how important it is to lump marijuana with the more dangerous hallucinogens. The story is vivid enough to need no moralizing. Motivation is clear and readers know what happened. Not everyone else has been so lucky.

If one is slightly uneasy at remaining dry-eyed in the face of Jim's sensitivity and misery, perhaps it's because it's hard for a female author to carry off a boy's story—in first person. Or perhaps it's because one becomes impatient with Jim's consuming adoration of his brother.

The father and mother, as Jim sees them, don't come off too well, but then older people seldom do these days. Although they are constantly advised to trust their children, they must also, according to some of the fatuous remarks made by young people on the back jacket, be perpetually alert to horrid possibilities. This is a tough assignment, and I would not agree that "Tuned Out" should be a ready-reference work for parents. It is certainly worthwhile reading for young people for whom fictionalized material is likely to be more meaningful.

Anita MacRae Feagles, in her review of "Tuned Out," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1968 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 24, 1968, p. 42.