Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: Ken Kesey's Garage Sale

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: Ken Kesey's Garage Sale

Author: Ken Kesey

Publisher: Viking

Date: 1973

Amazon ID: 0670412686

Length: 238 pages

Illustrations: cartoons and collages by Paul Foster

Quote: "This is, of course, a chaotic volume, and cynics will easily dispose of it as a transparent attempt to capitalize on twice-published material, plus stuff lying at the bottom of the drawer."

"Chaotic" is putting it mildly. This encyclopedia-sized volume is, to some people's minds, a complete history of hippiedom. Much of it consists of a screenplay based on Kesey's and his Beat friends' adventures while road-tripping and drug-tripping. There's also a delightful set of "Whole Earth Catalog" book and product reviews, a long rambling interview between Kesey and a younger writer, and various introductions and short pieces of Kesey's writing.

It's a fun read that shows Kesey as a good writer and serious thinker, despite the brain-scrambling effects of LSD (to which he was introduced legally in a government-sanctioned experiment). He may never have lost faith in Marxism, but he does a good job of explaining why intelligent people of his age ever had faith in Marxism in the first place.

This book was wildly popular in some parts of the country, censored and hard to find in others, and it's now a collector's item, selling on Amazon for two or three times its original retail price. My copy is a discarded library copy, hardcover edition, and the inside dust jacket lists a price of $8.95. In your dreams could you buy even a discarded library copy of the hardcover edition for $8.95. Reasonable offers start at $20 + $5 for shipping, and may be addressed to For copies that haven't been marked up by libraries, prices will start at $25.