A quasi-sociological study of the rise and decline of hippie life. It starts with Gerveys Lecomte (a light-skinned, aristocratic black from some nameless island who feels little empathy with his black brothers, and Alison, a Boston University artist defector from the bourgeois life-style, and their month-long Cambridge party back in 1966 when they first got into acid and each other. They split and make their separate ways to Anahita Island, in California -- a heaven for the dropped-out and dropping generation until reporters and cops and skag move in, the Black Panthers (with Gerveys) get together, and the hippies move out into the country. It is a sad tale, full of long druggy conversations that are both bearable and accurate, with the counterpoint of Joshua Aarons, a 19th century forebear who discovered Anahita. Despite the didactic tones, the novel is highly readable -- half-essay, half-elegy -- a sad testament to the death of another American Dream.