THE FURTHER INQUIRY
Author and counterculture leader Kesey stages a mock trial of the spirit of Neal Cassady--hero of Jack Kerouac's On the Road and "the fastest man alive"--defending him with loving reportage, fragments of verbatim transcripts, and scads of photos (153 color, 256 b&w--some seen) of the Merry Pranksters and their 1964 voyage across America in a psychedelically painted bus called "Further." "Ease off. Csshhh. . .New York! Somewhere north. Dig the semi passing," says Cassady here in an amazing stream-of-consciousness monologue that trips from speeding trucks to the laws of time and motion ("In every action or thing like pshhoooo! there's a weak spot. Now the weak spot is always attacked by the highest of the next lower forces. Like second dimensional, third dimensional, fourth dimensional. . ."). The monologue never really stops from La Honda, Cal., to N.Y.C., and it's what inspired Tom Wolfe to celebrate Cassady in The Electric Keel. Aid Acid Test as a speed-demon shaman to the nation's young. Creating an imaginary courtroom and employing screenplay format (he wrote an early version of this work as a screenplay in 1978), Kesey scrutinizes the character of the jittery, lecherous Cassady. Did he or did he not seduce and bedevil the young actress who came to be called "Stark Naked"? Calling to the stand such stalwart fellow travelers as Gretch the Slime Queen, Zonker, and Dr, Knot, Kesey exonerates "Cowboy Neal" and celebrates the whole strange trip as powerful medicine for a nation stagnating behind a "screen" of habit: "The situation was bound to become--still might become terminal, unless that cancerous screen is blasted away, like scales from the eye, tartar from the tooth. . ." A psychedelic valentine for the Nineties: a wacky and slight but sweet and wistful review of the best-known trip of the Sixties.