A bullet train of a book, fast-paced, hilarious, rich with action. A harbinger of good things to come in mysterious ways.
It all began at a cocktail party at Wallace Stegner’s for the Stanford writing class of 1958. Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs became cronies, embarking on a frolicking, rambunctious adventure that lasted over 40 years. Babbs calls the 70 stories of this book “burlesques” because, after 85 years of living, much of it in the wide friendly center of an evolving, at times psychedelic culture, memory no longer can, or even should include an exact retelling, but only a tasty sprinkling of the truth, mixed with an endless enigma, all topped with the best of humor and heart.
The troupe of characters include the Kens Kesey and Babbs, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Timothy Leary, Jerry Garcia, Pigpen, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mountain Girl, Sonny Barger, Larry McMurtry, Wavy Gravy, Hunter S. Thompson, Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Jan Kerouac, Bill Walton, Wendell Berry, a pick-up bed-sized sturgeon, and always the many free-spirited, creative, friendly men and women who made up the Merry Band of Pranksters.
Come along for the ride on the famous bus trip to Manhattan. Join the Hells Angels at their partying best. Drop in for the early Acid Tests. Experience the Berkeley Vietnam anti-war rally. Relish the stories of Kesey’s pot busts and “suicide.” Climb aboard–“Board!”–for six months on the lam in Mexico. Take the Further tours with the Grateful Dead. Make the ultimate move to Oregon, where Babbs and Kesey grew a magical friendship and collaboration until Kesey passed in 2001.
Irreverent, unencumbered by social norms, literary and poetic, Cronies is a poignant view of the Sixties and beyond from someone who was there, and remembers it well. Kind of…