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Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Times in the Wild West

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(Dutton, —22.95) This book goes way too far inside the ”inside story” of the ’60s West Coast music scene, taking the reader on an interminable flashback through an abyss of scattered minutiae. Author Joel Selvin, pop-music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, obviously knows the legendary scene like the back of his favorite album cover, but he presents it in a swirling, disconnected jumble of names and facts. Readers who can stand the nonstop onslaught of detail and digressions will learn something about the rise of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana, as well as more obscure bands like the Charlatans and Moby Grape. While Selvin tries to re-create the drug-crazed mood of the time, he strains a little too hard to come up with new ways of describing acid trips, such as: ”a whirring, arching blast out of reality into the white-hot netherworld of the mindscape beyond psychedelia.” But to be fair, there are many amusing nuggets: Grace Slick seeing the ”ugly and unwashed” Grateful Dead for the first time, commented, ”We’ll have to wipe the mikes off after they play.” And the tales of Acid Test leader Ken Kesey are worth reading for an informative blast from the past. But most readers will only be able to take a few pages of this book at a time. D+Annette Foglino