Outside Looking in
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T. C. Boyle
A provocative new novel from bestselling author T.C. Boyle exploring the first scientific and recreational forays into LSD and its mind-altering possibilities
In this stirring and insightful novel, T.C. Boyle takes us back to the 1960s and to the early days of a drug whose effects have reverberated widely throughout our culture: LSD.
In 1943, LSD is synthesized in Basel. Two decades later, a coterie of grad students at Harvard is gradually drawn into the inner circle of renowned psychologist and psychedelic drug enthusiast Timothy Leary. Fitzhugh Loney, a psychology Ph.D. student, and his wife, Joanie, become entranced by the drug’s possibilities such that their “research” becomes less a matter of clinical trials and academic papers and instead turns into a freewheeling exploration of mind expansion, group dynamics, and communal living. With his trademark humor and pathos, Boyle moves us from the Loneys’ initiation at one of Leary’s parties through his notorious summer seminars in Zihuatanejo to the Loneys’ eventual expulsion from Harvard and their introduction to a communal arrangement of thirty devotees—students, wives, and children—living together in a sixty-four-room mansion and committing themselves to all kinds of experimentation and questioning.
Is LSD a belief system? Does it allow you to see God? Can the Loneys’ marriage—or any marriage, for that matter—survive the chaotic and sometimes orgiastic use of psychedelic drugs? Wry, witty, and wise, Outside Looking In explores an ideal subject for this American master and highlights Boyle’s acrobatic prose, detailed plots, and big ideas. It’s an utterly engaging and occasionally trippy look at the nature of reality, identity, and consciousness as well as our seemingly infinite capacities for creativity, reinvention, and self-discovery.