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Monday, February 23, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Right up front, I'll say thanks to the author Ian Thomas Malone for inviting me to take a day trip with him by way of a very enjoyable book - which he provided at no cost to me in exchange for a review. But first, a bit of explanation is in order here; coming of age in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I know from experience that sharing a joint wasn't all that unusual. And I admit - now that I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired - that I did just that. Twice. The second time, though, was in the hope that I'd feel something I'd missed the first time around; but this one, too, was zero, zip, nada. Heck, I got more of a high from my Virginia Slims menthol than from the weed, so I figured there was no point and never again indulged.

LSD, on the other hand, seemed to offer lots more possibilities (as underscored by counter-culturist Timothy Leary's "Turn on, tune in, drop out" mantra of the mid-'60s).  But in fact, speed - other than the kind I enjoyed on my favorite roller coaster at Coney Island in Cincinnati - scared the bejesus out of me. Here I was, the product of a Midwestern farm, just starting an on-my-own journey to an unknown destination. I wasn't particularly beautiful, nor athletically inclined - so it was clear that brains would give me the best shot at a solid future. Simply put, my mind was just too important to mess with. 

But to this day, I wonder occasionally what the experience would be like. And thanks to this book, much of the mystery has been revealed. Here, I learned more about what happens to someone on drugs than in all my nearly 74 years combined as I tagged along on Malone's "trip" from beginning to end, with plenty of pretty cool stops along the way. I gleaned far too many nuggets of wisdom to mention without spoiling the revelations for other readers, although a few, such as this one, stood out: "One generally does not ask someone who is tripping a question and expect a coherent answer."  

The adventure takes place in Boston as Malone, a junior in college, and two friends decide to pop some acid, visit the Museum of Fine Art and then head for a theater to see "The Lion King" in 3-D. As one might expect, the adventures take on a life of their own once the drugs kick in (in particular, their experience in the museum bathroom was a hoot). By the time they got to the movie, I'd giggled out loud several times. Watching it brought the trio even more insights (although I suspect seeing Rafiki about to throw Simba off that cliff in 3-D would have that effect on me even without the drugs). 

Then, on what I believe was a Monday morning sidewalk (with a day-after nod to Kris Kristofferson), there's the coming back down; it's complete with an awareness of what was real, what wasn't, and - what the book really is about - self discovery. Knowing that Malone graduated from college a couple of years ago (apparently in one piece) and clearly - to me, at least - is an accomplished writer, I'd say he's put what he learned to good use. 

A Trip Down Reality Lane by Ian Thomas Malone (Limitless Publishing LLC, February 2015); 184 pp.

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