Cover image for Outside looking in : a novel / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
Title:
Outside looking in : a novel / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
ISBN:
9780062882981
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2019]

©2019
Physical Description:
385 pages ; 24 cm
Abstract:
In 1943, LSD is synthesized in Basel. Two decades later, a coterie of grad students at Harvard are 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 free-wheeling exploration of mind expansion, group dynamics, and communal living. With his trademark humor and pathos, Boyle moves us through the Loneys' initiation at one of Leary's parties to his notorious summer seminars in Zihuatanejo until 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 devoting 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 is 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, re-invention, and self-discovery.-- Publisher's description.
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Summary

Summary

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 are 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 free-wheeling exploration of mind expansion, group dynamics, and communal living. With his trademark humor and pathos, Boyle moves us through the Loneys' initiation at one of Leary's parties to his notorious summer seminars in Zihuatanejo until 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 devoting 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 is 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, re-invention, and self-discovery.


Author Notes

T. C. Boyle was born Thomas John Boyle in Peekskill, New York on December 2, 1948. He received a B.A. in English and history from SUNY Potsdam in 1968, a MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974, and a Ph.D. degree in nineteenth century British literature from the University of Iowa in 1977. He has been a member of the English department at the University of Southern California since 1978.

He has written over 20 books including After the Plague, Drop City, The Inner Circle, Tooth and Claw, The Human Fly, Talk Talk, The Women, Wild Child, and When the Killing's Done. He has received numerous awards including the PEN/Faulkner Award for best novel of the year for World's End; the PEN/Malamud Prize in the short story for T. C. Boyle Stories; and the Prix Médicis Étranger for best foreign novel in France for The Tortilla Curtain. His title's Sam Miguel and The Harder They Caome made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography) T. Coraghessan Boyle is the best-selling author of "T.C. Boyle Stories," "Riven Rock," "The Tortilla Curtain," "Without a Hero," "The Road to Wellville," "East Is East," "If the River Was Whiskey," "World's End" (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award), "Greasy Lake," "Budding Prospects," "Water Music," & "Descent of Man" (all available from Penguin). His fiction regularly appears in major American magazines, including "The New Yorker," "GQ," "The Paris Review," "Playboy," & "Esquire." He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Boyle (The Terranauts) returns with a satisfying, if overlong take on Timothy Leary's LSD studies from the early 1960s. After a brief explanation of LSD's discovery in a Swiss laboratory in 1943, the novel leaps forward to center on Fitz Loney, a Harvard psychology graduate student, and his wife, Joanie, in 1962. They join Harvard professor Leary's inner circle of hallucinogenic test subjects and researchers who are working to develop therapeutic methods of employing the drug. To avoid employer interference, Leary relocates his study to Mexico. Fitz and Joanie tag along, frequently trip, and sexually experiment with others, but caught in the middle is the couple's teenage son, Corey, who gradually isolates himself from his parents. After Harvard fires Leary, he moves his group to an estate in Upstate New York, where Fitz theoretically works on his thesis while Joanie loses faith in the cause; she and Fitz drift apart, and Corey realizes his own rebellious nature. While early chapters set the scene, the real ride begins when the scientific evaluations wane and the characters give themselves over to the drug. Though it takes its time hitting its stride, Boyle's novel picks up momentum and is an evocative depiction of the early days of LSD. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

An old pro with more than 25 novels and short story collections under his belt, Boyle (The Terranauts) typically focuses on an event or moment in history and gives us his own take. This time around he sets his sight on Timothy Leary and his psychedelic "experiments" at Harvard in the early to mid-Sixties. Struggling psychology PhD student Fitzhugh Loney and wife Joanie are drawn to Leary and begin attending the Saturday night "sessions" in which Leary and his inner circle conduct "research" on the effects of psilocybin mushrooms. Soon, they graduate to LSD, then decamp to Mexico and later Millbrook, NY, to explore the psychedelic counterculture and the ideas of group think and communal living. The arrangement begins to take a toll on Fitz, Joanie, and their son, Corey. Things get weird, lives get ruined, and readers are along for all the highs and lows. VERDICT While it may be hard to get behind many of the deeply flawed characters, there is much to learn and enjoy here, as Boyle takes us deep inside the lives of Leary and his convention-bashing acolytes, offering a brisk read that provides much food for thought. Boyle fans will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/18.]-Stephen Schmidt, Greenwich Lib. CT © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.