In the House of My Fear

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In the spring of 1964, Joel Agee, not quite at home in his native New York (having spent much of his boyhood and youth behind the Iron Curtain), accidentally ingests a sizeable dose of LSD. All at once he is thrown from the precincts of bohemian normalcy into a whirl of bizarre synchronicities, symbols and omens. Nothing is ever the same again. His brilliant, mentally ill younger brother is descending into a psychic netherworld without chemical inducement, and the culture at large, not to be outdone for surreal ...
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Overview


In the spring of 1964, Joel Agee, not quite at home in his native New York (having spent much of his boyhood and youth behind the Iron Curtain), accidentally ingests a sizeable dose of LSD. All at once he is thrown from the precincts of bohemian normalcy into a whirl of bizarre synchronicities, symbols and omens. Nothing is ever the same again. His brilliant, mentally ill younger brother is descending into a psychic netherworld without chemical inducement, and the culture at large, not to be outdone for surreal extremeness, is undergoing a mutation of its own: apocalypse and utopia appear to be equally imminent.
A small inheritance comes Joel’s way. Together with his wife and their infant daughter, he emigrates in search of kindred souls—a picaresque journey that takes him through Spain, England, Italy, Switzerland, and France. On the way, a fantastic project takes root in his imagination: to exorcize his brother’s madness by transforming his own consciousness, first with "acid," then in a quest for enlightenment under the tutelage of spiritual teachers. Thirty years later, a sobered Joel Agee—now the author of the widely reviewed memoir, Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany—sets himself the task of recounting his adventures.
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Editorial Reviews

O Magazine
"Daring, beautiful, and deeply satisfying, as when we find ourselves in the presence of someone who tells the absolute truth."
January, 2005
Publishers Weekly
Born in New York City in 1940, Agee (son of writer James Agee and author of Twelve Years) spent much of his childhood in East Germany with his mother; half-brother; and German Communist expatriate stepfather, Bodo Uhse. After 12 years, Agee's mother divorced Uhse and took her two sons back to New York. Agee dabbled in various jobs, always aware that one day, he'd be a writer. He landed in New York's East Village in the mid-'60s, when the pot and LSD scene was taking off. Once Agee came into a small inheritance, he and his lover, Susan, left for Europe. They wandered the European hippie trail, forming impromptu communes, as Agee ingested vast quantities of LSD and sampled assorted religions. Susan finally had enough and took their daughter back to the States. Alas, here's where Agee's sharp, precise descriptions of growing up as a Cold War baby and grooving as a '60s hippie end. Agee stayed abroad and yielded to madness, which culminated in a full-scale breakdown in London in 1971. Accosting strangers to tell them he's God, reading street signs as divine messages, Agee's demons demanded he suffer to redeem the world. Readers suffer, too, wading through hundreds of pages of Agee's nightmares and hallucinations. By the end, when Agee explains that this book is about "getting lost and finding the way back," readers may be too exhausted to care. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
At one point in Agee's memoir, he makes reference to the two faces of the Roman deity Janus, one looking to the past, the other to what may be ahead: an apt symbol for this book. Agee's absent father was the prize-winning author and critic James Agee. Raised by his mother, Alma, and his German stepfather, Bodo Uhse (also a prize-winning author), Agee moved with the couple to Mexico in 1941, when he was one year old. Thus began an odyssey that would take him to East and West Germany, France, Cuba, England, Spain, and back to Brooklyn, his current home. Along the way, he would encounter the FBI, his wife, their daughter, his half-brother, two gurus, and another self with whom he had spirited conversations. Also playing a role in Agee's odyssey: astral projection, marijuana, LSD, speed, existentialism, Buddhism, and a heraldic lion. His nonsequential narrative may confuse-even vex-but its content and style are well wedded. The book's defiant insouciance vividly and truly reflects the Sixties, extending Agee's earlier achievement, Twelve Years. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593761080
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2005

    A Masterpiece

    Joel Agee has written a memoir-masterpiece, which, in its originality and interest rivals that of his father's 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.' What James Agee did for America of the 1930's, Joel has done for the 1960's. No one who has lived through the so-called 'Hippie revolution' can afford to miss reading this brilliantly written autobiography/novel which goes to the very heart of a key period in American history and illuminates it 'from within.' This is a work which should be widely read--and appreciated. It also happens to be a page-turner!

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