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In the House of My Fear
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In the House of My Fear

by Joel Agee
 

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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. Thirty years later

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. Thirty years later a sobered Joel Agee sets himself the task of recounting his adventures. He begins as a memoirist, but the truth he is seeking is not just that of memory. This book is a rescue mission — to find the ghosts of his past he must write his way into the house of his fear.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593761080
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
05/28/2006
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
966,733
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are Saying About This

Peter Fenner
"With lucid, poetic realism, this book chronicles a harrowing journey into . . . a hell from which many people never return."
author of The Edge Of Certainty
Erik Wensberg
"So rich in incident, so vividly told, and often so buoyantly funny, Agee's miraculous book soars beyond glib classification."
co-author of Modern American Usage
Robert Coles
"Here is the proverbial "fear and trembling" become an instrument of exploration, reflection. Grateful readers will cherish this work."
author of The Mind's Fate
Andrei Codrescu
"A truly great book. This may even be that book of the Sixties we've always complained couldn't be written."
author of Wakefield
Siri Hustvedt
"Formally daring, ruthlessly honest, and written in limpid, expressive prose, [this book] explodes the clichés and conventions of most non-fiction."
author of What I Loved
Jamaica Kincaid
"This voluptuously rendered account of a life lived with . . . unbounded curiosity . . . is among the most wonderful memoirs I've ever read."
author of Lucy
Morris Dickstein
"An unclassifiable work, hugely ambitious, exasperatingly self-conscious, but also, at its best, piercingly eloquent and intelligent. No ordinary memoir . . ."

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