The Mad Artist Review Excerpts

From Leaf Fielding, author of To Live Outside the Law

This book is a significant addition to the canon of psychedelic literature. Roger Keen has pulled off a remarkable feat in his novelistic memoir , set in the second half of the seventies. His descriptions of the visuals and of the fractured, frantic and inspired thought processes of the LSD experience are brilliant. They sparkle all over.

And Keen is a brave man too, an adventurer of the mind who, though sometimes terrified by the substances he's dabbling in, returns doggedly to them in his quest for enlightenment.

Somehow he manages to convey that vertiginous feeling of having to grapple with the most important questions of life whilst being totally out of your skull, and out of your depth. This is a wonderful book. Inspiring, eloquent, sometimes grueling... but then enlightenment doesn't come cheap.

From William J Booker, author of Trippers 

The whole story is a delight from beginning to end. He describes his exploits on and off campus, the sex, the trials and politics of student life, a trip to a Stonehenge festival, crazy nights in and out with best friend Henry. There is a thread running through the narrative dealing with 'Geometric Progressions' (Keen's term for his spiritual development) that leads to some very interesting musings and conclusions towards the end. Read the full review

From Rob Dickins, Editor in Chief The Psychedelic Press UK

The Mad Artist is everything a memoir should be for the reader; a glimpse into the emotional, spiritual and social growth of an individual and yet not alienating through whimsy and self-indulgence. Keen uses the psychedelic experience as a beautiful craft through which the elements of his life have been magnified and threaded. It is a textual empathogen, wherein flashes of thought and circumstance entrench you in the text. Read the full review

From Noel Megahey, Reviewer at The Digital Fix

Vigorously and actively trying to get to grips with what we understand by reality and the world around us through mind-altering drugs, art, literature, philosophy, music, cinema and ultimately, writing, The Mad Artist is a dazzling, intelligent and ambitious quest to cut through conventional ways of looking at the world that ultimately yields impressive and potentially life-changing results. A resounding success on every level. Read the full review

From Daniel Manning, author of No Compatibility

The Mad Artist reads like a shopping list of all the illicit substances available on the streets (London, Paris, New York) no Boscombe! One wonders how rowdy it got in those days, with all those retired types also sharing the buzz, perhaps, living by the seaside. I enjoyed details of the trip using the pure chemical where the voices were heard... Comforting to read about all this in the safety of a book, especially for those who have never experimented with drugs. And comforting if you have experimented but just now want the quiet life, so I can see loads of potential in The Mad Artist.

From S. C. Thompson, author of Viene La Tormenta

All too often altered states and the compounds that reveal them are cast in negativity, with heavy retribution and squandered lives the accepted wisdom on the outcome of their use. You dispel that myth with your cogent recollections of expanded awareness; demonstrating the positive, sometimes silly, ever fascinating, oft-times soul liberating and empathy inducing effects of these useful and liberating substances. It's a viewpoint and experience that needs to be shared, so that all who get high are not viewed as social derelicts unable to cope with the hard realities of life as we have come to know it.

From Liz S

I loved this book. Loved living a dissolute youth vicariously, yet safely tucked up in bed, through its pages. His description of altered states is the best I've read. I was there; I was euphoric, confident, more fascinated by the world... and I was terrified at times too. It made me realise that given the chance back then I would have taken most of these drugs and most likely have made myself ill. So it was good to experience it at last and put to bed that demon regret of not having had a misspent youth, but then neither have I had the "enlightenment" which would seem to have been an absolute positive throughout the rest of his life. I admired his honesty about himself as he didn't always come over as 'very nice'. Incongruously this made me trust him; trust the book.

If you've ever wondered what taking drugs is really like read this book.

From Dartmoor Dave

Running throughout the book is the story of a friendship of two young men from Plymouth as they start on their adult lives at art college and university in the watershed years of the mid 1970s. Through them the reader experiences their quest for knowledge and the meaning of the life unfolding before them. They embark on a journey of discovery using LSD, cannabis and hallucinogenic mushrooms to open the 'doors of perception' and aid their quest to answer the philosophical questions that they grapple with. Their powerful drug experiences make them begin to question the nature of reality itself as they witness the bizarre and surreal twisting of their perceptions of shape, colour, sound and time. Roger's writing ability is so well tuned to these experiences that he is able to paint a vivid picture to the reader that unpeels a glimpse of this altered world.

For anybody wanting an insight into drug culture in student life in the 1970s, its links with eastern religion and philosophy, and a thoroughly entertaining journey of discovery of life as a young student, then this book is as relevant today as it was back in those more optimistic days.

 Copyright © 2004-21 Roger Keen. All Rights Reserved.