What a marvelous surprise lurking beneath the cover of this one. AsEverWas, by Hammond Guthrie is a trip to hipster Mecca, but this book is disguised as something else entirely. Guthrie is laying down something really valuable, because this book is something you’re probably unprepared for, living as we are in pre-packaged, fast-food times. This book is heartfelt and enjoyable just because.
Unlike a staggering, name-dropping, list of counterculture glitterati, Guthrie’s tome reads mostly like a heartfelt memoir that recounts a once magical time as remembered by an authentic member of the tribe. Tripping through southern California (literally, as an acid-test attendee), setting up boho camp in North Beach and rubbing literary shoulders with the likes of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Hube ‘the cube’ Leslie, and Gregory Corso, Guthrie sets a drug-addled course for whereabouts unknown, namely swinging, sixties England and Amsterdam. All the while aspiring to become a member of the art sophisticate crowd, while perpetually dancing along the fringes, Guthrie has perhaps been saved by not achieving these perceived absolute heights. Achieving said heights might have inhibited his truth-telling genes, and we are thankful that he continually grounds his narrative in precisely articulated details that make his odyssey likable, enjoyable, and ultimately grippingly real. Guthrie is an accomplished storyteller indeed, and his psychedelic journey (prefaced as it is with the cautionary aside that describes what nearly became his suicidal end) leads us to a spot in the middle of some familiar woods surrounded by friends whom we’ve never even met.
Therein lies the art of Guthrie’s book.