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Open City editor Pinchbeck's book debut is a polemic that picks up the threads that Huxley's The Doors of Perception, Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters and counterculture idealism left in the culture. Charting his gradual transformation from a cynical New York litterateur to psychedelic acolyte, Pinchbeck uses elements of travelogue, memoir, entheobotany (the study of god-containing plants) and historical research to ask why these doorways of the mind have been unceremoniously sealed, sharing Walter Benjamin's melancholy about the exasperating nature of consumerism: We live in a culture where everything tastes good but nothing satisfies. Pinchbeck travels the earth in search of spiritual awakening through tripping, from Gabon to the Nevada desert. At happenings like the Burning Man festival or a plant conference in the Ecuadorean jungle, Pinchbeck meets modern shamans and tells their stories as they intersect with his. In his reporting, he manages to walk a difficult tonal tightrope, balancing his skepticism with a desire to be transformed. He thoughtfully surveys the literature about psychedelic drugs, but the most exhilarating and illuminating sections are the descriptions of drug taking: he calls this visiting the spirit world, which is like a cosmic bureaucracy employing its own PR department, its own off-kilter sense of dream-logic and humor...constantly playing with human limitations, dangling possibilities before our puny grasps at knowledge. There's little new drug lore here, but Pinchbeck's earnest, engaged and winning manner carry the book.