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 soulsÂ 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 AgeeÂ now the author of the widely reviewed memoir, Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East GermanyÂ sets himself the task of recounting his adventures.