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Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,522 Ratings  ·  255 Reviews
Fariña evokes the Sixties as precisely, wittily, and poignantly as F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the Jazz Age. The hero, Gnossus Pappadopoulis, weaves his way through the psychedelic landscape, encountering-among other things-mescaline, women, art, gluttony, falsehood, science, prayer, and, occasionally, truth.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 29th 1996 by Penguin Classics (first published April 1966)
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Michelle The Doors song derives from the book. Spy in the House of Love comes from an Anais Nin novella.

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There are two big things this book had working in its favor before I even cracked open Richard Fariña's under-appreciated final gem: The Pynchon connection (which is was what nudged me in the direction of this novel in the first place, albeit more than a year after "Gravity's Rainbow" mournfully introduced me to Fariña) and my own probably-over-romanticized-at-this-point affinity for my college experience, with Pynchon's intro (which includes an obligatory kazoo-choir reference!) being, of cours ...more
Paul Bryant
May 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, novels
Smirky superior hectoring hipster cultivates cringemaking condescension, bullying braggadocio and sexual sneering in wearisome war on straight society. I really would have liked our protohippy hero Gnossos Pappadopoulis to die of a drug overdose around page seven but he didn’t. Could be Gnossos is actually Holden Caulfield on acid. That would account for my immediate and total hatred of him.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Richard Farina is something of a role model to me. If I could model my life after his I would - all except the dying in a motorcycle accident two days after my first novel is published. But besides this I would like to:

1. release acoustic driven music with my beautiful girlfriend/wife

2. Publish a novel centered around a smooth-talking, fast-living, drug-ingesting protagonist named Gnossos (yes, that's right his name is Gnossos and you don't even wanna know his last name)

3. Participate in campus
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picking this up seems like a very logical progression from Stone Junction: both mystical journeys, both introduced by Thomas Pynchon, both books I remember loving a decade ago but don't really remember.

I'm a little nervous re-reading this, because it shines in my mind as one of the best things I ever read, and I certainly don't want to prove that untrue. But I'm sure it's as amazing as I remember it, right? Right????

Spoiler: wrong.

This past summer I went to a "Summer of Love" exhib
Nov 16, 2007 rated it did not like it
This is the worst book I have ever read. Yes, it's trippy, but it's also sexist as hell, sensationalist, and extremely pretentious -- in both style and matter. It's counter-culture in all the stupid ways -- oooh, drug-taking is awesommmmeeee man -- and not critical of the protagonist, whose name actually means "knowledge," as he acts on the same base prejudices that make mainstream culture so rotten. A hands-down trash book.
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
When I read that Pynchon was best buds with Fariña and that this novel had a setting at Cornell, I was interested. However much Pynchon loved the guy, this is not particularly good writing. Think the drugs are a little harder to work around for some folks. Fariña was lucky that he had a great, nourishing friendship in a gorgeous, bucolic setting. His immortality is not guaranteed with this work.
Peter Tillman
Someone recommended this book as the quintessential novel of the 1960s. Well, I found it a confused mess, and didn't get far before giving up. The protagonist is a drunken college student and con-man who is remarkably unlikeable. Nothing that he does goes well. Including the sex. Or the drugs. Anyway, I read a chapter or two, then started skimming, until it became clear that I pretty much hated the book. Not for me!
Dec 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sixties/Beat/youthquake historians
Recommended to Kirk by: some dude trying to sell me weed in 1983 (I didn't buy-promise)
Well, if you ever want proof of how sixties totems don't really age well, this is the book for you. The cult following has been long if somewhat subterranean, its duration due in part to the unfortunate circumstance of its author dying in a motorcycle accident only a couple dozen hours after its publication (and only a few months before the mythological motorcycle accident of Farina's "brother-in-law," Bob Dylan). It also helps your literary endurance to have gone to Cornell with both Thomas Pyn ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me – the title is already a pure poetry. And everything that you may find inside is thoroughly innovative and absolutely and fantastically postmodern. Not for nothing Thomas Pynchon dedicated his Gravity's Rainbow to Richard Fariña.
“We mistake induction for generation.”
Mankind is on the wrong as usual. And on the quest to find the meaning, hiking through the psychedelic landscapes, one may find instead human meanness without limits.
Ryan Chapman
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Probably nobody
This is my hands-down, desert-island favorite novel, and like all favorite novels, my own adoration is rooted in such particular tastes I understand why very few of my friends like the book.

Farina was a successful folk musician, playing with his wife Mimi Baez and touring with Bob Dylan and her sister Joan in the 60s. The Cuban-Irish author was also a published poet, and wasn't known for his fiction until this novel, his first and last. Three days after its publication, Farina was killed in a m
Paul Secor
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this in the late sixties and wasn't impressed back then. I first experienced Richard Farina as a mediocre singer and songwriter, and his fiction writing fell into the same category. I guess that much of his reputation rests on his good looks and his early death in a motorcycle accident - also his friendship with Thomas Pynchon. None of which has anything to do with good writing.
I have no desire to reread this. I'll trust my early memories.
This is what On The Road would/could have been if Kerouac had A) been a much better writer, and B) had more complex attitudes about stuff like race and gender. Another winner from Pynchon.
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I would like to think that attitudes have evolved since this book first appeared in 1966. Certainly I would like to think my own have evolved since I first read it decades ago. Re-reading it now, it is as misogynistic as I remember.

So why did I re-read it in 2018, while the #MeToo movement continues to make the news? Partly for Thomas Pynchon's introduction to the novel, and partly for the pleasure of Farina's style. Like much of Pynchon's work, Farina's writing here is a poetry of hip (for 1966
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cult_books
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me is one of those novels like Naked Lunch that seems to have been written in a drug-induced frenzy. Though the word frenzy might suggest speed, it took Richard Fariña over five years to write this book. Sometimes I think that all would be revealed if I got high before reading it, sort of like getting high before a Grateful Dead concert. God knows it drags when you're straight and sober.

The main character, Gnossos Pappadopoulis, has long been cited as the mi
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Like, I imagine, many people who read this book, I picked it up because Thomas Pynchon dedicated Gravity’s Rainbow to its author and, when I looked him up on the Internet, it seemed he was an interesting character and it might be worth reading a book by him. The fact that this was his first novel and that he was killed in a motorcycle accident just two days after its publication just adds to the mystery and myth that surrounds Farina.

But, if truth be told, this book has little to recommend it to
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
After attending a book signing party for "Been Down So Long..." Richard Farina climbed onto a guest's motorcycle to attend his wife's birthday party, but he was killed in an accident before arriving. Though his wife had been upset with him at the signing because he had failed to get her a present, she returned home days after his death to find the apart they had shared filled with flowers he'd arranged to have delivered.
Much like these forgotten blooms, Farina's sole novel should be considered
Jun 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: College guys
I am convinced that Farina could have become a really good novelist. However, his first and only outing has many shortcomings. Farina has a very unique writing style, not unlike Pynchon, except whereas Pynchon writes about rockets and science, Farina writes about drugs, women, and Greek food. He has an entertaining shwagger in his writing style, but I constantly felt that parts and stylings were contrived and awkward. He tries too hard appealing to ambiguity, and it leaves a lot of plot confusio ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Zippo Bang! Wayward university student Gnossos Pappadopoulis returns to school after an absence that is the subject of many rumors, steals figures from the campus nativity scene, smokes great quantities of marijuana, trips on mescaline, falls in love, incites a campus riot and goes to the Cuban Revolution.

I enjoyed this book so much that I will read it more than once-possibly even annually. My first exposure to this book was in the summer of 1975 when I found it in my big brother's book case. H
Read this at a particularly poignant time in my young college life. Lots happened during the 1978 through 1982 time period that I can relate exceptionally well with this writer and this particular book. Right up there with "The Graduate" and "The Crying of Lot 49" -- both kind of coming-of-age books read at the same time as "David Copperfield." What struck me as particularly ironic was the fact that the author, Richard Farina, died in a freak motorcycle accident a few days after this book was pu ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 60-s-beat
Richard Farinña's style is upbeat, frantic, surreal and unpredictable. It actually told a story, had a narrative of some sort, and that was surprising. I overall enjoyed the book, but I am aware that the style is not for everyone. I especially liked it because it has a resonance with my own writing style, this Kerouac-ian adversity to full stops. I admittedly lost track whenever there was a conversation going on in the novel, as Fariña is faithful to the characters egoistic dispositions, and has ...more
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
A campus novel - a great voice, husband to Mimi (Joan Baez's little sis)and college pal of Pynchon. Great stuff - like a literary animal house, hip, clear-eyed, quick, maybe Kerouac's kid brother - both Ivy League btw.
Harrison Phinney
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overflowing with life and the undeniable, incendiary energy of its period. Unfortunate that we didn't get more work from Fariña before his untimely death.
Patrick Wensink
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the most fun books I've read in a long while. Part blueprint for Animal House/part homage to Farina's famous buddy, Thomas Pynchon. It's a shame this was his only book.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
1st from fariña for me...paperback...the intro from pynchon...1966...

a dedication: this one is for mimi

this follows:
"i must soon quit the scene..."
benjamin franklin
in a letter to george washington
march 5, 1780

a contents pages...21 chapters...begins:

book the first
to athene then.

young gnossos pappadopoulis, furry pooh bear, keeper of the flame, voyaged back from the asphalt seas of the great wasted land: oh highways u.s. 40 and unyielding 66, i am home to the glacier-gnawed gorges, the fingers of
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beware the monkey demon (and never EVER use those salad tongs again)!
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
It reads like every psychedelic rock song of the era - "Tomorrow Never Knows," "Rainy Day Women Numbers 12 & 35," "She's A Rainbow," etc. - played endlessly on a loop until you cannot tell whether you're high or have a headache.

From an intellectual and historical perspective, I admire Farina's gift for writing and respect his story's place in hippie history. Many of the moments are as lyrical as the title, and I can imagine how radical if not first-of-its-kind the topics must have seemed to
Brad Spurgeon
Aug 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
After reading A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch it would be hard to find a book so diametrically opposed in style and in content. I enjoyed the Murdoch so much that getting into this one is more difficult. It too had been sitting on my shelves for decades (it's a fourth printing from Dell, 1968). But the more time I give it, the more rewarding it is becoming. It does strike me as probably being more outrageous at the time it came out than today. Dealing with university students, it's a sort of Brat ...more
Another one of those American writers who made a big splash when they came out and pushed literature in new directions (and was a major influence on Pynchon to boot), but who has largely been forgotten now. A lot of wacky counterculture-era lit comes off as obnoxious, juvenile, and self-important now (Tom Robbins, an unfortunately sizeable chunk of Burroughs' and Vonnegut's output), but Been Down So Long holds up. Like A Confederacy of Dunces, it's funny and picaresque enough to hold strong. Do ...more
M. Cornelis van der Weele IV
A gang of barely-defined magic hipsters engage in a miasmatic sequence of random encounters with one-dimensional antagonists while possibly suggesting that repeated sexual assaults are a perfectly acceptable way of keeping troublesome and high-spirited women in line. Redeemable only for providing a vague blueprint upon which Pynchon would spend the next seven years furiously improving and offering hope to struggling authors of every ilk that if this got published, they surely must have a shot as ...more
Nov 01, 2014 added it
DNF. Read the one star reviews here if you want to know why I stopped.
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Richard George Fariña was an American writer and folksinger.
With an Irish mother and a Cuban father, Farina was born a rebel. He grew up in Brooklyn, pre-revolutionary Cuba and Ireland. At 18 he was associated with members of the IRA, and was asked to leave Ireland. At Cornell University in the late fifties Farina was suspended for his part in a student protest, but was promptly reinstated when fe
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“we mistake induction for generation.” 2 likes
“god, they say, is love. and some one's got to pass the word.” 2 likes
More quotes…