by Aleister Crowley
Crowley, denounced as “the wickedest man in the world” by some contemporaries, was an early 20th-century occultist, philosopher, and writer who apparently got off on ruffling societal feathers. Diary, Crowley’s first novel, chronicles a year in the life of young Peter Pendragon, heir to a fortune who discovers two things in life that seem worthy of his love: heroin and a girl named Lou. In a wild journey that might make Hunter S. Thompson envious, Peter and Lou cross Europe in a heroin- and cocaine-fueled daze, crash back to earth, and are rescued by the charismatic “King Lamus,” the proponent of a religion called Thelema.
Diary is dated, bogged down by purple prose and – for anyone who’s read Bret Easton Ellis – not particularly shocking. And yet, despite Crowley’s florid writing and the mothball-like feel of events, the novel does raise provocative questions. Per this “wicked” author, life is full of paradoxes, happiness is something you must work at, and you should always be true to yourself.
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