Sunday, May 2, 2010

(Book #16) Hunter S. Thompson - Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Perhaps it is apropos that I finished reading Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a mere week before actually going to Vegas myself. The book opens suitably on the open road, Highway 15, between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as so many trips to Sin City often start. This is where we meet our drug-addled pair of characters, a version of Thompson himself and his nameless Samoan attorney, driving wildly in a red convertible towards their destination. The duo are on some sort of wild journey of which the impetus is established, but the driving force behind their story is indistinguishable through all the mad ravings and cringe worthy actions. When it is eventually revealed it's still unclear if they can be taken seriously at all, if they are really searching for meaning of the American Dream, or if that is just where they happened to land when the dust finally settled.

Thompson writes in a style all of his own , something he calls "Gonzo Journalism". It resides somewhere between journalism and fiction, which according to him should be, and in most cases are, indistinguishable. Regardless, the writing style of Thompson is all his own and unabashed in its bizarre sincerity. Fear and Loathing at its root is about the drug culture of the early 70's, but also illustrates the socio-political landscape of the Post-Vietnam, anti-drug Nixon Era. Some chapters in the book clearly reflect Thompson's opinions of these subjects, while others leave the reader struggling to find context or reason within the alienating, albeit very funny at times, madness. It is also worth noting the fantastic Ralph Steadman illustrations speckled throughout the book, giving some graphic representations of some of the more vivid and disturbing imagery.

In responding to the reading as a whole, I would say that it was a different but certainly entertaining read. Not having a whole lot of knowledge about the author, his work or his character, this book has left me a little intrigued about him as a person or his other writings, but I suspect Hunter S. Thompson is someone best handled in small doses.

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