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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, Hunter S. Thompson

In an attempt to get culturally on-line, I decided to rectify a missing portion of influential pop culture in the form of the guru of gonzo, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I realized that I had been missing something when I started noticing several biographies on Thompson on the bookstore shelves. If he’s being bio’ed, I thought to myself, that must mean he’s dead, or as good as. If the account in Fear and Loathing is anywhere near that fickle creature called truth, chances are he’s been as good as dead for years now.

Fear and Loathing is a cultural artifact, an attempt to tell things as they were in the early 70s, to be totally realistic about the journalistic process, in a true post-modern manner (that is, not separating the teller from the tale). Unfortunately–or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint–it’s tough to be totally realistic when you’re always strung out on: (take your pick) cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamines, ether, LSD, and numerous other mind-altering substances. As a reader, you find the constant drug taking a little tiring after awhile, not in a bored sense, but in a sense of amazement at how anyone could punish their body so.

And the reader is punished somewhat here as well, although when Thompson is funny–as when he and his attorney convince a podunk lawman from Atlanta that drugs are out (crime wise) in L.A., and that the real problem now is satanic rituals–he’s found a style and medium that emphasizes and broadens the humor. And I can’t say that I didn’t like that style–I went out and bought The Great Shark Hunt after finishing this.

[Finished 28 May 1993]


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