“These poor bastards didn’t know mescaline from macaroni.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey into the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson.
For my complete and utter lack of exposure to drugs, I find myself certainly fascinated by drug culture, especially in literature. Perhaps it’s merely my fascination with the rambling stream-of-consciousness it tends to produce and a curiosity of how much of it is genuine brilliance or utter rambling bullshit, but I really enjoy the glimpse into the addled mind and the incredible things it can produce. There’s an urgency to the writing, a franticness that gets me wired up almost as much as I had taken the drugs myself (and I’m always left wondering just how the experience would leave me if I was all hopped up on something). Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the quintessential hallucinogenic journeys into the psyche, “the best book of the dope decade,” as The New York Times Book Review states on the back cover. It’s one of those books people rave about that I finally managed to get around to reading, even if only to just say that I’ve actually read it.
Whether or not I enjoyed it is something I’m still a little on the fence about. The writing was knee-jerk and fantastic, with a voice that I enjoyed, but I’m always left feeling a little out of the loop with a book like this, since I can’t relate to it personally. It’s an objective work for me, distant and appreciated from the view of an outsider. There’s also no real strong “point” to the book (which may just as well be the point), something I like to call “Coen Brothers Syndrome,” which I don’t really mind, but it reminds me of my boyfriend always feeling so blase about the Coen Brothers movies that I love because “there’s just no point. No one learns anything. Nothing really happens.” And it’s true, nothing much really happens besides a lot of drugs and running around in the pursuit of the next high, but it’s still a fascinating glimpse into a small slice of a weekend, with a very particular character doing things that he does.
There were definitely times when Fear and Loathing got under my skin, and I suppose that right there is the point. It gets injected into your veins and lingers about like a drug might. It was a nice ride while I was on it, but, thankfully, it didn’t get me enough to leave me addicted. I was born well after the era and I’ve never been a part of the scene, but I can still appreciate the small taste of it. I just think I’ll leave the drug-fueled ramblings to those that know it much better than me.
Books read: 008/100.
Fantastic review, I’ve always wanted to read this, but never gave it a shot. Think I’ll pick it up after this review. Thanks for sharing, L.S.
What do you remember the most from the book? A particular scene, or character?
I think it’s definitely worth a venture, though I can’t exactly see it on an “Essentials” list from me. It’s also hard to pin-point a favorite scene or character; it’s all sort of one big blur, which suits the theme. I really enjoyed the latter half of the book more, though, as I realize my favorite parts are all there: the DEA conference they sneak into, the trouble with Lucy, and a really excellent diner scene that I just thought was well done. Nothing really stood out as something that would stick with me for a good, long time, though. As ephemeral as the drugs themselves, I guess.