"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson (1971)
"'Look,' I said, 'You'd better put that goddamn blade away and get your head straight. I have to put the car in the lot.' I was backing slowly towards the door. One of the things you learn, after years of dealing with drug people, is that everything is serious. You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug - especially when it's waving a razor-sharp hunting knife in your eyes."
Hunter S. Thompson was a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. He was a pioneer of "gonzo journalism," a style of reportage in which the journalist forfeits all claims to objectivity. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the most popular example of this type of writing.
In the book, Thompson and his partner in crime journey to Las Vegas, ostensibly for the purpose of covering a dune buggy race, and later attending a convention of drug enforcement officers. But really their purpose is to do as many drugs as they can during their stay in that city. Marijuana, cocaine, mescaline, adrenochrome, uppers, downers, ether - they do it all.
Beyond that, there's not much to say about this book, save for the fact that it's been adapted into film twice, once by Terry Gilliam, and a decade or so earlier as part of a movie featuring Bill Murray. I think the Gilliam version was very faithful to the book. I haven't seen the Bill Murray version, but I do remember a friend who raved about it. Maybe that one is even better?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is funny, it's an easy read, and if you feel that you're stuck in a rut as far as reading material goes I would recommend it. It's not as deep as Kerouac is (or pretends to) be, but it's a fun ride and it left me wanting more.
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