Lets start with the truth!
This is not an easy read, and if you're looking for an uplifting book, this is probably not the choice for you, but what it is, is an incredibly raw emotional book which takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, and leaves you feeling almost drained from its intensity.
Without taking anything away from the story, you read the foreword to find that the author committed suicide after writing this book and that his father thinks that Leaving Las Vegas was his sons suicide note to the world, this makes it all the more powerful, as you draw parallels between the lead protaganist and O'Brien, feeling the depths of his despair.
The lead character is worn down by life, having split from his wife and family, he drinks to escape reality, having finally lost his job because of his drinking, he scrapes together every penny he can lay his hand on and makes the move to Vegas to drink himself to death. On arrival he meets prostitute Sara, and together they strike up an unlikely touching and tender but ultimately doomed relationship.
He helps her to see something better, whilst she can't stop the wheels he has already set in motion, and you know the story will end in his death. John O brien doesn't try to be trite by giving this story a happy ending, but you do have the hope that Sara will make something better fo her life after his death. I actually cried at the end, something I've never done before at a book.
One word of warning, there is a rape scene in the book which almost seemed to come out of nowhere and was particularly disturbing to read, but also exemplifies O'Briens skills as a writer and his loss to the literary world.