3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: My take on things.
I actually bought this copy for a freind to give as the 'Secret Santa' at work! I have had my own copy for years. Well, what can I say? On the surface, a madcap and very funny adventure for two good ol' boys but beneath, an accurate and insightful commentary on post 1960's America. Thompson captures the spirit of the age perfectly, with of course, the viewpoint of the...
Published on 18 Jan. 2010 by Paul Cushion
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FINE STORYTELLING, BAD STORY
I’ve always wondered at the admiration and downright love people whose opinion I respect express for Hunter S. Thompson. Even in my 20s, I thought he epitomized 1970s selfism, and my bias certainly wasn’t going to moderate as I aged. A month ago, I was at a wake for an RAF Squadron Commander who flew at the Battle of Britain and was talking to a couple of...
Published 5 months ago by T. F. Wells
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: My take on things.,
I actually bought this copy for a freind to give as the 'Secret Santa' at work! I have had my own copy for years. Well, what can I say? On the surface, a madcap and very funny adventure for two good ol' boys but beneath, an accurate and insightful commentary on post 1960's America. Thompson captures the spirit of the age perfectly, with of course, the viewpoint of the counterculture. In my opinion, this is HST at his very best; making the incredible, seem credible and even though he describes the craziest of behaviour you cannot fail to take this man very seriously. HST is quite prophetic in his thoughts about where America is going during the 1970's and beyond. The book does tail off mid way through, but picks up again quickly.
The only part of the book that I don't like, is where HST describes his attorney abusing and intimidating a lady who works in a diner on the outskirts of 'Vegas. In my opinion, it was unneccesary and tarnishes the great respect and admiration that I had for both charachters up until that point. Whilst parts of the story are in fact geuinely true, I like to think that this part is fiction as I would hate to think that HST would do nothing in such a circumstance, even whilst high or drunk.
On first reading this book, back in the 1990's, I remember laughing out loud even in public, upon the turn of almost every other page and conversely, I often felt quite sad for HST as he reflects upon the promises and hopes of the 1960's, which by that time were dashed. This is the kind of book that you can keep and cherish forever and I often find myself picking it up and just reading a few paragraphs or pages for inspiration. If you have only enough credit or cash to buy just one book today, buy this. I don't think that you will regret it, especially if you have a leaning towards the counterculture, have an interest in the 1960's or simply want to get some new ideas and inpiration. If you are a square however, maybe this book is not for you?
....or maybe it is just what you need?!
Reading the book now, I often feel quite sad as it is clear that with the way the USA is going today as well as the world in general, we all need to hear what Hunter has to say more than ever. RIP Hunter. You were the greatest.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beer and Clothing In West Bowling,
Drugs, eh? They've done their share of harm I suppose, but, like alcohol, seem intrinsically linked to the world of art. Certainly the sort I like, anyhow. And they don't necessarily have to be on about booze or whatever all the time, a la Bukowski, take Beckett for example. Where would F. Scott Fitzgerald have been without a drink or two? Lou Reed without heroin? And I don't believe for a second that the drug, whatever it is, is actually the catalyst for such people, just that they are of a certain sensibility, sensitivity, even, which requires an anaesthetic of some sort. After all, there are a good many more alcoholics and drug addicts who never made anything but a mess. And a very strange man with a rude shape drawn on his forehead staring through my living room window right now.
What I don't get is how Hunter S. could possibly have taken as much stuff as he claims to have and still remember the events detailed herein. Either he had a superhuman capacity or embroidered somewhat (and just picture him actually embroidering!). But then his work isn't so much merely about 'look how much drugs I took' in the fashion of some rock star hagiography, as a challenge to the Great American Way of Life and the 'value' system it espouses, Las Vegas in all its capitalist monstrousness being the epitome of such, style over content and money over everything. Hell on earth in the middle of the desert, further, a man made desert that nature in all it's raw screaming terror could never have conjured. The most disgusting place known to man and in went Hunter S. and they had the nerve to be shocked. He was the one overdoing things, behaving badly. We will rape and kill and crush and steal and lie but should you dare to speak out of turn and by god but you'll pay. Oh yes, and you can keep your wildebeest, old boy, I'm an antelope man myself. There is no other way. I was speaking to my neighbour about it just the other day, in fact, as he busily got about painting his hedge and I cut the fence back on my side. He looked up at me from his work and said, rather shouted, 'You know, Simon, don't you, that it's all been a dreadful mistake?' And I think I grasped his sense or something (he was mostly naked, after all, save for a rather fetching black brassiere). All right, so he got my name wrong. No reason to jump down the man's throat, though I probably could, considering the size thereof. It was the essence, the general feeling behind his utterance I had to judge him upon. The meaning he meant to mean, for want of a better hedgehog. What he was driving at. Just like Hunter.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A savage indictment of america - and the funniest book ever,
By far the most intelligent and funny book I've ever read. But it's so much more than that, it captures the polarization of cultures in america at the end of the sixties and many of the observations still ring true today. A brilliant satire, the drawings by Ralph Steadman complement the text wonderfully well.
My favourite quote: 'at one point I tried to drive the Great Red Shark into the laundry room of the Landmark Hotel - but the door was too narrow, and the people inside seemed dangerously excited'.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like a depth charge,
An amazingly odd book. The story is more like a list of drugs it's like a diary of two of the worst kind of drug addicts, its drugs, guns and dumb `fun', all rolled up in a car. The social commentary underlying all of this though is a stroke of genius, with the idea of an `American Dream' turning out to be a case of sheer dumb luck and aside from that it isn't even worth pursuing anyway.
The book gave me a strong feeling of `A Clockwork Orange' in the casual way in which the truly unsavoury acts are carried out. A detached feeling that what is quite shocking and abnormal in reality becomes completely normal in the frequency and off hand casual remarks made in the book. The way the book ends also mirrors `A Clockwork Orange' though in a more subtle way.
Well worth a read, oh and play Motorhead in the background to add to the atmosphere.
4.0 out of 5 stars Gonzo good fun!,
“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”
is one of my favourite opening lines in literature. Two paragraphs later are the equally brilliant lines:
“I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.”
That whole opening narration sets the tone of chaos and comedy told in a perfect deadpan that defines this book.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a modern classic of American literature and is the cause for untold numbers of irresponsible Vegas road trips.
Published in 1971, it tells the semi-true story of when Hunter S Thompson and Oscar Acosta (renamed here as Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo) went on a drug-fuelled road trip from LA to Vegas where Thompson was commissioned by Sports Illustrated to do a write-up on the Mint 400 motorcycle race in the desert.
The drugs they consume - marijuana, mescaline, all kinds of pills, cocaine, opiates, LSD, ether, and adrenochrome - lead to whacky adventures and surreal hallucinations as the pair barrel through a plotless non-story where they also cover a drug convention full of cops and go in search of The American Dream - or its corpse. Our anti-heroes learn nothing and have no character arcs - and it’s perfect!
I read Fear and Loathing some fifteen years ago when I was a teenager and remember devouring it in one go, laughing the whole time - it instantly became one of my favourite books. Years later, I’m glad to say it still holds up. I wouldn’t say it’s as intoxicating still, but it remains a terrific book and really funny to boot.
What’s most striking about Fear and Loathing is Thompson’s unique voice narrating with a loquacious urgency and an intelligently arresting, feverish, tone. It’s what makes this book so original. And that has to be stated: Fear and Loathing is ORIGINAL.
It’s said that there are seven basic plots in the world that get repeatedly used; so how do you get around that to create something new? Abandon plot altogether! Because, yes, there’s a kind of setup with the road trip and reporting, but nothing that could be concretely described as plot. Fear and Loathing careens around at high velocity though it’s aimless – and that’s fine because the book’s strength lies in Thompson’s unstoppable descriptive narration. The book also marked a shift from the author as the creator of the story to the author as the story.
And no, Fear and Loathing isn’t the first plotless novel or the first to feature the author as main character. It’s not the first to have a road trip or hallucinations feature prominently - I don’t mean it’s original in that sense. But there had never been a voice like Thompson’s before in literature - he’s the only reason this book is so much fun and so famous - and he would set a style that would be oft imitated for decades to come.
It’s also notable for being the first Gonzo book, meaning a blend of fiction, non-fiction, and fantasy. Cartoonist Ralph Steadman’s iconic line drawings capture the mania of Thompson’s potent writing and helped define Gonzo as a literary style.
But Fear and Loathing also has more traditional literary features, as befits a writer heavily influenced by Fitzgerald and Hemingway. The search for The American Dream, as abstract as it sounds, takes the form of the novel as well as a real place Duke and Gonzo go searching for – and turns out to be a long burned-out bar (heavy-handed symbolism, Thompson!).
The form of the novel could be seen as an indictment of the American Dream, post-idealistic ‘60s. There are snippets of news stories dropped into the text highlighting that ‘Nam was still ongoing, Nixon was in the White House and declared a “war on drugs” that persists today, people on drugs were killing others, and maybe Thompson wanted Duke and Gonzo to embody the America he saw in 1971: self-destructive, paranoid, and almost wilfully stupid.
Duke and Gonzo end up driving around in a white Cadillac Eldorado which Duke describes as “the White Whale” perhaps a nod to what is often described as “the Great American Novel”, Moby Dick. Are Duke and Gonzo the white whale themselves, elusive and hunted – is that what the “Fear and Loathing” of the title references? – or are they demented Ahabs, chasing the white whale of the American Dream?
While it has a lot of positives, I wouldn’t say Fear and Loathing is perfect. Certain skits like when Duke and Gonzo pretend to be undercover agents to the cleaning lady, or in the bar where Gonzo goes too far in soliciting a female bartender, were very unfunny and felt a bit dated. And, like the tail end of a bender, the novel starts to taper off towards the end and feels like its outstayed its welcome.
Make no mistake though: Fear and Loathing is an outstanding novel. Thompson’s irresistible voice is captured forever between the covers to entertain - and it is incredibly entertaining - for generations to come. Is it an important novel? I think there’s a case to be made for it being of minor literary import and I really think those first twenty pages or so could easily stand up to anything by Twain or Hemingway.
But for me, and probably for you, the real question is, is it a fun read? And it is. It’s so damn cool and sure of itself, the book swaggers! Pick this one up whenever you want to go on the greatest road trip ever.
No point mentioning some of the great scenes that await you inside - you’ll see them soon enough.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast, frenetic, and downright hilarious!,
I was a little intimidated at the thought of starting this book, and yet again I was overjoyed to find that I am, in fact, a grown up after all and can handle a cult classic with the best of 'em. Anyway. The book is mad. Funny, chaotic and mad. Basically, 'Fear and Loathing' is a semi-journalistic, semi-fictional, semi-situations-have-been-altered-for-artistic-reasons journey through the heart of early-seventies Las Vegas, set against the shifting drug culture and the dissipation of the hippie idealism of the sixties.
This is a time when the American Dream is falling apart. When money talks, the power of the masses is seeping away, 'consciousness expanding' drugs are disappearing from fashionable circles, and flower power is transforming into something darker, dirtier and a whole lot more seedy. At the heart of the book, Raoul Duke (Thompson's persona), his attorney and a very nice Red Shark convertible loaded with a medley of dangerous substances coast through conventions and rallies, bars and casinos, seeking the remnants of the American Dream and getting amazingly loaded along the way. Part 1 is about their 'coverage' (I use the term loosely) of the Mint 400 race in the Nevada desert, and Part 2 documents their return to Las Vegas to gatecrash the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (there might be samples!).
It's always difficult to describe and review such a crazy book, so instead I'll just say that it's pretty damn brilliant. It made me chortle aloud plenty of times, yet also had some quite poignant and downright repulsive moments that brought home the futility of their search for meaning, and the decidedly less-than-glamorous world a junkie inhabits. Mostly though, it was the best kind of farcical comedy - funny, ridiculous, outrageous, gutsy and I never quite knew what was going to happen next!
5.0 out of 5 stars Be scared,
So, what to make of Hunter S. Thompson's jolly jaunt forty-plus years on.
I don't see this as an insight into American culture of the sixties and seventies, it is an account of one man's trip to Las Vegas and his behaviour during it.
He, on the one hand, is hardly representative of the American public at large. Whilst he may typify that category of drugged and boozed anarchist so feted by the self-styled and self-nominated underground movement comprising a rebellious student and cop-out adult population mix of the time, ninety-five per cent of America were just getting on with their lives and watching the five per cent on television just like everyone else around the world.
And Las Vegas, for heavens' sake, that's hardly representative of US cities then or now. It is where America allows for all manner of excess to take place thereby alleviating the strain in the pressure cooker that is an otherwise repressed and puritanical society. Those who work and play in Vegas may be everyday Americans but they are in abnormal conditions behaving abnormally, unless you believe we are all animals deep down and given the right conditions we simply revert to our basic instincts. The whole principal of culture is that we have developed beyond that. Hopefully.
Oh, and while I'm here, I have read that Thompson's drug abuse might be seen as a secondary issue as he is only using hallucinatory drugs rather than habit-forming nasties such as heroin or cocaine. Well, that's OK then. Throwing yourself off a building because you think you can fly is a minor problem, unless you're the person flapping their arms. Choking to death on your own vomit is not a problem for the rest of us and it's probably what you should have expected and thereby deserved. Curtailing your life-expectancy and mental strength is a necessary by-product of simply having a good time. And that's without Thompson's relentless concurrent consumption of alcohol just to wash the drugs down.
And is it just one big laugh from start to finish? There is no doubt Thompson can be brutally funny, can portray his extreme experiences with piercing humour. But this trip is not funny, it's frightening and should scare the stuff out of anyone reading it.
In his occasional lucid moments Thompson proves, in a few short sentences, what a masterful journalist and writer he was. One also senses a high degree of empathy with and respect for the working man and woman and a creditable scepticism for all things political and politicians. But under the influence of a catastrophic intake of drugs and alcohol he can do no more than exploit all those around him. His search for the American Dream is not a seeking out of something physical, it is mental. The fact that he is sidetracked into finding a disused building on some deserted Las Vegas back-lot doesn't hide that fact that the whole escapade is conducted under the influence, it cannot be undertaken when clear-headed and sober because that's where he has been for the rest of his life and that did not turn up the Dream.
It is cringingly compulsive reading once you get going and you have to stay with Thompson and share his pace and time. Alongside the text Ralph Steadman's illustrations are so right even that's scary.
Overall, I don't think we can relate to this today. If you were alive then you can make some sense of it, maybe, if you were one of the relative few whose life was (is) lived like when it might be a reminiscence of times past. For the rest of us it is a picture of the edge of society that bears little if any relation to what we experience every day we get out of bed.
It's pretty compelling though. I'm simply amazed he could remember it all, any of it, and write about it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,
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Hunter S. Thompson is by far THE most entertaining writer in modern literature, it has to be said. His engrossing affilliation with substances that he swore he hadn't been taking during the writing of the major part of this novel, make this most probably the funniest piece of literature available. His quick wit and complete topsy-turvy sense of humour is only the beginning. As he travels through the desert with his attorney to "find the dark side of the American dream", they well and trully find it when they agree that any trip such as the one their making can only be made armed with a stupendous arsenal of drugs. And this they do. They engage in a completely twisted reality that is there's alone, and their journey, so infallible to their minds, leaps from one thing to the next supporting complete hysteria and laugh-out-louds situations, and I can honestly tell you there isn't a moment in this book that isn't ruthlessly fun.
Thompson manages to bring across madness in a sweet, yet shocking form, and produces simile after simile, metaphor after metaphor of true brilliance. I wouldn't go so far as to call this book a comedy, that would suggest that Thompson is attempting to be funny. But the fact is, he IS funny, whether you want him to be or not. His discriptions of the events that took place are superb, giving you the absolute feeling that you were right in the back seat of their car with the hitchhiker himself, and even more. His emotions and the feelings of his attorney are all described and somehow justified in some twisted way, and you can't help but get pulled into the story.
Apart from being hilarious, and wildly enteraining, the book also shows an overture on the scary American dream that was large during the late sixties. The malignant culture is portrayed wonderfully, and described from the standpoint of someone who got involved himself, and he describes the whole thing from things he saw. Even after the book has finished you'll find yourself hearing Hunter S. Thompson speaking in your head describing your every move in the form of one of his writings, almost like he's part of your sub-concious. His power, delivery and intoxicatingly clever witted nature makes this book what it is: a masterpiece. No wonder it became a modern classic.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,
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`Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is the hilarious and irreverent novel from Hunter S Thompson that has spawned many imitators over the years, but no equals.
This follows two drug fuelled characters as they get up to various exploits in and around Las Vegas. They drive around in a succession of convertible cars, first The Red Shark and then The White Whale and get into and out of numerous scrapes in the most hilarious ways. They even have the audacity to go to a police conference about narcotics!!!
I found myself laughing out loud at numerous times throughout this novel and whilst it is about drugs and the experiences had when taking them, it is in no way disjointed or confusing to read. You get a sense of the paranoia and hallucinations, without the confusion this could so easily create. This is based on true events and in true Gonzo tradition embellished in Thompson's most delicious way.
This book has a section at the back with a biography, explanation of Gonzo journalism, further reading list and more besides. This put the book into context for me and gave a great insight into the creation of this book and the man behind it.
This is a modern classic for good reason and whilst the characters get up to some unsavoury things during the course of the book, they carry it off with such style and humour that you can't help but be willingly taken along for the ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Mad Adventurous Drug Rampage In Las Vegas,
This book documents Hunter's trip to Las Vegas with his attorney 'the Samoan'. He originally went to Vegas to cover a story for Rolling Stone magazine about a race that was taking place but ended up writing this book instead. It certainly captures the darkside of the effects of hallucigens as well as the excitement that they entail. The first part of the book is fast paced and the second part is harder to read as Hunter is on the come down. I found it to be a fascinating read and what is most interesting are Hunter's hallucinations of reptilian entities and flying dinosaurs in which he said were 'lumbering around the corridors in pools of fresh blood'. This is sheer craziness bound with ingenius and there are many parts where I laughed out loud... I love the line when his attorney says:
"I left you alone for three minutes! You scared the hell out of those people! Waving that god damn marlin spike around and yelling about reptiles. You're lucky I came back in time. They were ready to call the cops."
This is a great read for any body who is interested in the psychedelic experience or anybody that is interested in unconventional journalism which takes us outside of the mainstream. I enjoyed reading this so much that it inspired me to record my experiences when I was travelling in Thailand. GREAT STUFF!
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1970s A Series - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (Paperback - 7 April 2003)
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