Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing
Title: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Publication Date: 1971 (1998 edition)
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 204
Age Rating: Readers over 15
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       I feel like I'm starting to hit my post-modern stride.  Although Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is never a book I would choose to read on my own, I thouroughly enjoyed reading it.  Hunter S. Thompson did an excellent job mixing his background in journalism with his interest in writing a novel.  It was one of the most eye opening (and utterly hilarious) books that I have ever read, but not in the way that you'd expect.  

Duke and Dr. Gonezo from the movie version
       Duke, a journalist, is sent to Las Vegas to report upon the Mint 400 motorcycle race, and he brings along his attorney, Dr. Gonezo.  However, their journey ends up being the opposite of a business trip.  They fill a convertible with a plethora of powerful drugs, alcohol, and even a handgun, and set off for the city that never sleeps.  After spending days exploring Circus-Circus, seriously abusing narcotics, and causing trouble, Dr. Gonezo sends Duke a note inviting him to report on a drug convention held for police officers around the country.  Thompson's sense of irony is astounding; he sends two of the biggest drug users into an anti-drug convention filled with cops.  Run-ins with police, poor decision making, and a lack of sleep lead to Duke's imminent insanity as he seeks his own unique version of the American Dream in Las Vegas.

       For some strange reason, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was not available in my college bookstore, so I had to order it on Amazon.  I had it shipped to my house, and my mom gave it to me after one of my basketball games.  When she handed me the novel, she gave me a weird look.  "I read the back of the cover... you know this book is all about drugs, right?" she asked me.  I laughed, and replied, "That's American Fiction from 1950 to Present for you."  All joking aside, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is extremely drug-addled.  It is actually somewhat based on Hunter S. Thompson's own life, as well, so his many descriptions of various narcotics of different strengths seem to be extremely accurate.  Sometimes, I was actually overwhelmed by the terminology used.  Although I was definitely in shock about Duke's constant state of being high, it was definitely a perspective that I have never read about before, and it was quite a unique character viewpoint.  Las Vegas is the perfect setting, as well, because all of the flash and dazzle is amplified by being mentally and/or physically incapacitated.

Las Vegas       Maybe it's Thompson's drug-addled characters, or maybe it's just the ludicracy of the plot line, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is absolutely hilarious!  One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when Duke and Dr. Gonezo go to a taco stand.  Thompson spends three entire pages discussing the different types of tacos that they are debating on ordering.  Basically the whole time I was reading, I was like... "What the heck?"  To be completely honest, sometimes reading a novel as ridiculous as this can be a great escape from the dreary reality of rainy days filled with tedious college busywork.  

       I would definitely recommend Thompson's novel to my college-aged friends.  However, super conservative readers will NOT find it to be entertaining, quality literature.  The main characters are actually on drugs for the entirety of the narrative.  Don't say I didn't warn you in advance.

Happy reading!

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