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Thompson has a irreversible way of dividing ones mind on the age old narcotics conundrum. On the one hand, opening your tiny mind with the hope of seeing a glimpse into what religious fanatics incessantly refer to as 'THE SOUL'. Delving deep into a state of euphoric lunacy and the promise of perpetual self enlightenment, all from snorting or swallowing some pill or powder is quite possibly every boy or girls dream. This you will find in 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', of that there is no doubt.
However, Thompson also exposes us to the dark side of the american dream. The hate, the horror, the death of the hippy philosophy and of course, the deterioration of a journalists mind as he overindulges on psychedelic substances.
But Thompson is far from depressing. His writing is beautifully articulate, wonderfully humorous but above all, he makes you both envious of his hedonistic view of the world, and also fearful of it.
Is it possible to find the American Dream in action? Is it possible to find the dark side of the American Dream? I am pretty sure it is but do wonder if it's possible if you are drugged up to your eyeballs and are accompanied by someone who is larger than life and has an even bigger appetite for illegal substances than you do. Hunter S Thompson tried it in 1971, writing what was originally a magazine piece for Rolling Stone magazine but was published as a book under the name "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".
I had always wanted to read the book - mainly because it's set in Vegas at a time when American counter culture found itself suffering something of a hangover after the euphoria and the idealism of the 1960s. Both location and the epoch appealed to me, along with Thompson's first hand experiences, particularly in San Francisco at the height of the so called "summer of love".
This isn't your formulaic pulp fiction novel so giving a brief precis of the plot seems rather pointless. Basically the story is the escapades had by Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr Gonzo as they head from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 off-road race in 1971 for Sports Illustrated magazine.
The book captures a place at odds with the lifestyle lived by Duke and Dr Gonzo, culminating with the two men being sent to cover a conference held for attorneys on drugs and narcotics in the city.
Duke and Dr Gonzo want to find the dark side of the American dream but whether the do or not depends very much on where you stand over what constitutes a "dark side" thanks to a writing style which is journalistic but completely rejects the notion that journalists have to be objective.
I feel a little embarrassed that it has taken me this long to read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" - it's certainly a seminal work and a book which despite now being 40 years old still stands up as something which is entertaining, shocking and riotously funny.
Thompson is the inventor of the so-called "Gonzo" style of journalism and although "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is sometimes held up as a fine example of this genre, Thompson himself disagreed - his argument being something which was truly "Gonzo" wouldn't have required the five re-writes "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" underwent.
He argued that the Gonzo style would eschew objective writing and become purely subjective. Furthermore it wouldn't always embrace the truth - embellishment was permissible. However the style should be immediate and if possible sail as close as possible to the wind when it came to deadlines, ensuring the work was published without any outside interference.
The end result in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a roman a clef, with some exaggeration but essentially this is a true story with Raoul Duke being the alias for Hunter S Thompson and Dr Gonzo, who is described as "the 300 pound Samoan attorney" being a nom de plume for Oscar Zeta Acosta, a Mexican-American lawyer and campaigner active in Los Angeles at the time. In the book the reasons for the attorney accompanying Duke to Las Vegas are kept vague but in reality Acosta accompanied Thompson to enable the writer to speak to him freely regarding the killing of a Mexican-American TV reporter by the LAPD.
As a teenager I was a huge fan of "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" and there's a certain air of debauchery within this book which reminds me of those comic strips. Certainly the prose which describes the copious use of drugs and Thompson's ability to write about being in varying states of conciousness keeps you firmly on side - whether you approve of their behaviour or not. And their behaviour is pretty outrageous it has to be said.
When the book was originally published in Rolling Stone magazine it featured illustrations from the Liverpool born artist Ralph Steadman, and these illustrations remain in the book. They are wonderful - very much of the period and also capture some of the hallucinatory thoughts mentioned by Thompson perfectly. His work is familiar to me as he was much in demand during the 1970s and I recall seeing it in publications my parents bought back then, including the "Sunday Times" magazine. That it appealed to a child despite his ability to capture very dark thoughts and experiences shouldn't take the edge off what he has produced here - perhaps I just harboured dark thoughts subconsciously in childhood. Duke tends to be a faceless creature with Dr Gonzo's form taking on a more crazed yet comic appearance in Steadman's hands.
It goes without saying that Thompson was a superlative writer and in amongst the drug and drink induced hazes and the fits of paranoia, he draws a picture of a long gone Las Vegas, first capturing the Mint Hotel and casino which is sponsor of the Mint 400 race, and then moving on to what was then the fairly new Circus Circus hotel and then the Flamingo.
The Mint is now Binions - with the hotel tower now closed due to the recession - and Thompson captures a particularly vivid hallucinatory experience Duke has in the casino there where people turn into reptiles before his very eyes with some of them looking very much like pterodactyls. If this sounds crazy then his description of going to Circus Circus high on drugs is even weirder - and funnier - as he tries to absorb the ridiculous nature of his surroundings as he gambles and drinks with trapeze performers flying above him as he takes a mescaline trip.
These days Circus Circus is, simply put, a processing factory for tourists too stupid to realise it's cheap for a reason. Back in 1971 it was viewed as a wonderful concept resort but it's fair to say that even viewing the place from more than 30 years apart both Thompson and myself shared the view that Circus Circus is hell on earth.
What you really get from Thompson's description of Las Vegas is how deeply conservative it was in 1971, a town which offered sin with strings attached and only wanted to attract a certain type of visitor. In a particularly hilarious section Thompson describes seeing Debbie Reynolds' show and how Duke and Dr Gonzo are thrown out for quite rightly pointing out how ridiculous this old school performer looks donning an afro wig and pretending to be "far out".
And so the experience continues, with Thompson saving his most venomous prose for what he sees at the National District Attorneys' Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. It becomes apparent very quickly that Duke and Dr Gonzo are in amongst "the enemy" with Thompson's belligerence towards authority, and more specifically what he views as a reactionary authority is all too plain to see, particularly when as Duke he realises that he himself knows more about narcotics and dangerous drugs than any of the policemen and law enforcers attending the conference.
He and Dr Gonzo take great delight in telling gullible policemen from the deep south about fictitious drugs and the behaviour they can induce and his conversational prose in such places is just hilarious. He also takes great pleasure in regaling Dr Gonzo's shock that people as reactionary and square as some of these southern police officers actually exist within his country's borders and highlights the huge differences that existed, and still exist between different parts of the USA.
The general air the book exudes as it heads towards its conclusion however is that of a hangover. The idealism and optimism of the 1960s are well and truly over, and Thompson writes of 1971 as a hideous, awful year. He saves his most scathing criticism for Richard Nixon as he describes how drug use has changed as the new decade dawns from uppers to downers. Thompson observes that "uppers are no longer stylish". He adds that "Conciousness Expansion went out with LBJ...and it's worth noting, historically, that downers came in with Nixon". I can't actually think of a better metaphor for Nixon's presidency and is somehow wonderfully prophetic too.
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" isn't always an easy read - and while it's refreshingly lacking in sex - I say refreshingly because sex seems to be something indelibly linked to drugs - it's certainly an adult book due to the copious, casual references to drugs and other misdemeanours. It is however a wonderful snapshot not so much of the American Dream but of the end of an era and the sore heads left as the hippie movement died a death at Altamont.
That's an apt comment to make and the soundtrack to the book is the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil". For some the life Duke and Dr Gonzo are living probably sounds like hell on earth but I felt differently. For me their experiences were fascinating - even if what they did was as far removed from anything I have ever done - because Thompson's writing is evocative and captivating, but also downright disturbing in places. This isn't a huge book - coming in at just under 200 pages but you might need to re-read some bits just to be sure you read right the first time.
If you want to be amused, and challenged then I recommend "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". If you like the safe and the pedestrian then I would suggest this isn't the book for you.
Hunter S Thompson committed suicide in 2005. His ashes were famously fired from a cannon in a private funeral service financed by his close friend, the actor Johnny Depp. Acosta went missing in Mexico in 1974 and his body has never been found. His son believes he was mixing with some very dangerous company and "mouthed off" to the wrong people.
Usually with books, seeing the film first can only be a hindrance, it restricts your imagination and often it is difficult to see the characters differently than their silver screen counterparts. Fear & Loathing however is one of only two books I've read where the portrayal on screen has fitted so beautifully with the paper based character.
I don't usually like reading reviews that go too deeply into the plot, you can sometimes end up stumbling blindly into a spoiler, so instead I will give only a brief synopsis of the book and then go onto what I personally enjoyed/disliked about it.
Loosely based on some tape recordings made by the author (Hunter S. Thompson) documenting a trip to las vegas. Journalist Raoul Duke and his Samoan attorney Dr Gonzo (a nod to Thompsons unique writing style coined as Gonzo Journalism) are commisioned to write a magazine article on the mint 400, a desert motorbike race.
They "arm themselves to the teeth" with a selection of uppers, downers, screamers and laughers for their highly charged journey into the dark side of the American dream. A suitcase of narcotics and Hallucinagens in tow they set off to claim their free Las Vegas suite (all paid for by Dukes employers). What follows is an unforgettable journey not only into the unforgiving deserts of the mid west but also into the recesses of the human mind.
To dismiss this as a mere "druggy" book would be absurd, Thompsons unusual mixture of truth and fantasy, presenting as fact that which may never have happened, (not just as a mechanism to accurately portray drug induced psychosis but a style he is well known for in other works) blurring the lines of distinction in a fascinating way.
Perhaps the most important point I'd like to make about the book is that while it does feature drug use as a central theme, the novel doesn't rely on this theme, milking cheap laughs and instant kicks at the expense of a strong narrative or complex, identifiable characters. So often have I seen films or read books where "this is a drugs book" seems to be the overriding and paper thin excuse to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
The novel is a short 200 pages, but the old addage "always leave them wanting more" definately rings true here. Dotted around the book are several beautifully fitting illustrations, instantly recogniseable as Ralph Steadmans style. A style that encapsulates so completely the mania and nervous urgency that go hand in hand with excessive use of hallucinogens, a feeling that I myself am no stranger to ; )
On a side note I recently watched a documentary which postulated that Ralph's drawing style was arrived at only after being introduced to acid for the first time by Thompson, before this he had a more orthodox (and lets face it less interesting) illustrative technique. While I'm not sure of the validity of this assertion it certainly makes for an entertaining tale.
Now that we've dealt with the contents of the novel a brief word on aesthetics. My own personal copy sees Steadmans signature scrawlings showing our two "heroes" riding into the bleak Nevada desert, the colours are bright and pleasing on the eye, a beautiful soft peach colour gives way to a vibrant and dangerous orange (a great visual metaphor for the content inside).
I have seen the more traditional copies which are a mirror image of the films front sleeve, a twisted representation of Raoul Duke (Johny Depp) as seen through a shimmering heat haze/eyes of a narcotic fiend. Either copy is still available so it all comes down to personal choice.
To summise, Fear & Loathing is one of my favourite novels, a wonderfully addictive experience.
"two good old boys in a
fire apple red convertible...
stoned, ripped, twisted... Good
Hunter S. Thompson, the strangest twisted freak of man. Drug addles, gun toting and crazy. A believer in freak power and notoriously bad driver.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a trip Hunter took to Las Vegas to report on a Bike Race. He saw this as an excuse to go mental and this book was born from the Rolling Stone articles.
Half truth, half fiction. It follows Hunter and his Samoan attorney. Darting in and out of hotels, taking copious amounts of substances that would have killed an acre of life in the rain forest, whilst driving around in two different Cadillacs. All part of the American Dream. There is no plot, no storyline to get into it. It's a point of time expertly executed on the page in the usual Hunter style, including a tape transcript where he just couldn't remember what the hell happened so he leaves you to work it out.
This lead to the greatest film adaptation of all time. The closest I've ever seen to a book being fully realised on screen. Hunter thought this too, he appeared in the thing. Depp plays Hunter perfectly. He followed him round for a couple of months before 'becoming him' scaring the crap out of Hunter. At one point calling his then wife saying 'God it's me! He's in a the garden blowing s**t up'.
Be warned this isn't an easy read. It jumps it dives and darts about, like catching rabbits. And it isn't a promotion of drugs. Many claimed it to be, but if you really want to try these drugs after reading this then you clearly need to be locked up.
I've got to say, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is up there with my favourite reads of all time. It's savage and evocative portrayal of the destruction of the American Dream is tantalisingly vivid. Thompson paints such a vivid and dystopian view of 20th century excess, that you feel like you are right on the streets with him; or should I say with Raoul Duke. Thompson is credited with the invention of the 'Gonzo' movement which see's the journalist participating in as well as narrating on the subject of the novella. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is very much a piece of 'Gonzo' prose, blurring the lines between autobiography and fiction. The role of Thompson is played by the fictitious Raoul Duke, who is essentially Thompson's alter ego.
As Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo plough through the Mojavi Dessert in a fire red convertible, en route to Vegas, they begin consuming a plethora of drugs and mind bending substances, the effects of which fuel the narrative of the tale. Once in Vegas, Duke is to cover the 'Mint 500' - the motor cross event of the year. Thanks to the hedonistic consumption of nearly every drug known to man, Duke and Gonzo are in no state to focus on the race. What follows is a hedonistic, self destructive frenzy that spirals quickly out of control. Somehow amidst the carnage Thompson manages to incorporate the most insightful analysis of 20th century excess since F. Scott Fitzgerald's seminal text The Great Gatsby.
What I love about Thompson's writing, particularly in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is the luminescence and clarity of his words. I have very little first hand experience of most of the substances abused and imbibed by Duke and Dr Gonzo but their affects are so vividly recreated through Thompson's language that the experience feels 100% authentic. In other words, he creates the ambience of the trip so vividly that you feel like you yourself are on it.
As I said earlier, the line between fiction and autobiography is very much blurred in this gonzo-esque piece - (if one were to attempt a bender of this magnitude in real life, it is safe to assume that you would be lucky to survive it). However there is a strong similarity between Duke and Thompson. Thompson was a notorious advocate of narcotics, but also a genuine revolutionary. In his time he stood for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado on a 'Freak power' ticket. His policies included renaming Aspen "Fat City" to prevent real estate companies from trading on the name of the town, legalising all drugs and a whole host of other 'extreme' ideas. He lost, but very narrowly and his brief foray into politics sent shock waves through the American political system. I heard a quote recently that summed up this revolutionary spirit perfectly. Annoyingly I have forgotten the exact quote but I will paraphrase it: "While authors such as F Scott Fitzgerald were fascinated by the idea of the American Dream, they wanted to look through the windows and admire the beauty of the rich while critiquing them; Thompson wanted to smash the windows and assault them!"
In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas the reader can expect a real insight into the world of drug culture, in fascinating and harrowing detail. There is also a deeper insight into why the western world is being desecrated by big business, cynical politics and materialism. If you've never read any of Thompson's work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a good gateway into his world.
While this book is not suitable for children, I would have no reservations about recommending it to all adults, whether they are interested in the immediate subject matter (drugs) or not.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a drug fuelled road trip about a journalist who gets side-tracked from his assignment partly due to, among other things, the contents of his suitcase which includes"...two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multi-coloured uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.....also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Hunter S Thompson's finest book really is unequalled. It is a study in anarchic hedonism with a writing style that is visual, immediate and often imitated. This is the sort of book that has the power to make you feel nostalgia for a time and a place you have never been to. Thompson's work is always insightful and although less obviously political that some of his articles Fear and Loathing is razor sharp in it's observations of American culture.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the semi-autobiographical account of one Dr. Hunter S Thompson, a name synonymous with drugs, drink and reckless excess. Written by Thompson at the beginning of the seventies, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas recalls Hunters' attempts to find the ever elusive American dream. Alongside him is his attorney, 'The Samoan.' The novel starts 'somewhere out near Barstow, on the edge of the desert', and from there it hurtles at high speed through Las Vegas on days/weeks/months of drug induced hallucinations and revelations, twisting the 'everything is possible' mantra of the American dream in ways which would (and probably should) not ever be imagined.
Hunter's writing style is unique, there's no doubting that. However the inventor of 'gonzo' journalism is quick to say that this book isn't typical of his stream of consciousness style writing. Regardless of this, it IS unlike anything you will have read before and Hunter's words have the power to shock and disorientate you every bit as much as the drugs you are reading about. Hunter presents two characters who, despite going to excesses most of us could never fathom, you are able to empathise with. This glimpse of their lives left me wanting more of Hunter. It is quite simply a masterpiece.
Like probably thousands of other people, this was the book that introduced me to the work of "Dr. Gonzo" himself, Hunter S. Thompson.
I was given this to read by a mate when I was a student, and from the first page I was hooked! I must have read the whole thing from cover to cover in an afternoon! Thompson's writing style was unlike anything I'd read before and I was mesmerised by his descriptions and observations on the excesses of American society.
Thompson wrote the book supposedly as a search for the American Dream, what he unleashes however is an acid-fuelled picture of the "Dark Side" of American life, with Las Vegas as the focal point.
Thompson's excellent writing alone would be enough to recommend this book, but it also features some fantastic (and often a disturbing) sketches by Ralph Steadman. These really add to the whole package and suck you deeper into the crazy events unfolding on the page.
This is one of those books that critics and literary types will debate endlessly, looking for deeper meaning and insight from every page. It is also a book that anyone can pick up, blast through in a few hours, and be entertained by. In saying that I did find the last quarter of the book slightly less enjoyable than what preceeded it.
Everyone should read this book at least once. I'm sure everyone who has read it, will remember it!
Basically a buddy movie with a twist!!
Hunter S (Depp), a writer/journalist & his lawer take a drug fuelled trip to vegas! The main purpose of the trip is for Hunter to write a story on some sort of motorbike race in the desserts outside vegas....
...this is a great film, the acting is superb, the commentry is amazing, but be careful if you have had a heavy night, some of the shots make you feel a bit ill - with all the panning in, panning out, out of focus (basically what hunter & his lawer are seeing)!
Every single drug that you can imagine is taken and basically this film is just one long trip!
I really can not tell you how great this film is.....a true coming of age film, once you get to a certain age you have to have watched this film....
...this really is not a film for those who have never "experimented" as I think a lot of the brilliance and trains of thought will be lost...there is a certain kind of "specialness" that you manage to achieve when you "over-indulge"!
what else can i say...superb, genius, brilliant - get it, put it in the dvd player, go out (for say 2 days), don't sleep, drink lots, "do" lots come home and press play and enjoy!
After reading the book 'fear and loathing in las vegas', by Hunter S Thompson, - a pure masterpiece in itself, i thought id have a look at the film, which i heard heard was also excellent. I was surprised to enjoy the film more than the book. Starring Jonny Depp, as the main character, the journalist, and Benicio deltoro, as his attourney, the actors deliver a sperb performance, fitting their role like a glove, exactly as interpreted in the book. The story is about a journalist who gets a job writing several reviews for a magazine in Las Vegas. He and his attouney decide that they must find the heart of the "American Dream", and to spice up their trip, by buying some drugs to take, and "once u start a drug collection, its difficult to stop..." They end up with a suitcase full every amount of every drug u could imagine, and they find themselves getting into a lot of trouble with alot of people as a result of their hilarious drug trips. The messing around with their brains leads to their 'fear and loathing' which leads to various awkward situations. The film portrays the drug culture as acurately as the book, but the aid of actually seeing the drugged up characters in action makes it a lot funnier! I would certainly reccommend this film to anyone who likes drug humour, or even just comedy in general! This well constructed movie is not one to be missed!
This book really made me stop and wonder. It was the first time I realised that reckless, nihilist rebellion could be carried out, glorified and even justified by intelligent people completely at odds with their society. "We were in the desert at the edge of Barstow when the drugs began to take hold." So more or less, does it begin and it never relents. Hunter Thompson and his lawyer, Oscar Acosta, who was if anything even more of a maniac,(see his own excellent books "Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo" and "Revenge of the Cockroach People") have hired a car, collected a monstrous arsenal of illegal drugs and are off to Las Vegas on a journalistic mission. The book covers the next few days as they get hideously twisted, trash hotel rooms and their fellow beings and have to be ever more inventive to stay out of jail, all the while searching for "The American Dream", a concept which gets continually vaguer as they proceed. But these people are not idiots. The writing is intelligent, ferocious, occasionally wise and very very funny. You can spend ages trying to guess how much is true and how much is "gonzo journalism", i.e. complete lies and exaggeration, but why bother? Just relish the extraordinary atmosphere of the early seventies, and be grateful that these people have done all this so that you don't have to. I repeat, you don't have to. Copying their behaviour and or attitude will really mess you up. Oscar Acosta is missing presumed dead at age 33 and Thompson himself is starting to show the effects of his excess, albeit belatedly. His writing now has only a fraction of its former power and his personal behaviour is ever more erratic. Read for entertainment only, but damn fine entertainment whose like we shall not see again, though many have tried to copy it.
After watching snippets of the film whilst wandering through the movie channels on bleary Saturday nights,I succumbed to my purism and read the book instead.I feel film adaptations can never really recreate the personalisation and insight that an author can give. Besides,the parts of the film that I can remember make a heapload more sense now I have been initiated. So,what did I think of the book? First off,any book that opens with the scene of a man and his attorney in a red convertible driving through the desert flailing and flapping at bats that aren't there is fantastic. It's the law. A book that then unfolds as an original,fascinating auteur piece that contradicts everthing I've come to expect from modern literature is surely worth the £6.99. 'Fear and Loathing...' is the kind of book that as you read,you are never totally sure of what's happenening,but you're pretty much aware of where the characters are and what drug they're on.This information is plenty to understand the genuinely amusing banter between the two.The book is easy to fall into,as the context and premise is brain-cushioningly simple,and at the end of the book the story just,well,stops.This makes the book in effect a photograph of the Vegas trip,and is ultimately satisfying. Hunter S.Thompson's refreshing approach to writing forced me to read differently,I felt more active in following the plot and understanding the characters.I felt as if it were my job to pay attention to the storyteller,instead of the writer painting it all out for me with pretty adjectives.Because of this style,'Fear and Loathing...' comes across as similar to a diary entry,as though it were never written for an audience at all,but for some sort of personal need to record events in a funny and meandering way,i.e.writing for fun rather than the publishers. As well as being an entertaining read,'Fear and Loathing...' also raises some interesting knowledge on po
st-sixties America and the division between the police and the drug culture through a lack of accurate information.If you are under the age of fifty or narcotically pure some of these may be lost on you,but don't worry,these are merely asides and you will still comprehend the basic plot. To sum up,if you are the kind of person who is frustrated by a lack of description or feel at odds if there is no recogniseable climax,this may not be the book for you.However,if you are tired with conventional narrative and enjoy being engaged as a reader in new and different ways,'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is a welcoming place to start.
Preferably about three times before you even attempt to see the film. The book was recommended to me by a friend a couple of years back. After reading it the first time I thought it was great, but essentially had no idea what was really going on. A couple of reads later I heard that Gilliam had done the film so headed down to the multiplex to see it. Half the audience walked out. I didn't. I thought the book was nigh on impossible to film, and if it wasn't for Gilliam, it would have been. Crazy visuals with Depps unique (and extremely accurate) portrayal of Thompson led to an all round great experience. The film is a companion to the book. No doubt about that. Read the book first or prepare to be seriously confused. As far as comments made by people here about Fear and Loathing being referenced by drugs cultur-ites (is that a word?) nowadays, spot on comment. Fear and Loathing is one bad trip - start to finish. Anyone reckoning they've 'done a fear and loathing' is, quite frankly, talking out of their posterior. Feel free to mess yourself up, kids, but don't compare it to this - how many of you can claim to have a bottle of ether in the boot of your car? Hands up? Okay then.
Gonzo journalism began as a derogetary term, meaning simpletons journalism, and was first regarded as going against everything that journalism stood for, and of all the Gonzo journalists, it is fair to suggest that Hunter S Thomson is the most famous, at first rejected by academics and critics, his work is now considered to be of the upmost importance and his books are reccomended texts for most journalism courses. Fear and Loathing Las Vegas is the drug distorted and overly fictionalised story of a trip taken to Las Vegas by Thomson and his attorney to Las Vegas in order to cover the Mint 100 motorcycle race, Thomsons original idea was to take down with him a notepad and large cache of drugs then record all events and submit the notebook for publication, although we can assume that not all events were as truthful as others, but as Thomson says, the closest thing to truth he ever saw was a CCTV camera in a convinience store in Woody Creek. Thomson has written much more serious and interesting books than this, but it is still a great work, however, it is good to get you into Thomson's work, if you want a good background into his ideas and personal background then I reccomend 'The Proud Highway', a collection of his letters, essays and poems.
The number of druggies in their late teens who describe their various experiences as 'just like Fear and Loathing' is enough to put you off reading the book. What these saps neglect to mention about the book however is that it's pretty much a bad trip from beginning to end, with Duke playing straight man to his Samoan attorney's more outlandish excesses, trying to stop him from pulling knives on waitresses, guns on hapless reporters and from covering the walls of whichever hotel they're staying at in technicolour vomit. But his efforts are to no avail, as the Samoan does all of this - and worse. That the novel (actually the book defies categorisation), and indeed the works of Hunter S. Thompson in general, have not been treated seriously by the critical establishment is a sign of criminal neglect - or you could see it as a backhanded compliment. The novel is as radical in structure and execution as most work by Burroughs, the enfant terrible of the literary establishment. The only way to get a real idea of how to measure Thompson's achievements as a writer is to read all of his published work - from the serious political commentary through the beserker speed rages - but failing that, this is a good place to start.