Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las VegasFear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This might be the most ludicrous book I have ever read. It’s Gravity’s Rainbow but with drugs instead of a war. And how many drugs! Every single one, taken simultaneously while driving around. How did they make a movie out of this? Not much actually happens, and if you filmed it without the drug-addled haze the protagonist views everything through it would be staggeringly dull. I might have to watch the movie just so I can understand how they did it.

Hunter S. Thompson writes his usual unlikeable jerkwad of a protagonist, doing his level best to destroy his mind, liver and kidneys in record-breaking time. He’s racist and sexist, has no redeeming qualities, and for some reason I still enjoyed this book more than The Rum Diaries. There are fewer characters in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so maybe that’s it. Fewer people to hate. My favourite part of this book is the beginning, when the insanity is still novel and amusing. Towards the middle it shades darker, and becomes more depressing. It lifts up towards the end, following the protagonist’s paranoia and mood. Thompson does a good job making the tone of the tale parallel the main character’s inner attitude.

Thompson’s writing is what makes this book for me. Stripped down. Evocative. I wonder if he read a lot of Hemingway growing up? Because that’s what it reminds me of. The same sort of minimalist description, like he gave himself a maximum word count to get the idea across. There’s next to nothing there but it’s still so good, so meaty and real. And possibly toxic, so don’t consume too much of it. That’s a lot of cursing and slurs. Maybe follow this one up with something uplifting and good for your soul. Shakespeare? One of the comedies, though.

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