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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S.…

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

by Hunter S. Thompson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,664138267 (4.09)270
  1. 90
    Fear And Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist by Hunter S. Thompson (Scrub)
  2. 30
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  3. 10
    The Curse of Lono by Hunter S. Thompson (gonzobrarian)
    gonzobrarian: The Curse of Lono may very well be the belated sequel to Fear and Loathing in LV; an older, more refined Thompson has savage epiphany in Hawai'i.
  4. 10
    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (mcenroeucsb)
  5. 00
    Budding Prospects by T. C. Boyle (mcenroeucsb)
  6. 00
    Inferno by August Strindberg (andejons)
    andejons: Both are filled with madness, paranoia, and fiction that does a fine job of masquerading as biography.
  7. 00
    The African Safari Papers by Robert Sedlack (mcenroeucsb)
  8. 00
    A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Amusing Rogue protagonists
  9. 00
    Moscow to the End of the Line by Venedikt Erofeev (ljessen)
  10. 12
    On the Road by Jack Kerouac (MyriadBooks)
  11. 12
    Ruminations from the Garden by Don Henry Ford Jr. (infiniteletters)

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At some point in the narrative, a drug-addled man, the narrator, is handed a pink phone by a dwarf-sized waiter. I can't remember the caller's identity or message. I simply remember the scene (or more accurately, the mise-en-scene, to throw around some French, which I've probably also used inaccurately). This image seems nightmarish to me.

And then there's the moment in the narrative when the narrator describes the '60s (which were in the novel's present, circa 1970, then just recent past) as a wave that had crested and crashed. That's a pretty good image for the '60s: exciting and turbulent, impressive and white-capped, and pretty much all wet. But I was born in '72, so what do I know, other than to hate Baby Boomers for the myriad narcissistic social evils they've wrought. (Examples: Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Untold millions of weepy, self-important "We Are the World"-type media events, Disco, High divorce rates, Farrah Fawcett and her pet Ryan, George W. Bush, '80s hair metal, Inner-Child Exploration, the concept of 'bonding,' Scenes in too many movies to mention where characters dance goofily around to '60s pop-music hits, Sylvester Stallone.)

While I was listening to this novel, which is decently even if decadently written, I read an article about Las Vegas. The article purported to reveal the 'real' Vegas. In the 'real' Vegas one suicide occurs every 26 hours, which is the highest rate in the nation. The article's author hints at but doesn't reveal the 'real' reason for Vegas's high suicide rate. The author does, however, go on record with the claim that it is in everyone's in Vegas best interest to put forth at all times a happy (and in the article's author's opinion, meretricious) face for the public, because without tourist revenue (= gambling dollars), the area's whole economic machine grinds to a grim little halt. But the implication is, of course, that to lure someone to Vegas is to hasten death.

The article also chronicles a 16-year-old boy's impulsive suicidal leap from the top of the Stratophere, which building is built entirely of concrete and therefore probably can't ever be demo'ed (the reason for mentioning the wish for the latter which has to do with apparently 'everyone's' belief that the Stratosphere is ugly and hideous and gaudy and basically something that 'cheapens' the strip's skyline, but what are you doing to do except wonder over the fact that anything at all could possibly further 'cheapen' the strip). The article never comes right out and says why the kid commits suicide -- he'd had an argument with his parents, but they otherwise all basically got along -- but this reader was nevertheless left unsettled and kind of rattled at the article's end. And then, a week or so later, I finished FALILV. I have family in Vegas. There live in that city people I love and care about. I've spent time in that city, off-strip, and haven't found myself thinking altogether desperate or dark thoughts.

So, in "Fear and Loathing" you've got the account of two men (Hunter S.T. and his "attorney") who take suicidal quantities of drugs and carry on their persons all many of loaded weaponry, who behave reprehensibly (even if entertainingly so) and yet never die. At least not for decades. And on the other hand, you've got this article about Vegas that I read, where you've got a basically happy 16-year-old who was into sports and had a girlfriend and a car and a job and got good grades, who decided one night, after an argument whose upshot was that he got grounded for a week, to drive ten miles from his home, park the car, wait in line for two hours for an elevator (because this was on a Friday when he did it), which he took him 1,000 or so feet in the air to the Stratosphere's top, where he then exited the structure for the observation deck and climbed a four-foot-tall security fence, walked five yards and then climbed a ten-foot serious-security fence, and then stood on a ledge and, I suppose, took in the sights for about 30 seconds or so, until a security guard came ambling into the picture (this whole thing was caught on security camera, which the article's author was allowed to see), and who probably said something like, "Hey, kid!" or "Be careful!" or whatever one could possibly think to say in that moment, whereupon the kid waved happily and stepped off the ledge. Seconds later, the kid became part of the landscape. You know the saying, What happens in Vegas.... ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
A typical brain challenge from the master of gonzo journalism. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
1971 ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
If it was not for the March #TSBCBookChallenge, the chances of my picking up this book were non existent as I have a deep-set fear and loathing for drugs. Midway through the first chapter, I was about to give this book up as I pretty much disgusted by the behavior of the two drug addicts, Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo, driving a red convertible across the Mojave desert to Las Vegas with a suitcase full of drugs. But then, this being #TSBCBookChallenge, I could not possibly give up the book; so I trudged along albeit with very little enthusiasm. But to my surprise, soon I was hooked and by the time the book came to an end, the loathing that I had felt in the beginning was replaced with a vague sense of pity for these self destructive drug addicts as they explore the great American Dream in a discriminating and hypocritical society. Thompson portrays Las Vegas as a product of capitalism in its purest form and Duke uses drugs as a coping mechanism to escape depressing aspects of American culture. He also graphically portrays the downsides of drug use, including paranoia, aggression, and vicious hangovers. ( )
  _amritasharma_ | Feb 5, 2016 |
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..... ( )
  jimifenway | Feb 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is a number of things, most of them elusive on first reading and illusory thereafter. A solid second act by the author of "Hell's Angels," it is an apposite gloss on the more history-laden rock lyrics ("to live outside the law you must be honest")
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"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." -- Dr. Johnson
To Bob Geiger, for reasons that need not be explained here -- and to Bob Dylan, for Mister Tambourine Man
First words
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like 'I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive . . .' And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming, 'Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?'
What were we doing out here? What was the meaning of this trip? Did I actually have a big red convertible out there on the street? was I just roaming around these Mint Hotel escalators in a drug frenzy of some kind, or had I really come out here to Las Vegas to work on a story?
All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create...a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody-or at least some force-is tending the Light at the end of the tunnel.
Buy the ticket take the Ride
Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.
You can always turn your back on a person, but you can never turn your back on a drug... especially when it's waving a hunting knife in your eyes.
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The basic synopsis revolves around journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, as they arrive in 70's Las Vegas to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race. However, they soon abandon their work and begin experimenting with a variety of recreational drugs, such as LSD, cocaine, mescaline, and cannabis. This leads to a series of bizarre hallucinogenic trips, during which they destroy hotel rooms, wreck cars, and have visions of anthropomorphic desert animals, all the while ruminating on the decline of American culture.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679785892, Paperback)

Heralded as the "best book on the dope decade" by the New York Times Book Review, Hunter S. Thompson's documented drug orgy through Las Vegas would no doubt leave Nancy Reagan blushing and D.A.R.E. founders rethinking their motto. Under the pseudonym of Raoul Duke, Thompson travels with his Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in a souped-up convertible dubbed the "Great Red Shark." In its trunk, they stow "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 multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.... A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls," which they manage to consume during their short tour.

On assignment from a sports magazine to cover "the fabulous Mint 400"--a free-for-all biker's race in the heart of the Nevada desert--the drug-a-delic duo stumbles through Vegas in hallucinatory hopes of finding the American dream (two truck-stop waitresses tell them it's nearby, but can't remember if it's on the right or the left). They of course never get the story, but they do commit the only sins in Vegas: "burning the locals, abusing the tourists, terrifying the help." For Thompson to remember and pen his experiences with such clarity and wit is nothing short of a miracle; an impressive feat no matter how one feels about the subject matter. A first-rate sensibility twinger, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a pop-culture classic, an icon of an era past, and a nugget of pure comedic genius. --Rebekah Warren

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:38 -0400)

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Records the experiences of a free-lance writer who embarked on a zany journey into the drug culture.

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