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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

by Hunter S. Thompson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,335160335 (4.07)307
In Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, Raoul Duke (Thompson) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (inspired by a friend of Thompson) are quickly diverted to search for the American dream. Their quest is fueled by nearly every drug imaginable and quickly becomes a surreal experience that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. But there is more to this hilarious tale than reckless behavior--for underneath the hallucinogenic facade is a stinging criticism of American greed and consumerism.… (more)
  1. 90
    Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist by Hunter S. Thompson (Scrub)
  2. 20
    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (mcenroeucsb)
  3. 20
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  4. 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.
  5. 00
    Budding Prospects by T. Coraghessan 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 Circles by Venedikt Erofeev (ljessen)
  10. 12
    Ruminations from the Garden by Don Henry Ford Jr. (infiniteletters)
  11. 12
    On the Road by Jack Kerouac (MyriadBooks)
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» See also 307 mentions

English (155)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
I think that reading this book got me high. I know I was not in my right mind after finishing it. ( )
  gakgakg | May 28, 2020 |
This is a fine book that can be interpreted on many different levels and allows for quite the reading experience once you get into it. I was impressed with the work and it is no wonder why this book is a classic.

4.5 stars! ( )
  DanielSTJ | Mar 5, 2020 |
The author recounts in a slightly fictionalized way his and his lawyer's drug covered trips to Las Vegas in 1971 to cover conventions. Lots and lots of drugs. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
I’ve heard a lot about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. From what I had heard, it is venerated in counterculture circles, as a 1960s (or early 1970s as the case is) journey into drug-addled weirdness and American hypocrisy. As a person I find that kind of literature tiresome, but I thought I’d give it a chance. That is the nature of a challenge after all.

Hunter S. Thompson I was familiar with only as the Dr. Duke character from Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic where he’s a sort of black sheep, always pursuing illegal means to make a buck and befouling the liberal ideals of the other characters. I don’t like Dr. Duke much, especially the demeaning way he pushes around his Chinese Communist girlfriend, Honey, and the way she takes it. It’s every American male-female cartoon relationship every written – man’s a jerk, the woman puts up with it Because She Loves Him. It’s a damaging trope that shows no sign of dying. Even cartoons that see themselves as edgy and cynical, like Family Guy, buy into it. But my loathing for the trope is a whole other story.

The novel is a fictionalized account of a trip Thomson and his friend, whom he calls his attorney in the book, take to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle event, but they really use it as a cover for buying and doing drugs, driving around in a fancy car, and eating lots of hotel food. They tell themselves they are looking for the American Dream, but that’s just a cover too. What they are really doing is consuming, which is the American Dream. Like Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, they possessed what they were looking for all along.

In a story like this I expected the Thompson character to act like a jerk, and he did. His jerkiness arose from pretension, not from any interior flaw such as one would expect from a Greek tragedy play. As I saw it, being in his mid-thirties when the story takes place, he was secretly envious of the wild counterculture youth of the past decade, and set out to outdo them in “drug-fueled excess” and screwing around with the straights, who are all perfectly nice to him and thus deserve being laughed at by the reader for not being in on the joke. It short, he was juvenile. There are flashes of adult wit here and there, but for me it never rose above National Lampoon territory. The sacred cows he attempts to slay are all dead now. I didn’t feel much resonance with it.

The story gets more hallucinogenic and wilder in its last fifth, and I did enjoy that part because it was more of a fantasy and had no grounding in real life. There’s a car chase that recalls a scene in the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever and the villainous Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd of that movie, who resemble Malcolm McDowell and David Crosby respectively, certainly act like the anarchic Raoul Duke and Gonzo of Thompson book, so I’m betting the scriptwriter stole a scene or two. And I did like the illustrations by Ralph Steadman, which seem to be parodying Thompson even as they depict his truth. The illustrator is still active today well into his 70s and producing political cartoons, most recently of Trump.

After I read the book a friend pointed me to an article by Thompson that I did like, so I can say I can’t fault his intellect and style; only his pretensions. ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | Jan 2, 2020 |
I borrowed a copy of this book from my son when I saw that it was on the RG reading list. I'm torn between giving this book a 2 or 3 star because, honestly, it did nothing for me. I hate relegating books into gender categories, but to me this was definitely a "guy" book. I found some of the situations funny, but really didn't walk away liking it. My son, however, loves it so maybe I missed something. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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")
 

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hunter S. Thompsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Steadman, RalphIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." -- Dr. Johnson
Dedication
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?'
Quotations
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?
Celebrating the 25th anniversary
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is a bookmark - don't combine with the book!
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