Friday, September 18, 2015
The shark and the whale going for a ride
On a rainy winter evening in the winter of 2004 I was supposed to see Hunter S. Thompson. I was a college journalist having a great time yelling about politics and writing music reviews and my editor and I were going to line up and wait for a glimpse of the gonzo glory that so fascinated and repelled us. But it didn't happen. Thompson was ill and didn't end up finishing the signing event. A few months later he was dead.
I didn't want to read Fear and Loathing after that. I didn't want to see the movie. I didn't want to know any more for a long time, because what I knew was that Thompson's life had burnt him and he'd shared that burning with his readers.
But it's been eleven years now and I was feeling a little less raw so I just bought the fucking thing and dedicated a couple of hours to getting it in my system.
On the one hand I'm still raw. Thompson was a goddamned gift and I'm sad that he's gone. On the other hand reading what he wrote is the best way to appreciate that gift because his writing is full of hilarity and wonder and confusion and so much life that it makes your eyes ache as they move over the pages.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a great way to kill an afternoon feeling crazy and vibrant. It's brimming with rancid delight that seeps into you and jerks a grin onto your face. It's sparse while still being overwhelming, and funny on every single page.
I don't know how to recommend this book, or who should read it, or how to even approach explaining it. I'll just say that it felt good reading it.
Thompson, Hunter S.. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the
American Dream. Vintage Books. New York: New York. 1998. (1971)