By Luis Gael Jimenez
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by the late Hunter S. Thompson reads like the journal of a man slipping into the darkest realms of the human spirit.
And in a lot of ways, that is exactly what this book is; An exploration into a world of uppers, downers, hallucinogens, and whatever else Raoul Drake, the protagonist , can get his hands on.
Raoul Drake is a journalist sent to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 off-road motorcycle race with his lawyer, a 300 hundred pound Samoan man named Dr. Gonzo.
The pair travel in a rented convertible with a trunk full of narcotics and heads far into the clouds.
The book itself is heavily driven by the constant inner monologues of Raoul Drake as he struggles to maintain his composure as he slips more and more into a drug induced state of hysteria.
Without a real clear-driven narrative, an unreliable narrator, and constant reference to drugs many people will be turned away before they even open the book, but what is sure to capture your attention, is Thompson’s distinctive style of fast-paced, stream of conscious-like writing.
Thompson uses wild descriptions and imagery to describe everything and everyone he encounters leaving the reader feeling as if they are inside the mind of a man deep into an LSD trip.
Added with the fantastic illustrations of Ralph Steadman and one really feels as if they tagging along with Dr. Gonzo and Drake as they speed down a lonely desert highway holding on for dear life.
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is a unique read that makes the reader identify with a protagonist that is not typically featured in novels: the senseless and depraved stoner in the midst of losing his mind.
Thompson’s over the top exaggerations and frenzied pace make the novel what it is.
And what it lacks in the narrative department, it makes up for with its sheer, unrivaled ability to make you feel as if you are losing your mind along with Drake.
It is a must read for those seeking a sense of vicarious thrill and those brave enough to jump deep into the mind of a madman.
Here is a 1987 interview that Hunter S. Thomson did with David Letterman to give you an idea of who the author is.