Book Review- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

I’m just going to get straight to the point on this one. The sooner I talk about it, the sooner I can stop thinking about it…

This is the part where I warn you about spoilers, which is a joke, because something has to happen for there to be spoilers. But, consider yourself warned.

fear and loathing

I think I’ve made some sort of critical error here. I dug into Thompson’s masterpiece expecting some semblance of story. That seems to be my first mistake. Despite the 204 pages, the interesting and often disturbing illustrations, and the fairly popular film adaptation, Fear and Loathing… offers nothing by way of plot.

My biggest mistake was in reading the book as if it were a work of fiction. It’s not, apparently. It is, instead, a disturbing glance into the drugged out mind of Thompson, sometime circa-1971.

Now, this book was wasted on me for two big reasons.

1. It references a TON of political and cultural events from pre-1971. Now, I didn’t flunk history, but I wouldn’t call myself a student of it either. Most of Thompson’s name-dropping only left me confused. I found myself shrugging and guessing about what he was talking about most of the time. I mean, I know what he’s talking about when he talks about war. I know who Nixon is. And I’ll even go so far as to say that the counter-culture glimpse into the dislike of Nixon pre-Watergate was pretty interesting. But, I still understood little of what was being discussed.

2. I’ve never done a hallucinogenic drug in my life. When I was in high school, I read Marilyn Manson’s autobiography. His recollection of a bad LSD trip taught me that I had no interest in mind-altering substances. At least not the kind that make you see lizard people and hotel lobbies soaking in blood. No thanks.

And so, I have no knowledge, nor interest in most of the book’s content.

I mean, sure, the first couple drug-induced delusions were kind of funny. That was when I thought the story was going somewhere. It had promise. And then the delusions kept coming, never building toward anything. Just layer upon layer of drug psychosis numbing my brain.

But, by page 103, when I’d finally resigned myself to my own fair share of loathing, I was bored stiff.

Thompson, going by the terrible pseudonym of Raoul Duke, and his “attorney” spend a weekish in Vegas, high out of their minds. According to Thompson, he doesn’t sleep the whole trip. They encounter people, and basically run wild through Vegas paranoid that they’re going to get caught.

Except no one in Vegas gives a shit.

Truth. No one in Vegas does a damn thing about these two men, higher than the Empire State Buidling, rolling around Vegas. They break so many laws it’s preposterous. They total one rental car, just to get another one, which the attorney then pukes all over. Said attorney then threatens a waitress with a knife in the middle of a restaurant. Their hotel rooms are packed with methamphetamines, mescalin, LSD, amyls, and ether.

One thing’s for sure, I know a lot more about drugs now than I did a week ago.
Vintage Dr. GONZO

And no one cares. They even, kind of, kidnap a girl. But, not really? And almost all of the problems are because of the attorney. He’s insane. Aggressive. And high as fuck. Thompson handles himself well for the most part, and usually finds himself lying on the spot to explain the attorney’s behavior.

Again, that was interesting for about 20 pages. But 204? No. Not even a little bit.

And then, at the end? You think, all right, his reason for being in Vegas is over. Now he’ll go home and it’ll be over. Wow what a crazy week.

Nope! He gets on a plane, and lands in Denver for no apparent reason, and goes straight to the first pharmacy he sees to get more amyls. Then he yells at some marines, as the drugs pound through his system.

The end.


Why did I read this book? I could have read Redshirts by now and be halfway through The Lies of Locke Lamora. But, noooo, Emily just had to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Well, I read it. It’s over. And I’m never reading Hunter S. Thompson again. Probably.

I know this guy has a pretty mega cult following. And if you love him, I’m sorry for my antagonistic review. But really, this book was pointless to me. Maybe that’s the point. That searching for the American Dream is pointless. But if it’s some philosophical crap like that, I still don’t like it. Sorry.

But, if you’re into the counter-culture of the 60s and 70s, and are interested in the effects of drugs on the human psyche, by all means, give it a try. Maybe it will mean more to you.

Now, I’m going to go laugh my ass off reading Redshirts. See you guys soon!



6 thoughts on “Book Review- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson”

  1. hahaha great post šŸ™‚ I felt the same way when I finally got around to reading it. DAFUQ?

    Hope you check out my debut novel, THE WAITING ROOM šŸ™‚ No drugs required.

  2. Fair enough! Personally, Thompson is revered not for his plotlines, more for his stylistic choices. Either way, thanks for the honesty! If you’re ever interested in some other awesome book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!

  3. Thompson was primarily a political and sports commentator and did most of his writing for magazines. A lot of his articles read like Fear and Loathing, legitimate news interspersed with his wild alcoholic ravings which turned out, at least in the earlier years, to seem clever and expressive the counter culture cultists who revere(ed) him. You might actually enjoy his first published book, Hell’s Angels, which recounts the period of time he spent with the original Angels while researching the book. Spoiler alert…they beat his ass half to death in the end for being the weird crazy bastard that he was.

    My wife doesn’t like him either. But then again, she doesn’t the finer things in life like publishing wild tales about evil politicians or drinking a quart of Wild Turkey and pushing a Volkswagen off the side of a mountain just to watch it smash into the rocks at the bottom. God’s own prototype indeed.

    1. If I had done some background research I might have enjoyed it more. I knew nothing about Thompson until my book club meeting last night. Adding some author context helped me look at some scenes differently. Wish I’d done it earlier.

      1. He’s definitely not for everyone. Understanding the historical context of the time helps a lot too. Taken into consideration, some of his more obscure quotes become almost prolific.

        He was a fucker too. I miss him.

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