My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like ‘I feel light-headed; maybe you should drive…'”
And so the journey begins; a journey where two drug-addled men, nay, two of ‘god’s very own prototypes’ shriek wildly in a red convertible christened the ‘Great Red Shark’, driving at break-neck speed through the unforgiving Las Vegas desert, straight for the mirage that is ‘The American Dream‘.
There it was; shimmering playfully in front of them, always just a little out of reach. Yet they drive anyway, hell-bent on grasping a tendril of it. Little did they know that they ended up creating their own version of it; a sick, twisted psychedelic nightmare birthed by drugs and fathered by pure Gonzo journalism.
Hailed as a cult classic, this savage journey is loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson (aka Raoul Duke, aka self-proclaimed Doctor of Journalism) and Oscar Zeta Acosta (aka Dr. Gonzo – the attorney) and their never-to-be-repeated-one-of-a-kind expedition to the limits of human endurance.
“Oh mama… could this really be the end???”
Initially the journey begins as a serious journalism assignment to cover the Mint 400; an annual race across the desert consisting of dune buggies, custom motorcycles, beer and unsavoury biker types.
“The only way to prepare for a trip like this, I felt, was to dress up like human peacocks and get crazy, then screech off across the desert and cover the story. Never lose sight of the primary responsibility.”
However the objective of the operation soon degenerates to a orgyistic mish-mash of circus casinos, dwarfs, apes, reptilian love, trashed hotel rooms, Barbra Streisand portraits and bad, bad trips. Very soon our two anti-protagonists end up drowning in a cesspool of their own making, trying to make sense of a world that really shouldn’t, but somehow does anyway.
Fear and Loathing isn’t for the faint hearted. Thompsons prose has a savage, animalistic vein to it; the mindless antics, a ritualistic mode which speaks of a desperate cleansing of the system. The things that happen in this book are foul, lawless and downright immoral, and it would be unbearable – if it weren’t for the humour.
“Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in; the only real cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas.”
Holy Mother of God… ‘Fear and Loathing’ was some ride and after reading it, I knew things would never be the same again. Because you know when you’ve been Gonzo’d.
- The Story Of Steadman, Drawn From His ‘Gonzo’ Art (npr.org)
- Hunter S. Thompson Interviews Keith Richards, and Very Little Makes Sense (openculture.com)