A Little Fear, A Dash of Loathing

This a review of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. It was released thirty three years ago but I suspect that Hunter Thompson’s most famous work will be re-released at some point if the legal issues can be dealt with. My edition’s pages are no longer in consecutive order; like kids in homeroom when they have a substitute, they’ve rearranged themselves with furtive glee. ROLLING STONE first published the pieces submitted by ‘Raoul Duke’ in 1971. The book cost forty pence under the old British monetary system, brought out in the UK by Grenada Publishing Ltd. To introduce a larger context to the book’s release date, everyone dressed like Austin Powers and the book’s dedication singles out Bob Dylan for MISTER TAMBOURINE MAN.

“Let’s get right to the heart of this thing. You see, twenty four hours ago we were sitting in the Polo Lounge, in the patio section, of course, when this uniformed dwarf holding a pink telephone came up to me and said, “this must be the call you’ve been waiting for all this time, sir.”

Raoul and Dr. Gonzo are off to Vegas in search of the American dream. As in all quests there are obstacles to overcome, but FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS presents some unique ones, including the search for the Vincent Black Shadow, and the compounding effects of hallucinogenic drugs when mixed with Vegas’ own version of reality. Things are bad when you fire a .357 Magnum at invisible lizards, find yourself in the middle of DA’s convention before setting fire to your hotel room after parking your rental car on the sidewalk in front of the Dunes. Projectile vomiting and trying to strangle the maid, even if you think it’s self-defense, are bound to attract the sort of attention most hotel guests take pains to avoid; and, yes, you can make a really big pina colada if you fill the bathtub with tequila.

The job was to cover the Mint 400; the job was to deliver a thousand words on the race and not blow the expense money at the slots. But the quest overpowered the job while the context devoured the quest; an editor’s note reveals that Dr. Duke broke down completely somewhere along Paradise Boulevard in the Great White Whale. “I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger…A Man on the Move…and just sick enough to be totally confident.”