Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1971 classic that starts off with this dude having about 80 pounds of different stuff to make someone drunk, high and demented at once, along with an attorney. They also decide to let a hitch-hiker slash regular hiker have a ride as they’re on their way to Vegas. What they’re supposedly going to Vegas for is to report on a car race, but what they’re more interested in is getting wasted and hooked up. They’re basically looking out for the supposed American Dream. But to survive in Vegas, you have to be crass, mean, and a cheat. And the protagonist, who we don’t find out even his last name of till way later on, is willing to take a poke at it.
I am going on unresearched assumption, but I get the impression this book is read in some high schools, and it’s a more interesting and gripping read than others of the sort, like, say, Things Fall Apart and The Great Gatsby. And I can imagine a lot of gasps and laugh-out-loud moments if any high schools did any live readings like my English classes did with Shakespeare. But you know? There are exemptions, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies, but most veteran classic books have something grave about them I don’t like. In university I’m learning about how we as different societies create and decide what is natural and what is deviant. Maybe I myself am a prime example of liking books from my generation, not another one. But that’s not to say I don’t have honest and justifiable criticisms in this review of mine.
I guess you could say every story has some kind of lesson, no matter how miniature. If there’s a picture book about a fish winning a race, it says even a little flounder can get first prize; if someone gets a tattoo with unprescribed ink, a bad zit might grow under there. I’m not saying Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas doesn’t have a message. If anything, by one-fifth of the way there, it basically says, “Try not to party too hard or else you’ll get the worst headache possible”. It’s more along the lines of what the actual characters learn, or don’t learn.
What turned me off from the book was its refusal to choose a destination and stick to it. It’s true that in parties and in Vegas, especially if you’re not with a care in the world and searching for the American Dream, a lot can happen, and some destinations can end up all for naught, but when the protagonist goes to a big conference because it could be a big bust, and they carelessly leave because it’s boring, what’s left to do really?
It was also annoying how so many fears of what could happen are disregarded. The end result, looking back, feels like a clutter-up of different events that each have a similar feel, because in Vegas, there’s supposedly only one way to function. It was sometimes fun reading about all the crazy things, but they end up like a cup full of protons, with no electrons or neutrons to make them spark, attract, and connect to one another. You could even call this book anti-progressive.
This fifty-year old classic disregards regular book format to focus on two dangerous nincompoops shamelessly intoxicating themselves to the point of schizophrenia. There are a lot of fun and treacherous adventures Duke and his attorney go through, yet somehow even at just 200 pages, the book is simply exhausting.
But lastly, I got this book from a friend who asked me to review it for her. I feel bad for giving such harsh a review, but if she still decides to read it, I hope she finds the obtuse and rampaging misadventures of the main man and his attorney more funny and enjoyable than I did.