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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Other American Stories (Modern Library) - Hunter S. Thompson, Ralph Steadman “No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”

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When I was attending college at the esteemed institution of the University of Arizona I scored a ticket to see Hunter S. Thompson. My book friends were green with envy or it could have just been the pallor left over from the drinking bout the night before. Anyway they all looked at me with that glint in their eye as if I was in for a potentially perverted experience like going to a strip club with flying monkeys or a backroom orgy with nuns. They were all excited for me and I was feeling a little taller and a little more sassy knowing that I was going to come away from the event a changed man.

He didn't show.

It would have been so much more interesting if I could have said he had staggered out on stage and blew chunks all over the front row of attendees. I was okay with that because I was no where near the front. Or if he had shown up intoxicated terminating the event with a spectacular 360 degree fall into the crowd. I didn't ever get my ticket cost back. They offered, but one thing or another always got in my way actually getting my money back.

That is the closest I came to actually breathing the same fetid air as Dr. Duke.

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Okay I got to say first of all this is a silly, silly book. I had many moments when I wondered why I was reading it at all...well...it might have been because of all those other times when I caught myself snorting with laughter. Thompson called this book a failed experiment, "a style of 'reporting' based on William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism." This book is one of best examples of Gonzo Journalism. Below is the Wikipedia explanation.

"Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word 'gonzo' is believed to be first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. The term has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors."

Synopsis: The journalist Raoul Duke is asked to report on the outcome of the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Las Vegas. He brings his 300+ pound Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo along for the ride. Reporting on the race is soon abandoned as the duo begin experimenting with a cornucopia of recreational drugs. LSD, marijuana, cocaine, mescaline, ether, a pineal gland abstract drug (whoa!!), uppers, downers and all washed down with copious amounts of alcohol. The book is one drug inspired adventure after another. The cocktail of illegal pharmaceutical use brings on imaginary flying bats dive bombing their heads, car crashes, and general mayhem perpetration on the tourists of Las Vegas.

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The artwork of Ralph Steadman really enhanced the experience of reading the book. I have a copy of Animal Farm illustrated by Steadman and in both books he presents a mind bending VISION of events. The splatter of his brush and the drug altered expressions on the faces of the Fear and Loathing characters gave me several chuckles, but also deepened my impression of how really whacked out these guys were. They do as the novel progress start to get a handle on the hallucinations.

"Hallucinations are bad enough. But after a while you learn to cope with things like seeing your dead grandmother crawling up your leg with a knife in her teeth. Most acid fanciers can handle that sort of thing."

And offer sage advice. "One of the things you learn, after dealing with drug people, is that everything is serious. You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug--especially when it's waving a razor-sharp hunting knife in your eyes."

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Look into my EYE...Give me your drugs...Look into my EYE...Do you have more drugs?...Look into my EYE...Find me more drugs.

I do wish that Hunter S. Thompson had shown up for the event. When I was younger I always felt there would be another chance to do everything, but as I've gotten older I've come to realize that we don't get as many opportunities as we think. Thompson may not have been one of my favorite writers, but he was a dynamic personality and he was always an on going story.

“Too weird to live, too rare to die!” Well he did die, but he will certainly never be forgotten.