Monday, July 14, 2008

Loving 'Fear and Loathing' in Tallahassee.

I was at Borders last Friday, reading a section of Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady. It's an interesting novel so far, but it takes its time with things -- descriptions of characters go on for pages, and much of the action happens in people's heads. I finished a chapter and took a break to walk around.

I spotted a display of books and saw if there was anything I was interested in. After a moment, I spotted Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It had the movie cover (Johnny Depp's distorted face snaking up vertically) and all I could think of was how thoroughly uninterested I was in the movie.

I grabbed it anyway and headed back to flip through a couple of pages. 50 pages later, I decided that it must be my next read, and, reserving a copy from the library, I promptly blazed through the book in three days. It's not that hard to do -- very easy to understand. Very action-packed.

It was possibly the farthest extreme from Henry James, and it made me want to see the movie again. One of the things I gathered from the reading was that I treat my body and my car very well, and there is much I could do to push the boundaries of both. The Big Lebowski also showed this to me, but I am not too interested in doing anything from either of those two things (except maybe going bowling).

Fear and Loathing is pretty absurd, and as I made my way through the text I found it extremely difficult to determine how much weight I would give to the classification of "nonfiction / journalism" that was printed on the back cover. Thompson makes strong, serious points in the midst of some very humorous scenes, and the whole thing comes off as powerful as Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse-Five. The war here is the war on drugs, and Thompson delivers the battle reports from the drug culture side of things through a frenetic, paranoid state.

It's a quick, light read. Now back to Mr. James.

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Update: I knew it! I know nothing of Thompson or this book, but I had a feeling that it was more or less true, but it had to be fictionalized at points, of course. Don't find me naive.

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