fear and loathing
That is a scan of my copy of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, it’s the first mass-market paperback edition, and the date inside is 1982, which is about right – I would have been 18, middle of my freshman year at college, and I could buy any book I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. I would bet that I bought this at either the original Coliseum Books location on Columbus Circle, or the old Scribner’s bookstore on Fifth Avenue (which I loved because it was such an old-fashioned looking bookstore, walking in there felt like entering another world). The book is worn and frayed and dog-eared and obviously considered to be part of my core library, and as such has travelled over 17,000 miles (I am not exaggerating).
I am trying desperately to remember how I stumbled onto Hunter Thompson, what was the six degrees of separation that led me there. I would love to know what exactly sparked my 18-year-old interest to get this book — it certainly wasn’t part of freshman curriculum, after all– or if it was just my general ravenous hunger to learn everything about the 60’s and early 70’s, from Kerouac to Kesey, Beatles to Black Sabbath.
I know I read this book at least a dozen times, trying to understand it. I know I did not understand it whatsoever the first handful of times, but I kept trying. But even when I didn’t understand a thing, or only partly grasped what was going on, I know it influenced me greatly. Struggling through classes like “Ethics In Journalism,” the whole “gonzo journalism” principle was greatly appealing to me. I don’t pretend to come anywhere close or approach his stature, but Fear and Loathing had a decided impact on me.
I know it is not very modern or PC to admire excess in the fashion he pioneered, and I am heartily tired of drugs claiming the best and the brightest, but there is a tiny part of me that is envious to have missed that decade.
He was a legend, he was one-of-a-kind, he was influential on several generations and will likely continue to be. It is so very sad that he could not tame his internal demons and that they won the battle, and it is sad he is no longer on the planet.
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