Book of the Week

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Hello, fellow Skyline students! Welcome back to Book of the Week, the place where I, Kyle Chidester, get to tell you what you should read.

In memory of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, the Skyline View staff agreed I should inform you of his great book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” This book is a devilish scramble in search of what the “American Dream” is, but gets savagely distorted through the violent abuse of dangerous drugs.

The main character, Raoul Duke, is a paranoid, schizophrenic doctor of journalism, and is, in fact, Thompson himself. He is constantly blaming Thompson for many of the shenanigans that he is actually responsible for. Originally, Duke is sent to Las Vegas with his attorney to cover the Mint 500, a wild desert race for dirt bikes and dune buggies. The story is relatively impossible to cover, especially with a head full of acid. So Duke attempts to find the “American Dream” somewhere out on “The Strip.” Many sleepless nights feature him and his attorney getting themselves completely twisted on as many psychotropic substances possible, and they begin to realize that Vegas is a deranged place to inhabit. Soon Duke’s attorney begins to sink into what they call “the FEAR” and flees from the story.

Duke remains for a few days, but realizes that he is beginning to crack under the pressures of “the FEAR” on his own. So, he decides to flee as well. The high-speed escape is placed in a slight hiatus when he is pulled over by a highway patrol. Somehow he’s able to talk his way out of speeding while drunk! He reaches a pay phone in a small remote desert town and calls his attorney just to find that he must return to Vegas for coverage of the District Attorney Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs–an awfully bad place to go when whacked out. But return to Vegas he does, and with a change of cars and a new hotel room, he confidently enters this ironic story.

His attorney returns with a creeped-out girl who has a head full of acid and a strange affinity for Barbra Streisand, and tries to explain to Duke how this came to be. But this is just not good enough for Duke, and insists that they must get rid of her. After dropping her off somewhere in the desert, they return to the hotel and their wild ride for the “American Dream” continues to take some twists and turns in the most sadistic ways after Duke sucks down a vial of human adrenaline. He slips into a paralyzed stupor for the next few days, all of which is rather a blur. After finally coming to a point of relative sobriety, he tries to recall the passing events but has only a tape recorder to decipher from.

Through his tragically inane ramblings, he is never really able to discover the exact meaning of the “American Dream” but does realize that our interpretation is usually based upon following a leader to some impending doom, such as the acid wave of the ’60s and its eventual demise at the death of Tim Leary. But for those of us that are willing and able to rise into the position of leader, we have the chance to turn our own mucky desires into full fledged realities, hopefully not to the same sour ending as dear Mr. Leary.

This book is a document of one man’s insane journey into his most primal urges to find what drives us as humans to try and succeed. I hope that all of you out there take a chance with this novel. Even if you are not a fan of the drug culture, it is a beautifully written retrospect of the society we all live in. Don’t just watch only the movie version, because the book is mightier than the box.