I’ve watched the movie they made about this book around four times, and even though some scenes are a little too much, I generally think it a funny and quirky film. I don’t get weirded out easily and my mind can take its fair dose of drug-centered abstract entertainment pretty well, and so the movie sits fine with me.
The book, however, is an entirely different story. Some parts and dialogues are, to put it mildly, disgusting. I put it down in the middle and read another book because I so desperately needed a break, and that’s saying a lot. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m not a prude. Like I said, I don’t get weirded out easily. But this book actually did it. It weirded me out.
Not because of the drugs, mind you, or not really. The drugs are present throughout the whole book. You practically get high just by reading it, but they never overpower the narrative. In fact, it’s the narrative that’s too much sometimes.
It borders on insanity, completely out of control…
And I usually like it when people get out of control. I think it can be healthy sometimes to blow off some steam sometimes. These guys, however, take it to a whole other level, a dark one.
How dark? Read the book, find out. I don’t really want to repeat it. Some of those scenes are in the movie and I was more or less okay with them, but something about seeing it in print and really getting in the mind of Thompson and seeing how insane he went for a while really makes a difference.
It’s well written, mind you. Or at least I think so. You feel exactly like you’re supposed to feel when you’re reading it: like you’ve been through an an eighty-hour heavy, heavy, HEAVY trip of mescaline, acid, ether, opium, and other drugs I can’t remember. It delivers the contextual reality of the narrator very efficiently, let’s put it that way. It’s also funny sometimes.
And the underlying message is both clear and obscure: that the US in the 70′s was a savage, effed-up world where the American Dream was nothing short of a chimerical nonsense; an ideal, an unattainable desire, fed by the wave of hopes and dreams that the 60′s fueled until everyone discovered that that, too, was also a big old farce.
Because there is no such thing as complete fulfillment. The American Dream is a lie. There’s only men and women trying to survive in the big old jungle we call western civilization.
Pretty cool, Thompson. You kind of nailed it, and for that I give you props and my ever-sought-after literary approval.
But by jove, did you have to be so gosh-darn creepy about it?