TravelEtc: Grand Tours; `Man, This Is the Way to Travel' ; Great Writers and Their Adventures in Literature. This Week, Hunter S Thompson on the Road to Las Vegas
Notorious for his penchant for shooting anyone he took exception to, Hunter S Thompson (born in 1939 in Louisville, Kentucky) was the founder of the `New Journalism', where the reporter takes centre stage, taking him `into the middle of whatever I'm writing about'. This led to many bizarre incidents and idiosyncratic reportage on such subjects as the Hell's Angels, shark-hunting and political campaign trails. `Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', from which the excerpt below was taken, was first published in installments in `Rolling Stone' magazine in 1971 and was an immediate success as a book. Now reportedly living in a shack in the Arizona desert with a dwarf manservant, Thompson is said to have his various commissions delivered to him on a silver tray
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We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive ...". And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus? What are these goddamn animals?"
Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.
It was almost noon, and we still had more than a hundred miles to go... Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. Press registration for the fabulous Mint 400 was already underway, and we had to get there by four to claim our sound-proof suite. A fashionable sporting magazine in New York had taken care of the reservations, along with this huge red Chevy convertible we'd just rented off a lot on the Sunset Strip ... and I was, after all, a professional journalist; so I had an obligation to cover the story, for good or ill.
The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy- five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high- powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers ... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.
All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of high-speed driving all over Los Angeles County - from Topanga to Watts, we picked up everything we could get our hands on. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
"Man, this is the way to travel," said my attorney. He …
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Publication information: Article title: TravelEtc: Grand Tours; `Man, This Is the Way to Travel' ; Great Writers and Their Adventures in Literature. This Week, Hunter S Thompson on the Road to Las Vegas. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 3, 2002. Page number: 24. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.