Reading fun

19 Sep 2003

I’m slowly getting back into reading fiction - doing the final stages of the PhD fried my brain too much for me to care much for yet more reading. Anyway, this last week I’ve ready Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Bradbury reminds me a lot of Philip K. Dick, both in this and a few of his short stories which I read recently, but I have to confess to preferring Dick’s work. Fahrenheit 451 seems to be quite famous, amybe because of the film of the book (which I’ve never seen), but whilst it’s a good novel, it’s not fantastic. I guess that tales of futuristic police states these days are plentiful, so it suffers in that the concept is no longer new. The book, in my mind, is more a long short story than a novel. Worth a read if it’s kicking about, but I’d not go out my way to locate it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the otherhand is a really good book. I got this because, despite having seen the film of the same name which I wasn’t particularly impressed with, I’d heard interesting things about Hunter S. Thompson (this is from Neil’s brother Brian, who once walked into a cinema during the Edinburgh film Festival and bought 86 tickets in one 45 minute transaction - you’ve got to like the guy’s style ;) so thought I’d give the book a whirl. The book documents a week in Las Vegas spent by Thompson in 1971 in the companionship of his Attorney, and it involves them taking and awful, awful lot of drugs. What the book does, which the film failed to recreate, is give you a very vivid description of what it was like being in a weird town (I suspect Vegas is bad enough without the drugs) and trying to be a journalist at various events whilst not being fully in control. The pretext of the book is that they’re searchng for the American Dream, but forget about that, it only seems to crop up in the last chapter in order to tie everything up. Read this book for the outragous happenings.

As an aside, the film of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was quite weird, in that it absorbed you for two hours, and then you left the cinema and realised there seemed to have been no point to what you’d experienced for the last two hours. Reading the book I feel that’s okay as you get the fantastic descriptions of their days in Vegas, but the film didn’t really capture it as well, so was left a little lacking. Ho hum.