New Series “Vegas Myths Busted” Takes on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
A new series called “Vegas Myths Busted” has just taken on the iconic Hunter S. Thompson work, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Thompson, who died by suicide 18 years ago, is well-known for his gonzo journalism style. Many fans regard his 1972 book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as a true account of events. However, as it turns out, only about 25% of the events in the book actually happened.
Thompson never claimed that the events described in the book were true. The story is narrated by one Raoul Duke, a character who never actually existed, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo. The book is based on Thompson’s experiences while covering the Mint 400 off-road vehicle race and the National District Attorneys Association’s Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in Las Vegas.
Interestingly, Thompson’s original idea was to buy a notebook and record everything as it happened, then send in the notebook for publication without editing. However, he ultimately imposed a fictional framework on what began as a piece of straight journalism.
Many of the events described in the book, including the drug use and hotel room trashing, were actually fictional. In fact, Thompson admitted in a letter to his editor that there was no actual drug use involved, and a good portion of the book’s action never happened. For example, in the book, Duke and Dr. Gonzo ran up a hotel room service bill of $29 to $36 an hour for 48 consecutive hours. However, a hotel publicity executive at the time confirmed that this event never took place.
Despite the fictional aspects, there is still some truth in the book. A portion of the dialog in the book is a transcription of an audiotape of Thompson and his attorney Acosta visiting a taco stand in Boulder City, Nevada. The line “We’re looking for the American dream, and we were told it was somewhere in this area,” is taken directly from that tape.
In essence, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is a mixture of fact and fiction, with only about 25% of the events described in the book actually occurring. The book’s cover further blurs the line with its prominent feature of actor Johnny Depp, who played Raoul Duke in the 1998 film adaptation. Thompson admitted that the book was a conscious attempt to simulate a drug freakout, and he ultimately imposed a fictional framework on what began as a piece of straight journalism.