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By the second page of Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 volume Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas we know that the author-as-character is thoroughly immersed in the drug culture. Readers learn they are about to witness events in which drugs will play an important part. Thompson takes great care to list those drugs. In his character's possession are blotter acid (lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD-25), mescaline, cocaine, ether, amyl nitrate, tequila, rum, beer, and "a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers . . . ." For Thompson to carry off his drug motif and build on its accompanying analogies, it is of the utmost importance that he retains credibility in the handling of this subject matter. He does this effectively because the implication is that his expertise is due largely to personal experience. While this credibility may be more important to that portion of his readership comprising fellow users, it is equally important for the remainder of the audience to be aware of such hidden implications, for the book's overall structure bears a remarkable similarity to an hallucinogenic drug experience. To be unaware of this fact and of drug users' language may lead to premature dismissal of Thompson's work by the non-user.

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©1985 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa



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