Fear & Loathing in Hawaii - Book Review

Originally released in 1983, and republished (a limited edition run) in 2005, the book is compiled from Hunter S Thompson’s short-stories, notes and letters from his two 1980s trips to the Big Island. It is intertwined wonderfully with Richard Hough’s 'The Lost Voyage of Captain James Cook', and is certainly one of Hunter’s greatest undiscovered gems.

‘The Curse of Lono’ starts off as an innocent looking assignment to cover the Hawaii Marathon; to investigate the whys, hows, whos and perhaps more importantly what kind of freaks punish themselves this way in the name of sport.

Learning the Xmas season in Hawaii is the annual feast of Lono, the god of excess and abundance, Thompson discovers that the Hawaiians’ thought Cook was the white-faced god Lono. Shortly after this however, they battered him to death with tooth picks; eating his brains with fruit salad for desert, allegedly.

Its undeniably hilarious and classic Thompson; “You think Ralph likes penguins?” he pens. “I stared at the bird. 'Never mind' he said. 'He'd probably kill the poor beast anyway. The British will fuck anything. They're all perverts’.

Not wanting to disrespect local traditions, gonzo-guru Hunter S Thompson accompanied by cult-artist Ralph Steadman bypass the bulk of the race in favour of an excessive commercial fishing trip. Fuelled by a hatred of both running and fishing, but gripped with a passion for spear hunting and mescaline, things quickly get twisted.

Needless to say there was only ever one man for job of scribbling this assignment. It called for a professional journalist and someone who would get the heart of the true story. On a subject so potentially dull and lethargic the only way to ‘sex it up’ would be by yamming a cocktail of chemicals down the good doctors throat and seeing what’s left in his notebook at 7am the next day.

Broaching on subjects like sport, commercial fishing, the property market, and finally hitting gold with his realisation of being born 4000 before the “British had ever even thought of taking a bath!”, the second coming of Lono was born.

For anyone who’s been, or is ever thinking of going to Hawaii, don’t consider risking it until you’ve consumed this book word-for-word. For fans of Thompson it’s another must-read. For fans of marathon running, buy something else. Personally not only has Hunter inspired me to read - and review - Ernest Hemingway, he’s now inspired me to read up about some lost canoeist called Cook too.


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