“Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas is a failed experiment in Gonzo Journalism. My idea was to buy a fat notebook and record the whole thing, as it happened, then send in the notebook for publication—without editing. That way, I felt, the eye & mind of the journalist would be functioning as a camera. The writing would be selective & necessarily interpretive—but once the image was written, the words would be final; in the same way that a Cartier-Bresson photograph is always (he says) the full-frame negative. No alterations in the darkroom, no cutting or cropping, no spotting…no editing. But this a hard thing to do, and in the end I found myself imposing an essentially fictional framework on what began as a piece of straight/crazy journalism. ”
In the end I ended up editing Fear and Loathing about 5 times, I think. For example, the two main events covered in the book are the Mint 400 and the District Attorney’s Convention on Narcotics. These two events actually occurred during two separate trips which were about a month apart. However, I eventually ended up combining the two events together in order to increase the feelings of suspense, confusion, insanity and desperation. Some of the drug usage was greatly exaggerated for the same reasons. The section about the adrenochrome was actually entirely made up, although you do have to note that it did not alter the storyline in any major way.
I may have given myself some creative liberties while writing Fear and Loathing, but in the end, the bulk of it is true. By using these creative liberties, Fear and Loathing was able to effectively capture what it felt like to be a part of the 1960’s in the same way that Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby was able to capture the 20’s. The only difference is that mine holds at least some factual basis in reality whereas Fitzgerald’s is entirely made up. Not that Gatsby doesn’t hold any truth to it because it does, It’s just not factual. In the end, I like to think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as “a vile epitaph for the Drug Culture of the Sixties.“
"The main point I want to make about Fear & Loathing is that although it’s not what I meant it to be, it’s still so complex in its failure that I feel I can take the risk of defending it as a first, gimped effort in a direction that what Tom Wolfe calls “The New Journalism” has [had] been flirting with for almost a decade.”