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Interview

Fear and Loathing Books p1

It’s almost like there’s some kind of unwritten list of “cool” books that people read from their late teens onward; as though some anonymous committee of old hippies, backpackers, and uni students put it together. The list includes books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson; On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and the novels of William Burroughs. If you’re looking for more fear-and-loathing type books, you might find a few interesting ones here.

Fans of the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas might try Danny Sugarman’s memoir, Wonderland Avenue.

This is a Fear and Loathing-style book about Sugarman’s friendship with Jim Morrison, his career as the teenage manager of The Doors, and his excessive lifestyle in L.A..

The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan:

Two cowboy hitmen are hired to kill a monster under a house in Oregon.

Brautigan had a unique writing style, which was funny and beautiful.

Other titles include Sombrero Fallout; and An Unfortunate Woman.

Post Office by Charles Bukowski:

Most of Bukowski’s novels are based on the alcoholic author’s life in L.A.. A contagious, chatty writing style, funny and fearless, with profound insights into life.

Other titles include Factotum; Hollywood, and Ham on Rye.

Ask the Dust by John Fante:

An author who inspired Charles Bukowski.

Pop. 1280; and The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson: Amoral crime fiction with a sense of humor.

Jim Thompson turns hard-boiled crime fiction, or pulp fiction, into literature.

There is also a great biography of Jim Thompson, called Savage Art by Robert Polito.

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy:

Probably the best crime writer since Chandler and Thompson, James Ellroy knows police and the history of L.A. back to front.

His narrators often speak in a 1940s and ‘50s hipster lingo, which adds another dimension to his novels.

Amoral crime fiction concerned with perennial evils.

Blood Meridian; and No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy:

The first is a tale of 19th century Indian-hunters, featuring the diabolic Judge Holden.

The second is more of a crime genre novel set in modern times, with some western elements, and another psycho running around causing mischief.

It shows that page-turning plots and literary novels don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin:

I couldn’t wait to get back to this book each day.

Vampires on a Mississippi river boat, featuring a touching friendship between a vampire and a river boat captain.

Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller:

A writer with a love of words and life, advocating self-liberation.

Tropic of Capricorn, first published in Paris in 1938, is a sexually explicit novel set in 1920s New York, where the narrator works for the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company. (Henry Miller worked for the Western Union Telegraph Company in New York.)

Other great novels include Tropic of Cancer and Plexus.

Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald:

Written like a travel memoir of a guy wandering around England, but also a work of fiction, the book has a haunting and nostalgic tone.

He uses photos in the text, and has an interesting style: the narrator will come across a herring fisherman and then there’ll be pages of exposition about the history of herring fishing.

Austerlitz is another fine novel by the same author.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe:

A work of “New” Journalism where the author travels with Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the Merry Pranksters on a psychedelic bus trip in the 1960s.

Skywriting by Word of Mouth by John Lennon: Brilliant wordplay.

Earlier books include A Spaniard in the Works, and In His Own Write.

Chronicles by Bob Dylan: See the love of folk music and reading that went into making the song-writing genius.

A well-structured book, without a straight-forward chronology.

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