Fear and Loathing in Elko is the name of a short story, written by Hunter S. Thompson, that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine #622, January 1992.

Written in a style very similiar to his ground-breaking Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it is the story of Thompson's (alleged) encounter with future United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as numerous incidents involving firearms, hookers, pornography, crime, and unsurprisingly for Thompson, dead and bloodied sheep. It later segues into a brief description of some time spent in New York, and a vaguely political attack on democracy in the '90's.

Whether the story is true or not, Thompson shows his usual keen journalistic eye, with equal parts sublime euphemism and ludicrous exaggeration. More a surreal adventure than the crazed frenetic activity of Vegas, Elko still manages to convey a wonderful sense of both momentum and urgency.

And, of course, Thompson's evocative use of gentle metaphor hides a kind of beauty that sneaks up on you when you least expect it:

It is autumn, as you know, and things are beginning to die. It is so wonderful to be out in the crisp fall air, with the leaves turning gold and the grass turning brown, and the warmth going out of the sunlight and big hot fires in the fireplace while Buddy rakes the lawn. We see a lot of bombs on TV because we watch it a lot more, now that the days get shorter and shorter, and darkness comes so soon, and all the flowers die from freezing. Oh, God! You should have been with me yesterday when I finished my ham and eggs and knocked back some whiskey and picked up my Weatherby Mark V .300 Magnum and a ball of black Opium for dessert and went outside with a fierce kind of joy in my heart because I was Proud to be an American on a day like this. If felt like a goddamn Football Game, Jann -- it was like Paradise.... You remember that bliss you felt when we powered down to the farm and whipped Stanford? Well, it felt like That.1

Funny in many places, the story (which ran to 8 pages in the original form) is also littered with the incredible drawings by Ralph Steadman, Thompson's long time Gonzo collaborator.

Elko is an exceptionally good piece of writing, almost typical Thompson. But underneath this is a deeply sentimental streak, as if he longs for the good ol' days of guerrilla politics and drug frenzies in small towns on the edge of the Nevada desert.

1: Thompson, Hunter: Fear and Loathing in Elko, Rolling Stone #622, January 1992

with help from gonzo.org, where you can also find a copy of the story.

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