Sunday, December 6, 2009

What I'm Reading

Just finished two books this week--Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. I know it sounds like an odd combination, but if you know me you'll see how fitting it is. I'd never read either of these texts, though I've sorely wanted to for some time. Thompson's text made me feel...kind of like I was crazy or delirious. His language is harsh and lovely, and I've certainly found what is to be "my" quote for some time to come:
"A flashing of Knives and Green Water"
and also perhaps (in a different context):
It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant... 
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of 'history' it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour... booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turnoff to take when I got to the other end... but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: no doubt at all about that...

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...
And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
Thompson's language here is just...beautiful and haunting and incredibly fitting for the text and the context. I encourage everyone to read it. Also, for those of you who accompanied me on my previously-alluded-to Vegas trip--the carousel bar in Circus-Circus is totally the same one from this book/movie. Just thought you should know. I'm sad I didn't know this when I was there, or I'd have a picture.

Peter Pan, on a different note, is completely enchanting. None of the film adaptations I've seen has quite captured the feeling this book gives you when you read it. It's full of the romance and thrill that I almost remember my childhood encapsulating. I can't even quote from it because I feel you should be in your own right place when you sit down to read this for the first time. And you all should. (It's short!)

Incidentally, the illustration above is part of a collection of lovely Peter Pan illustrations I've found online. See them here, you won't regret it!


  1. What a lovely review of the Peter Pan story. I like the approach you use to compel someone to read it. I have already, of course.

    There's also this book to read, based on Barrie's own idea for more:


  2. Wow, very cool. I'll have to add that to my ever-growing list of books to read. Thanks!

  3. That was (one of) my favorite quote from F&L. I have that poster, hah. It's what I stare at when I need inspiration.
    I've gotta ask: have you seen the movie of it? because that quote, they did it pretty decent in the movie. It fills me with an unmovable melancholy.