From the Executive Director

“All great works of literature establish a genre or dissolve one.” –Walter Benjamin, critic

On Saturday, November 7, the Carnegie Center will mark its fourth annual Carnegie Classics event with a celebration of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. As we have with our three previous tributes – To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and Catcher in the Rye – we will invite you to step into the pages of a literary classic.

For one night, the Carnegie Center will become Hunter S. Thompson’s Las Vegas, 1971.

Fear and Loathing is a challenging book, and some readers can’t get past the heroes’ enthusiasm for danger and drugs. But a deep reading of this cult classic reveals something more than a Cadillac full of hallucinogens: Fear and Loathing is the first book in which a member of the 1960s counterculture looks squarely at the movement’s results – and declares it a failure.

“You can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West” toward the San Francisco Bay Area, where the movement began, “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,” writes Thompson.

Thompson (1937-2005), who grew up in Louisville and is a member of the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame, created a new nonfiction genre – Gonzo journalism – to help tell his counterculture story. Fear and Loathing was the first full-length book in the Gonzo style, which features first-person, subjective, often irreverent prose. The book’s title itself has become part of the English language; a Google search finds 11 million references to “Fear and Loathing.”

We invite you to join us for a Gonzo evening at the Carnegie Center. Come as you are – or as you were in 1971. We’ll have live rock music from the era, visual art, a Vegas-style buffet, open bar and literary surprises that you won’t soon forget.


Neil Chethik
Executive Director