Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE CURSE OF LONO by Ralph Steadman


illustrated by Ralph Steadman & by Hunter S. Thompson

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1983
ISBN: 3822848972
Publisher: Bantam

Fear and Loathing on the Kona coast of Hawaii: Thompson trots out his familiar act as Yahoo-anarchist-poète maudit--but despite a few inspired fits of zaniness, and some appropriately phantasmagoric drawings by Ralph Steadman, it just doesn't work. The Thompson-Steadman vision of Las Vegas made powerful symbolic sense because its neo-Boschian monstrosities seemed like a fun-house mirror of late 1960s America. Here too we get the (literally) incredible boozing and drugs, the violent antics of the journalist (assigned to cover the Honolulu Marathon) gone haywire, the sardonic put-on of outpigging the pigs. This time Thompson fancies himself the reincarnation of the Hawaiian god Lono, a brutal deity in charge of "the season of abundance and relaxation," who sailed away on a three-cornered raft promising to return. In 1779 when Captain Cook dropped anchor in Kealakekua Bay, the eager natives took him for Lono--though not for long. Thompson continually toys with the figure of Cook (as an archetypal arrogant imperialist, quite properly hacked to pieces) and interlards his ravings with many quotations from Richard Hough's The Last Voyage of Captain James Cook--a far more interesting text. Finally, after ignoring the Marathon ("Why do those buggers run? Why do they punish themselves. . . for no prize at all?") and enduring three weeks of furious tropical storms and sodden misery, Thompson saves his strange vacation by landing a 308 lb. marlin hours before flying back to Colorado. The one photo in the book shows Thompson (barely distinguishable from any other lei-garlanded tourist) grasping the dorsal fin of his catch in cool, self-mocking triumph: Lono has arrived. But he hasn't--just an occasionally amusing Haole and generally insufferable wise-ass.