The screen is fuzzy. A red Chevrolet Caprice convertible is casually bowling between the vast dustlands of the
If you’ve read Fear and Loathing in
Although The Sun Does Not Exist is based on these characters and their strange trip to
There’s none of the biting criticism of the American Dream, of the post-Vietnam US, or the pot-smoking hippies. Instead, The Sun Does Not Exist reduces Fear and Loathing to its most iconic images: Bat country, a red car cruising the desert roads, the outrageous shirts, a drug-induced state between reality and fiction.
Its finest moments are the developer’s pit-stop elaborations. The Chevrolet runs out of fuel and so you must guide Gonzo into a silent motel. Inside is a corridor with doors that warp over the walls and ceilings; they’re either locked or the handle is out of reach.
Inside one dark room, turning on the light switch causes Gonzo to say, “An empty room.” But there it is: A giant silhouetted face, blinking, staring right at him. He ignores it. It’s the mescaline, right? The naked corpse of a young woman in the next room—a gun in her limp hand—gives you doubts. A few seconds later and Gonzo falls over his own feet as canned laughter cuts through the creepiness the motel sustains. You might feel a nervous giggle escape you.
The Sun Does Not Exist captures the inane, psychoactive journey of Duke and Gonzo with aplomb. It does, however, reduce the novel to delighting in the very thing it criticizes. But its mixture of the unnerving and amusing is easily appreciated in its own right. To not see that you’d have to be as blind as Gonzo after he meets the shopkeeper shark in the woods.
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