In the book The Great Shark Hunt, Thompson refers to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as "a failed experiment in the gonzo journalism" he practiced, which was based on William Faulkner's idea that "the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism — and the best journalists have always known this". Thompson's style blended the techniques of fictional story-telling and journalism.
He called it a failed experiment because he originally intended to record every detail of the Las Vegas trip as it happened, and then publish the raw, unedited notes; however, he revised it during the spring and summer of 1971. For example, the novel describes Duke attending the motorcycle race and the narcotics convention in a few days' time; the actual events occurred a month apart. Later, he wrote, "I found myself imposing an essentially fictional framework on what began as a piece of straight/crazy journalism". Nevertheless, critics call Fear and Loathing Thompson's crowning achievement in gonzo journalism. For example, journalist and author Mikal Gilmore said the novel "feels free wheeling when you read it [but] it doesn't feel accidental. The writing is right there, on the page — startling, unprecedented and brilliantly crafted".