This year on July 18th would have been one of the most infamous writers of the 20th century’s 78th birthday. The man and legend that is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. That’s right, Dr. Gonzo himself would have turned the clock to 78 (28 years more than he originally wanted, too). This comes only a few months away from the 10 year anniversary of Hunter’s death. So for this momentous occasion, Rainbow Bazooka and I thought we’d share thoughts on some of the Dr’s work. Here’s 5 of the most interesting pieces:
5. First up we’re going back to the very beginning: Hell’s Angels. This book brought to the public’s attention a writer who they did not quite understand. But they sure as hell did afterwards. This ‘no truth withheld’ account of an experience with the most notorious biker gang in the world, reset the bar of writing. For everyone from Tom Wolfe too the wit and whimsy of the chief of the Angels at the time, Ralph “Sonny” Barger. It is said that ‘Sonny’ only was able to write his recollections of the events of this time, because of Hunter’s “Brilliant writing” There is no doubt that this book deserves a spot in the top 5.
4. It’s very hard to place Hunter’s work in any specific order so this order (in my mind) may change from day to day. So up in 4th place we’ve got The Rum Diary. This was Hunter’s first attempt at writing fiction, which only got published many years after he originally wrote it. What many people don’t see is, while this story is largely fictional, that the main character is based on himself from his time at the very same San Juan newspaper.
3. Now we come to what is probably most people’s list topper, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Now I’d love to sit and talk for hours about the importance of this book. But life is too short and Hunter himself wouldn’t even put this at the forefront. This book is indeed an industry changer but because something is brilliant does that mean that this is all the writer has to give? Absolutely not!
2. Because it’s almost impossible to choose just one part of Hunter’s ‘Gonzo Papers’ essays and letters. I decided the number 2 spot should be the entire Gonzo Papers Anthology. Hunter cannot be set down in a list, so here at the penultimate spot is the entire Gonzo papers. This is probably the best insight in to this man’s brilliant mind. Make no doubt about it, this mammoth book contains a gigantic wormhole into the Dr’s soul.
1. We’re here at the helm folks. And there are very few exceptions to Hunter at his most brilliant, than in his own personal memoirs. That’s right, Kingdom of Fear is leading this race. This is Hunter’s own personal autobiography, and who better to teach the legacy of a genius than the man himself. This book offers many twists and turns and keeps you captivated from bow to stern. This is one of the greatest pieces of published works since Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby in 1925.
So here it is. Some of the most interesting pieces of the father of Gonzo Journalism. To really understand this man, you should read and watch almost everything that even remotely has some connection with him. He was the most imaginative and yet truthful artist. Yes I’m saying artist. Because in writing if you can compose words like Hunter did, you are indeed a creator of art.
So rest in piece, Dr. Thompson. You will never be forgotten. I’m handing this article in too late to be released on your birthday, with a glass of whiskey on the side of the keyboard and Jefferson Airplane blasting out of my speakers. All in homage to you. I hope you’re proud of one of your literary son’s. Here’s to you, Hunter Stockton Thompson, you beautiful bastard!
Image © Rolling Stone