A few weeks ago marked the five year anniversary of Hunter S. Thompson’s death. Living in Aspen a majority of his later years, most Colorado college writing students are familiar with HST and his gonzo style writing. Hunter S. Thompson was very often tossed off by mainstream journalists as a dope fiend, lazy, and hazardous to the image of his professed career. Yet an in depth study of his writings shows a different HST: a conscientious writer who knew what he was attempting with his writing.
HST was an adolescent who was so focused on writing, he was willing to put himself through exercises that few English teachers (even the harshest) would suggest. He was an author who was willing to sacrifice comfort and safety in order to have complete understanding and factual basis before writing.
This does not add up to an author who was haphazardly a journalist because there was nothing else to keep him out of poverty, creating a form of writing along with a style and voice that occurred accidently due to drug use and laziness. Taking the best and learning from the worst reactions to beat poets and writers, barely a half generation older, Thompson created a form of social criticism and satire that would not only be publishable and taken seriously by those who agreed but could be thrown off as inconsequential by those who did not.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was not a book about drugs. Thompson’s books on political campaigns were not just feeding a personal addiction. All HST’s writings were attempting to make very serious points regarding the state of democracy in America and the idyllic American Dream.
A dope fiend, very likely, but Hunter S. Thompson was not a lackadaisical author. Even his procrastination is evidence of his genius, intentionally placing ideas, patterns, and style within his writing while appearing as if he could care less. Hunter S. Thompson was the perfect author for the first of many apathetic and disenfranchised generations.
Recommended HST writings include:
Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist. Simon & Schuster: New York, NY. 2000.
Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Random House, Inc: New York, NY. 1971.
Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72. Warner Books: New York, NY. 1973.
Thompson, Hunter S. Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the 80’s. Simon & Schuster: New York, NY. 1988.