“Hunter was part of a century-old tradition in American letters, the tradition of Mark Twain, Artemus Ward and Petroleum V. Nasby, comic writers who mined the human comedy of a new chapter in the history of the West, namely, the American story, and wrote in a form that was part journalism and part personal memoir admixed with powers of wild invention, and wilder rhetoric inspired by the bizarre exuberance of a young civilization. No one categorization covers this new form unless it is Hunter Thompson’s own word, gonzo. If so, in the 19th century Mark Twain was king of all the gonzo-writers. In the 20th century it was Hunter Thompson, whom I would nominate as the century’s greatest comic writer in the English language.”
Take a good long look at that quote. Tom Wolfe is a man who I, along with millions of others, admire and respect. When he offers his opinion people pay attention and for very good reason. He is not some kind of slack jawed yokel who has just discovered the power of speech. He is a ferociously intelligent man and one of the finest American writers of our time. He is also a gentleman and all round class act. Hunter Thompson was lucky to have him as a friend.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for certain other people in Hunters orbit. Since his untimely death there has been a number of individuals who have consistently leaped at every chance available to publicly bash and smear his standing as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th Century. Recent book publications and documentaries have predominantly featured these “friends” who seem to have no shame in attacking Hunter now that he cannot respond. They claim that towards the end of Hunters career his output was worthless, repetitive and the product of a man who had turned into a sad caricature of himself. Interestingly these claims come from people who had previously profited enormously from his prodigious output. However once Hunter was no longer making money for them, they waited all of about 5 minutes after his funeral before they started sticking the knife in. At best it is misguided over-the-top criticism of a man who was suffering from severe health problems. However one cannot help but think that it reeks of bitterness and cowardice. These people wouldn’t dare criticize Hunter while he could still respond. They knew that it was an argument they would lose, and badly so.
Of course that is not to say that Hunter was producing 100% full octane literary classics in his final years. Only a fool would make that claim. However there is no doubt that he could still put out some truly hilarious and entertaining writing, and when the occasion arose he could still hit the bullseye like no other. Hunter NEVER lost it. Perhaps the only thing that Hunter lost towards the end was the motivation and particularly the energy required to write as only he could. The battles that presented themselves in the 21st Century were meant to be tackled by a young person, and not somebody who was in ill-health. Hunter knew this and no doubt he wished he was 30 years younger so he could go after those bastards in The White House. That’s not to say he didn’t try though. As John Nichols observed – some of Hunters best political writing is evident in his Hey Rube column. His article in the aftermath of 9/11 is proof enough of this and makes a mockery of any claims that he was a washed up loser. Hunter had already taken on Nixon and kicked his ass, it shouldn’t have been his task to do that again with George W. Bush. The fact that nobody stepped up to the plate to do the same with George W. Bush is the abysmal failure of my generation. Well perhaps make that second abysmal failure, voting the idiot into the White House was our biggest without a doubt.
Ok I have gone on enough about this now, the more I think about it the more I am getting pissed off and tempted to name the clowns that are spouting this nonsense. In closing I will leave you with a quote from one of Hunters genuine friends.
“The fact that most of Hunter’s recent books were letters and reprints of columns, like Hey Rube, caused a lot of people to comment that he couldn’t write anything new anymore. But that was bullshit. If he had the time and the muse visited him, and he had the assistance and the help, he could write.”
Sheriff Bob Braudis
All the best,
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