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Enough Of This Nonsense

July 9, 2008

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.”

Tom Wolfe

 

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,

Ron Mexico

PS: A hefty thanks to John Earl for the fantastic new banner at the top of our site.  

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. hstbooks permalink
    July 10, 2008 9:14 pm

    Ron, I think the people that matter know what Hunter was really about. You mention bitterness and I reckon you hit the nail on the head there. Jealousy too. After all we must remember, yes these folks have stacks of cash and yes some of that cash came from the pen of HST. But what have they got besides the cash?? Nothing, is the answer. What has Hunter got? A legacy that will go down in history along with the best of the best. Hunter S. Thompson will live on in the classrooms, his work is known through the world. He has the respect of some of the finest journalists, politicians, and thinkers. Cash means nothing when put up against respect and a fine mind. So let the pigs rot in their skyscrapers and mansions with their failed books. Can they bring their cash with them?? Where ever they end up their stacks of money will be of no use. There are No pockets in habits. Cheers.

  2. Stewart Nusbaumer permalink
    July 11, 2008 3:08 am

    Yes, a battle is brewing. It’s an old fashion, dirty American legacy fight. Was Hunter a truly great writer or just a showboat? If great, was he always great or did he burn out quickly, or not so quickly? Still, did Hunter’s talent die before Hunter?

    On the one side, there are those who say Hunter was a good writer but the drugs and booze destroyed him decades before his death, so for decades his writing was stale repeat. On the other side, there are those who say that to the end Hunter was still going strong, may not at the tip top of his creative power, still his writing was stomping just about everyone else.

    Now, question for you. Why not names? Let’s understand where people stand, I’m particularly interested in knowing who you think is in the first group because that is the group, in my opinion, that is talking on some thin ice. And when on thin ice, people tend to have some special, or twisted reason for being out there on thin ice.

  3. Lauren permalink
    July 11, 2008 3:06 pm

    Absolutely, Ron. I was listening to NPR the other day and they reviewed Gonzo (liked it, for the most part), but they kept on talking about how he became a caricature of himself once his ‘genius had exhausted’. WTF?! I’ve read a lot of his stuff, and he did not fall off in the later years. He changed, he wrote about different things, he became a little more desperate and angry as time went on, but his genius did not vanish and he never became a caricature. What I think people are reading as caricature was precisely what he WAS and what he always had been. He definitely had a media persona, but he always presented himself as a larger than life figure, cattle-prod and Wild Turkey in hand, giving the finger to the establishment. He did that in 1972 and he did that right up to his death.

    One of the things I love about him, that makes me continue to read his work, is that he never sold out and he never apologized for the way he lived. That takes guts; a lot more than the dingbats who call him washed up will ever have. Couldn’t say it to his face, so let’s say it now he can’t defend himself.

  4. July 13, 2008 2:40 pm

    yahh-

    having read most of his work, i’d say it’s a pretty fine body, and no one out there is doing anything as enjoyable- i still re-read it, when i need a smile, a shot of indignation, or just feel like reading the words of an american legend
    RIP, HST

    i miss you– a lot

  5. July 14, 2008 5:13 pm

    We all miss him, because he was still writing good stuff about the craziness in Washington.

    That’s why some people hate him.

  6. Alex permalink
    July 15, 2008 7:40 am

    Its a shame all this speculation rather than declaration. Why question who he was?
    All us Hunter fans that found inspiration, amusement & exitations that bled into their everyday thoughts & lives know the epic wisdom of The Great Thompson Hunt

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