Feb 22, 2005

no, just loathing

I've been reading the tributes and news articles on the suicide of Hunter Thompson today. These sort of things always give me pause. The death of writers more than any other celebrity make me stop and think. I can remember the same kind of feeling when Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould passed. It's usually a feeling of, "I'm never going to get the opportunity to walk into a bookstore and see a new book by that author." Naturally I already own everything those three writers put out. I'm hoping at least for a few posthumously released collections from Hunter.

From what I've read he seemed like a fire and brimstone type personality. I guess if I ever had a vision of how he would go it would be flipping a red 'vette at 110. Suicide seems the least likely way for him to go. His books always seemed to capture some underbelly to the American way and poke fun, make light of it. What on earth would get him so down that he couldn't make fun of it? Then again I don't see him being the sentimental type. Perhaps some physical ailment would confine him to a bed without the ability to write. I can certainly see him ending it while he had the chance.

Most tributes have pointed to his Fear and Loathing books. Mainly Las Vegas and the Campagin Trail. But the books that made the most impact on me, as I stare at my bookshelf mentally noting the contents of each, were two volumes of letters that were compiled. There is supposed to be a third but I still haven't heard anything about it. I hate compilations of correspondences. I don't know why I picked up the collection in the first place. But the first letters were from a very young age. In high school. I was blown away at a writer, who at that age, could turn a phrase like a seasoned veteran. He was quite frankly a very gifted writer. And his ability to write what, to me, are some of the most beautiful sentences ever written, is what makes him special. He could have been the most anti-gonzo journalist alive. By the book with 't's crossed and 'i's dotted. The craziness wasn't what made him special. Even a technical manual written by Hunter would have been a work to behold.

"There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like his writing too but I found his suicide to be annoying. Suicide in general is annoying and selfish. Wasn't his grandson in the house at the time? Go take a long walk in the woods so your next of kin doesn't have to clean up for God's sake.