Hunter S. Thompson is Overrated

Hunter S. Thompson is Overrated
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, file

It started with breakfast. “Four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of keylime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert.”

All of which should be enjoyed alone, “outside in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked”.

To a certain man of a certain age — me in my late teens, to be specific — there was something heroic about the way Hunter S. Thompson liked to start the day.

But it wasn't just breakfast. Discovering Thompson's journalistic feats was a thrill. Decades after it was first committed to print, the hard-drinking, gun-toting “gonzo” journalist's jagged, violent prose couldn't fail to excite.

Hell's Angels (1967) was a gory close-up of America's most notorious bicycle gang. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971) was a novelistic account of a drug-fuelled journey to Las Vegas in search of the American dream. His coverage of the 1972 presidential election for Rolling Stone was published as Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. In these books and scores of articles, Thompson brought scenes to life in an instantly recognisable style that was exaggerated, eccentric, breakneck and captivating. His work captured the mood and made him famous.

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