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Hunter Thompson had a number of admirable writing traits beginning with his rhythm and delivery - Hunter transitioned points and places within his writing with common figures doing off the wall uncommon things. He also invented a literary style, but you already knew that. His brilliance was in those run-on sentences such as: "Presidential politics is a vicious business, even for rich white men, and anybody who gets into it should be prepared to grapple with the meanest of the mean. The White House has never been seized by timid warriors. There are no rules, and the roadside is littered with wreckage. That is why they call it the passing lane. Just ask any candidate who ever ran against George Bush -- Al Gore, Ann Richards, John McCain -- all of them ambushed and vanquished by lies and dirty tricks. And all of them still whining about it."

It was this candidness while using over the top adjectives while not losing or offending readers that endeared him, not his lifestyle - I find that was a real turnoff.

Any who, you seem pretty opinionated and hostile on the subject and it is doubtful that a total stranger is going to shift your position. I don't recall Hunter being overly profane - you might want to give his work a shot - I'd recommend this story: http://www.terminal-d.com/derby.pdf.

I think you have a nice site...


I'm pretty opinionated about everything, but I really was looking for someone to explain HST to me. I haven't read much of his political stuff, as you could probably tell from my comments, but tried to read his stuff on ESPNs site and just couldn't get into it.

I think the number one thing I couldn't get past was his lifestyle. I'll give your recommended reading a try.

Thanks for stopping by. Your's is the kind of comment I was looking for.


Hi Mark,

I couldn’t get your post out of my head yesterday. I kept coming back to it, think about leaving a comment, then not. But I had to add my two cents, for HST has been one of the greatest influences on my life to date. I, for one, love his work, though I realize that his style is not for everyone. (Btw, if all you’ve read of his work are his ESPN pieces, I could understand why you wouldn’t have been that impressed. That is certainly not his greatest work.) Anyway, there are a million tribute pieces now floating in the blogosphere for ya to read, so I won’t rehash them all, but I did want to address your four points.

1. Well, that’s hard to argue with. HST was certainly a hedonist, and it’s certainly your right to hate anything hedonistic. But I would point out that a significant percentage of great art was created by hedonists. What are your thoughts on Oscar Wilde, for instance? Or Arthur Rimbaud? Or Henry Miller? Or James Brown? Or Axl Rose?

2. I disagree with this. His lifestyle was his work, as much as any writer before or since. I do not believe that he would have written better books had he never taken an illicit substance, for instance. I do not believe that Hells Angels would have been a better book had he not embedded himself in the group and lived the same life as they. And I do not believe that everything he wrote can be dismissed so easily “as the ramblings of a drug-addled nut-job.” Even at his most incoherent, I find brilliance in his work and thought process.

3. I do believe that he was a gifted thinker and communicator. I find his writings full of brilliant insight. Certainly it was obvious that Nixon was a cancer on America, but HST’s probing of Nixon did not end with that simple fact. Many people, myself included, consider Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail one of the single greatest books about a political campaign ever written. And there’s a meme floating around out there that HST was, in a sense, the first blogger. I find that position to have a lot of merit.

4. Sure, there is the occasional four-letter word sprinkled liberally amongst his writings, but he is certainly not alone in that regard. I do not find his work overly profane, nor do I feel he relied too heavily on the four-letter word in his work. His vocabulary was as deep and robust as any other journalist that I’ve read.

As for his lifestyle, again I suggest that you look at the all the books and records on your shelf. I’d be surprised if you can vouch for the lifestyles of each and every one of them.

Anyway, I’m sure I won’t convince you of my point of view, nor will you convince me of yours. But I appreciate your opinion, and even more so your opening up this post to those who may disagree. A friendly discussion of opposing views is always welcomed.

I like your blog a lot. And keep watching Ed!



This is exactly the kind of dialogue I was hoping for. I'm a little concerned that both commenters don't think they can convince me to see HST differently. My opinion of Thompson, obvious in my apparently mistaken view of him as profane, if that of an outsider looking in. I know there is a lot of snarkiness out there on blogs (mine included) but I sincerely was looking to be convinced of the man's genius. Jon's right in saying that I have to get past Thompson's lifestyle - which I'm not sure I can do. I hadn't thought of the fact that you can't separate Thompson's (or any other writer's) lifestyle from their works. Without the life he led, there wouldn't be any "works of HST."


“I'm a little concerned that both commenters don't think they can convince me to see HST differently.”

I’d say that when posting a comment that is not entirely in agreement with the original post, some of us feel the need to step gingerly. You never know who the person on the other end of the line is, and how they will take such comments. One person’s lively discussion is another person’s bitch-slap.

That said, there’s nothing I would like better than to someday see a glowing review of Hell’s Angels or Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail on The Long Cut.


Also, most people don't want to be convinced. Most people don't want to have their minds changed. Most people don't want their thoughts provoked. This is why I like you, Mark, cuz you aint' most people.


Hey Rube!

Written by the Doctor on 9/17/2001


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