||Hunter S. Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone from 1970 until his last official “dispatch” shortly before his death in 2004. In those three and a half decades, he produced what Paul Scanlon, the magazine’s managing editor in the 1970s, estimates to be a total of almost half a million words, about 250,000 of which appear in this collection. From the 1972 presidential campaign (the original “Fear and Loathing”) and Watergate to Nixon’s funeral, along with whatever events struck his macabre, capricious, drug-fueled fancy, Thompson invented a new style of journalism by reporting the facts as filtered through a surreal, finely tuned sense of the Kafkaesque.
Those familiar with Thompson only by reputation may be surprised to learn how gaspingly, nonstop, laugh-out-loud funny he is. “Fear and Loathing in Elko,” to take one example, is a delirious freefall through the layers of Thompson’s explosive mix of fact and paranoia, allegedly recounting a road trip with Clarence Thomas involving guns, drugs, “The Judge” taking Thompson’s wallet and $20,000, a suicide, near-fatal escapes, Chinese sex dolls and spray cans of black paint applied to his “wanted” vehicle. Even a genteel luncheon with Bill Clinton on the 1992 campaign trail could inspire febrile headlines for Thompson’s canted imagination: “Clinton Injured in Wild Brawl with Dope Fiends: Candidate Denies Drunkenness, Cancels Bus Trip, Flees.”
Appealing to readers with an appreciation for the freakish, Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone will also introduce Thompson to a new generation of readers who will discover they, too, are demented, die-hard fans. —Judith Hawkins-Tillirson, proprietress, Wyrdhoard Books, and blogger at Still Working for Books
Discover: The deranged, grotesque, irrational world of Hunter S. Thompson, lurking just beneath the surface of consensus reality.
|Simon & Schuster, $32.50 hardcover, 9781439165959|
Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson [appeared originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers, 11/11/11]