Many thanks to everyone who entered our competition to define gonzo journalism in one tweet! It’s amazing to think that even though it’s been nearly 7 years since Hunter S Thompson’s death, his gonzo writing still triggers such enthusiasm and wit!
It was as difficult to pick a winner as it is for scholars, journalists and fans to define Hunter S Thompson’s unique gonzo style. Nonetheless, readers of this blog and Hunter S Thompson are a wild intelligent bunch, unafraid to pick up the gauntlet of this challenge. It was genuinely difficult to make a decision (if fact, we were only going to give away 3 books, but I picked 4 in the end…) but I am delighted to announce the following winners!
Simon Cassidy: ‘Gonzo is the blue, hairy, long nosed companion of conventional journalism, born out of whiskey and bat country.’
Sean Adams: ‘Gonzo's a green-eyed grunt echoing around a ice palace. Outside, the others wait for confirmation that the nuclear war is over’
From one of our emailers, Gareth Jones: ‘Intuiting the truth, bantering with it, barking at it and biting at it to reveal the dark heart lurking behind the golden mask’
Sophie Ellis: ‘Gonzo journalism is like crawling through a cactus field – Painful, thirsty work, but you feel pretty holy by the end of it’
Can you all direct message me your addresses and I will send you a copy of our exciting new book on Hunter S Thompson by William Stephenson, Gonzo Republic: Hunter S Thompson's America!
Special mentions have to go out to the following people for their funny and intelligent entries which I absolutely loved as well!
Jeff Scott, Platypus PR: ‘LitSmacking, brain quenching, base tasting, cool crushing, high talking, fast living, still giving, always fizzing….Hunter!’
Josh Reynolds: ‘If there is any boundary in literature, gonzo journalism takes that line and snorts it’
Adam Ridwan: ‘Gonzo lives up to its namesake from the muppets. A blue, hairy, untameable, unidentified, wild-eyed animal’’
T H Jones: ‘Gonzo is when one realizes the disturbing treachery of the world calls for one to carry extra mace’
It has to be said that Hunter S Thompson’s own succinct and evocative definition can perhaps never be bettered: ‘It was like falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool full of mermaids’. 30 years of scholarship certainly has yet to arrive at a definite version. William Stephenson, author of Gonzo Republic, skilfully cuts through the exaggeration, misdirection and the shadow of the Gonzo hyperbole in his description of Hunter S Thompson’s famous style of writing:
'Gonzo suggested the capering of the holy fool, exposing the shortcomings of the society around him even as he flouted its rules of acceptable behaviour, either through the lowering of inhibitions brought on by drink and drugs, or just through not caring. Gonzo writing was born of spontaneous outrage, fuelled by chemicals and manifested in a decentred, broken-down prose of loose grammar and scattergun syntax, holed by ellipses and fractured by sudden jumps in perspective or subject matter. It allowed Thompson’s quest for freedom to find expression not just in what he wrote, but in how he wrote it. He flouted the conventions of journalism and fiction and violated the rules of syntax in order not only to represent drugged consciousness, but also to subvert the premises of the state…
Gonzo journalism depends not on self-absorption but on perception that is often all too painful. It is a form of active resistance to literary, journalistic and social convention; by abandoning nominally “objective” reporting, Thompson turned away from the “ truth” determined by metropolitan editors and their establishment paymasters, and lit out for his own frontier.'
– the above extract was taken from chapter 1 of Gonzo Republic: Hunter S Thompson's America. You can read the whole chapter by clicking on the preview button below.