Today we begin our Hunter S Thompson fortnight to celebrate the publication of Gonzo Republic: Hunter S Thompson's America and to coincide with the anniversary of his death on the 20th Feb. We will be tweeting daily Hunter S Thompson quotes (ranging from the surreal to funny, provocative to poignant, and, in some cases, spookily prophetic), running a competition to win 3 copies of the book, featuring a guest post from the author on this blog and posting up exclusive sneak-peeks from the book. Make sure that you follow us on twitter so you don’t miss any of these Hunter S Thompson treats!
To kick-start our celebration of this exciting new book, I have created a special digital preview of the entire first chapter from Gonzo Republic in which the author, William Stephenson, discusses aspects of Thompson’s early life, his manipulation of authorship, celebrity and the Gonzo persona, as well as his portrayal of the fractures in America’s national façade: Gonzo style as a cracked mirror of a broken nation.
The book goes on to further analyse Thompson's complex relationship with America – as the author, chapter by chapter, shows us how his writing dissects all the major political and cultural upheavals of mid to late twentieth century American life. From the race riots via Vietnam to 9/11, drug culture, the Kennedy assignation to Watergate, through to his twenty-first-century internet columns on sport and politics, no stone is left unturned in this compelling study. In addition, the book also reviews the industry of films and programmes about Thompson, plus the various adaptations of his work.
Let me leave you with one more Hunter S Thompson treat – a copy of the letter that he wrote in 1958 applying for a job at the Vancouver Sun (published in The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1)
TO JACK SCOTT, VANCOUVER SUN
October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City
I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I'd also like to offer my services.
Since I haven't seen a copy of the "new" Sun yet, I'll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn't know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I'm not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.
By the time you get this letter, I'll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I'll let my offer stand. And don't think that my arrogance is unintentional: it's just that I'd rather offend you now than after I started working for you.
I didn't make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he'd tell you that I'm "not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person." (That's a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)
Nothing beats having good references.
Of course if you asked some of the other people I've worked for, you'd get a different set of answers.
If you're interested enough to answer this letter, I'll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.
The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It's a year old, however, and I've changed a bit since it was written. I've taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you're trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I'd like to work for you.
Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.
I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don't give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.
I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.
It's a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I'd enjoy the trip.
If you think you can use me, drop me a line.
If not, good luck anyway.
Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson
(and if that has whetted your appetite for Hunter S Thompson related letters, do take a look at our blog post – and video – of Johnny Depp reading some aloud!)