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The Joke's Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me Hardcover – October 2, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Steadman, who famously illustrated much of Hunter S. Thompson's work, wasn't along for the legendary ride to Las Vegas, but he was there at the birth of gonzo journalism in 1970, and he was there when Thompson's ashes were blasted out of a cannon in 2005. Here, alongside a generous selection of his drawings, he recounts their shambolic adventures together, from the Kentucky Derby to the Rumble in the Jungle to the Kona Coast. While Steadman's slashing, ink-spattered art seems the perfect embodiment of Thompson's booze- and drug-fueled prose, in temperament he was a foil, a Welshman who hated America, while Thompson, in his excess, was perhaps the quintessential American. Steadman genuinely admires his friend's writing but examines his character with clear-eyed honesty and corrects the record as he sees fit. Given the push-pull of their relationship, one wonders if Steadman--an author in his own right--will write his "own" memoir or if he'll be content to be on the record as the level-headed sidekick of the most mythologized journalist of all time. Funny and--unlike his subject--dry. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

PRAISE FOR UNTRODDEN GRAPES
 
"Steadman has traveled to the world's finest wine-making regions and compiled a fabulously entertaining book about his journeys, full of his famously bizarre and amusing art. . . . To that--and to Steadman's wonderful work--we raise a glass." --The Miami Herald
 
"And surely the unlikeliest travel book of the season is Untrodden Grapes, a volume of illustrations by Ralph Steadman, a book that is pure oxymoron. Mr. Steadman's famously anarchic style of drawing is brought to bear upon a global selection of vineyards. Mr. Steadman is on the trail of gonzo wine."--The New York Times
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012824
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Chapman on January 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Artist Ralph Steadman worked with commando journalist Hunter Thompson for over 30 years, and this wonderful book details the high-wire act that working with "The Doktor" truly was. This book debunks Thompson's insecure bellowing that "Steadman can't write". Write he does, and he does it well. Steadman's account of his on-again, off-again, love/hate relationship with the most savage, visceral American writer of our time reads like the diary of a marriage -- which indeed it resembled. Thompson as a person was capable of treachery, petty jealousy, sloth, narsicism, depression, violence, and occasionally, sentimentality and great affection. It's clear that Thompson's writing career was boosted by Steadman's illustrations, and that on occasion Thompson resented it, wanting to be remembered as a serious writer in the style of Hemingway or Faulkner, not a drug-swilling, epithet-spewing cartoon character.

Through it all, Steadman serves as the perpetual straight man (although with a wicked touch of Peck's Bad Boy and a horror of American politics and excess), forgiving his friend's moods and abuse, but never forgetting. It's clear that they had some wonderful adventures and times together, and though Steadman's ambivalence towards his friend in later life is obvious, it remains the most honest portrait yet of the dear, departed Prince of Gonzo, and also of the man who describes himself as Thompson's "Sancho Panza." A must for Thompson and Steadman fans alike.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on January 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Few people knew Hunter S. Thompson as well as Ralph Steadman did. Over thirty-five years, they collaborated on articles for Rolling Stone (including the counterculture phenom, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), and documenting the stories that shaped America from the 70s to the 90s, including events as diverse as The Kentucky Derby, Watergate and the Foreman/Ali fight. Their collaboration gave birth to "Gonzo Journalism*."

In this memoir, Steadman recounts a turbulent and wild working relationship and friendship with Thompson--both the fun and games as well as the paranoia and betrayals.

It's a wild ride. Steadman's casual prose style captures the voice of the chaos that whirled around Hunter Thompson. And he doesn't hold back--his prose, like his drawing style, is raw and vivid. There is, as would be expected, lots of bad behavior in this book.

Thompson was a guy who never expected to live beyond the age of 30--that he waited 67 years before killing himself with a shotgun was surprising, even to his closest friends. So he lived without a future, in a way, or at least without considering it: drugs, alcohol, guns, women--and his writing, which in many ways seemed to be as much a vice as the rest.

The book is strongest when using text from the actual letters, faxes and answering machine messages that punctuated Steadman and Thompson's relationship, and Steadman's drawings help to make Gonzo real, even to someone not at all familiar with his or Thompson's work.

Steadman himself admits he is a better artist than writer, but, in true Gonzo style, he makes up for that by immersing himself, and us, into the actual world.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By William Rieger on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are passages in this volume which will cause your heart to weep. Steadman is no slouch with the written word. His recounting of the Kentucky Derby episode had me LOL. When he does address the dark side of his departed friend, you feel as though there's no axe to grind, merely an attempt to set the record straight.

If you've been drawn to HST's work over the years, then this effort by Steadman should take its rightful place on the bookshelf next to Thompson's works. Part memoir, part elegy, it gives another insight into the "bad craziness" that made Hunter S. Thompson tick.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Author Ralph Steadman was a young Welsh artist on assignment when he went to the Kentucky Derby in 1970 on assignment and met co-journalist Hunter S. Thompson. THE JOKE'S OVER: BRUISED MEMORIES: GONZO, HUNTER S. THOMPSON, AND ME offers a survey of one of media's most classic duos, examining the evolution of their relationship over the decades and the journeys and encounters which began with that fateful meeting in 1970. Steadman's illustrations for each story pair with his tales, reprints of letter exchanges between the two offer insights on journalistic and personal experiences and issues, and any interested in Thompson or the two must have this.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Antipodean Gonzo fan on January 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steadman provides readers with a frank assessment of his times with Hunter S Thompson. The gods were kind to us mortals for throwing Hunter and Ralph together. The Gonzo books and articles, pairing Thompson's words and Steadman's illustrations, resulted in wholes much greater than the sum of the individual parts. This book is a very welcome, very well written and illustrated perspective on Gonzo - bruises and all. Thanks Ralph.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on January 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really find Ralph Steadman to be a very interesting person; an opinion which was shared, no doubt, by Hunter S. Thompson who provided him with a trove of faxes and letters over the course of their multi-decade friendship and professional association. The great allure of this work is that the author fills it with primary source materials which document the depression, anger, paranoia, and euphoria of the Gonzo Master, yet this is also a problem for the book. At times it is very choppy and feels more like a cut-and-paste job than a true narrative. I had to give it three stars though because it obviously illuminates Thompson's personality and it provides us with details that would be very difficult to find elsewhere. It's an important document despite its lack of flow.
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