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The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1) Paperback – April 7, 1998
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This first volume of the correspondence of Hunter S. Thompson begins with a high school essay and runs up through the publication of Thompson's breakout book, Hell's Angels. Thompson apparently never threw a letter away, so the reader has the treat of experiencing the full evolution of his pyrotechnic writing style, rant by rant. The letters--to girlfriends, to bill collectors, to placers of "Help Wanted" ads, to editors and publishers--are usually spiced with political commentary. The style and the political animus always seem to drive each other. For instance, an 11/22/63 letter to novelist and friend William J. Kennedy about the day's cataclysm is apparently the birthplace of the signal phrase "fear and loathing." (Thompson summed up the Kennedy assassination thus: "The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency.") And the willingness to write strangers is stunning: this collection includes Thompson's letter to LBJ seeking appointment to the governorship of American Samoa. You might have thought Garry Trudeau was exaggerating in his Doonesbury characterization of the Thompson-based character Duke. He was not. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
"I'm already the new Fitzgerald," Thompson declares gamely at age 19, in 1957, as his cracking lifelong correspondence gets under way. "I just haven't been recognized yet." The original gonzo journalist, who struck the big time with his book on the Hell's Angels ten years later (when this first volume of correspondence terminates), amply displays his talent for bragging?and barking?in these self-consciously irreverent, wordy, and often tender letters he was fond of banging out impulsively to friends like William J. Kennedy (Ironweed); magazine editors from whom he hoped to scare up work; youths who asked for career advice; Lyndon Johnson, when asking for the job of governor of American Samoa; and writers whose work he read with violent pleasure or loathing (Norman Mailer, William Styron, Nelson Algren). Thompson enjoyed messing up wherever he could but he never lost a grip on his desire to become a damn good writer. This is a shot in the liver for struggling writers and a searing testimony to an important moment in American journalism. Highly recommended.
-?Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is a collection of personal letters written by Hunter S. Thompson between 1955, when he was an airman in the Air Force until 1967, shortly after his first book, Hell's Angels, The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, was published. It is a great diary of a young man who couldn't keep a job, but who could write very well, and how he struggled (eventually successfully) to make a name for himself as a writer. This is not the gonzo journalism that most people expect when they read Hunter S. Thompson, but the Thompson attitude was apparent in his writing even in 1955, long before there was such a thing as gonzo journalism. I would call him a brilliant writer with a bad attitude. And I would also call him a bigot. That part surprised me. I suppose the culture of the 60s allowed a freer use of language. Maybe the n-word wasn't quite as inflammatory then as it is now. Or maybe it was and he just didn't care.
Thompson was a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the introduction of this book claims that he copied Fitzgerald's style in his writing. I don't see that, but Thompson did talk about Fitzgerald in several of his letters and he thought that one day he might be "the Fitzgerald of his time." I believe he accomplished that and more. Now I am anxious to read the Hell's Angels book. It's been around for 40 years, and now I want to read it...