Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson, page 131 to the end

After Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Thompson's life was apparently one long spreading sadness, like paint spilled across a tile floor. Reading the account of that time of Thompson's life was brutal because he was still monstrous, the people around him enabled him, and his talent faded away.

The book itself got a little repetitive, in a sense. He'd get an assignment, fuck around, fail to achieve, over and over, in spite over everyone around him bending over backwards to prod him toward writing something.

But it was still interesting because it was so sad watching this comet burn out, and it makes you think of interesting questions. For example, is genius life Thompson's worth the price of enduring his batshit psychotic behaviors? He wrote three good books, one that will live on infamously for its excesses (not the message that will forever be lost to the frat boys who idolize it), and as he coasted toward his death on those laurels, he required around the clock handholding, parenting, and attention from girlfriends & assistants (sometimes one in the same). And then he would, if the mood struck him, shoot at you with a shotgun (as he did a friend, missing him narrowly). As a reader, the answer is absolutely yes because we don't have to have any actual contact with the person, but those in her orbit who did or wanted to tolerate and cultivate him...why? What was the value to them? I'm not sure the book answered that question aside from underlining the point that Thompson was a great charmer of women & could be a southern gentleman when he wanted to be...though they never bothered actually showing those behaviors in him (aside from interviewing girlfriends & having people say that he was, in fact, gentlemanly on occasion without saying what exactly those behaviors were).

I really did enjoy the parts of the book that illuminated the fact that while Thompson was an addict and alcoholic, that there were those around him that pushed him to keep being this outrageous addict & alcoholic & living this sideshow life & that he sort of had to live this way to keep up expectations. They were even interviewed. People like Paul Oakenfold, Marilyn Manson & others whose names I can't remember.

Ultimately though, this is a sad book watching Thompson's life degrade so spectacularly were this white hot personality had succumbed to mumbling around reeking petty havoc. It's wasn't a lot of fun to read either, and it didn't make his life seem like a lot of fun either despite all the shenanigans. It was just destruction & a lot of cocaine.

Looking at my bookshelf, I have the Ralph Steadman memoir about his time with Hunter and I don't want to read that anymore. It seemed so interesting when I bought it, but now, man, I don't think so. I don't need that kind of sadness dressed up as fun.

I am glad I read this book on Thompson and it's gotta be the definitive article about Thompson's life aside from his own work. I know I don't want to read any more of them, so that counts for something.

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