Hunter S. Thompson, American Legend

27 Jun

Last weekend while I was in Austin, I met Alan Rinzler, the man who published and worked with Hunter S. Thompson, Toni Morrison, Tom Robbins, and Bob Dylan, among others.

He told me that Hunter S. Thompson was a crazy guy—erratic and a little paranoid, a writer who believed that the editor (in this case Rinzler) was the enemy.

Rinzler also said that Thompson had spent an entire summer in an apartment in Chelsea when he was young, typing out The Great Gatsby just to get a feel for the rhythms of Fitzgerald’s sentences.

It’s odd to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (or watch this somewhat bizarre interview with Letterman) and think of Thompson in Chelsea, a young guy aspiring to be a writer—just as we aspire to write—and doing so in a way that seems both naive and a little desperate.

As Thompson later wrote, “Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality.”

Now Thompson, a man more legend than most, has joined Fitzgerald in the ranks of the great, illusory heroes of American literature.

Which makes me ask one important question of myself: where in the hell did I put my copy of The Great Gatsby?

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2 Responses to “Hunter S. Thompson, American Legend”

  1. Peter Galen Massey June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    It’s hard to believe that the guy who wrote “Fear and Loathing” would retype “Gatsby” … but then again, who knows what happened at those parties that Fitzgerald didn’t tell us about? Might make Thompson look tame by comparison. By the way, SUPERB blog title and pretty good advice. I might give it a try since the kids are away at camp for a month.

    • writedrunkandeditsober June 27, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Fitzgerald was quite a drinker – he and Thompson had that in common. If Fitzgerald had lived in the 60s, who knows – maybe there would be giant talking lizards in his work, too. Thanks for the comment!

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