Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The taking stock of HST continues ...

hunter thompson
Louis Menand, writing in The New Yorker, says Hunter S. Thompson "squandered" his introduction to the mainstream press following the success of his first book, Hell's Angels, by writing a lengthy profile of Jean Claude-Killy, the famous skier, in which he suggested, “on balance, it seems unfair to dismiss him as a witless greedhead, despite all the evidence.”

Squandered is a bit harsh. HST wrote like he wanted. I don't think he was worried how the mainstream press would react.

Still, I'll admit, I couldn't stand to read much of anything Thompson wrote after Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, with a few exceptions here and there. He was just mailin' it in when he "wrote" those columns for ESPN.com. His last one? He called up Bill Murray at 2 in the morning and ran some weird idea about shotgun golf by him. All he had to do was turn on the tape recorder and transcribe. Murray was polite and Hunter wasn't very interesting, or funny.

But, the guy wrote some good stuff in his day, you can't deny that.

Menand finished his short piece this way:

It’s an occupational hazard: if you construct a career raging against the system, you can’t stop raging just because the system has accepted you, or has ceased to care or to pay attention. The anger needs someplace to go. At its best, in the Nixon era, Thompson’s anger, in writing, was a beautiful thing, fearless and funny and, after all, not wrong about the shabbiness and hypocrisy of American officialdom. It belonged to a time when journalists believed that fearlessness and humor and honesty could make a difference; and it’s sad to be reminded that the time in which such a faith was possible has probably passed.
[the new yorker]

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