9780684873152 / 068487315X

Fear And Loathing In America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist (Gonzo Letters)


Publisher:Simon & Schuster



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About the book:

Louisville's finest returns with another huge batch of his private correspondence, hammered out from Woody Creek on his typewriter with the frenzied rat-tat-tat report of shots from the hip. Covering the Wonder Years, from the election of Nixon (which first fired his invective), Vietnam, the 1972 campaign, publication of the instantly notorious Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, to Watergate, the walking pharmacy reveals himself to be a surprisingly dedicated librarian, having dutifully filed carbons of all his correspondence for such an eventuality. By 1968, the success of Hell's Angels had seen his stock, if not his income, rise, and on the magazine Scanlan Monthly was born Gonzo journalism, dismissing objectivity for furious spontaneity fired from both barrels. However, the hidden image on the Polaroid was a bleary-eyed moralist in deadly earnest, uncontrollably seized by the free-associative rantings of a Tourette's sufferer.

The good doctor sees himself, the sub-title suggests, as an outlaw journalist. He certainly wants to resettle his country, and in many ways these 750 pages read as a "Dear John" from an estranged and bitterly spurned lover, the offending suitor being the American Dream. It's no coincidence that Gatsby, that symbol of its empty heart, is a recurrent reference. In fact, a book about the Death of the Dream was the white elephant that stalked these years, the Big Work that never happened. At least this volume contains much invention, not least of the self, and, if not always sober, then certainly incisive thinking, whether he's addressing fellow Gonzoid Ralph Steadman, Tom Wolfe or the Alaska Sleeping Bag Company. He claims his business is "defusing bombs and disarming landmines", a disingenuous reversal of how he often seems to be acting. An iconic reputation became his ball and chain, and he grew into a love/hate figure, particularly to himself, resembling an outrageous uncle at a family party. He was to become worshipped beyond his means, but for this period, while he huffed and puffed to blow Nixon's White House down, he remained a legend in his own overblown inkdom, something these letters vividly capture. --David Vincent

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