Hunter S. Thompson, R.I.P.

Monday, February 21st, 2005, 11:38 pm

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as well as a number of other books and hundreds of articles and literally thousands of letters, died yesterday at the age of 67. He committed suicide, apparently by a self-inflicted gunshot, which somehow seems sadly appropriate. Thompson lived at what he called his “fortfied compound” in Woody Creek, CO, and his love of high-powered firearms was nearly as famous as his consumption of illegal substances. The family will apparently be releasing more information about Thompson’s death in the next few days. Somehow I think Thompson, who lived life completely on his own terms, decided to die on his own terms as well.

I haven’t read all of Thompson’s books, and I still have his second collection of letters up on my bookshelves. Reading his first collection of letters, The Proud Highway, just floored me. Here was a man who decided to follow his own path, no matter the hardships along the way. He was fearless. He traveled the world, writing articles and an almost endless stream of letters to friends, family, editors, and enemies, keeping copies of everything he wrote. The sheer output is staggering. I’ve written about 175,000 words in this blog; I’d wager Thompson wrote that amount every month. Maybe every week.

For as ludicrously prolific as Thompson was, he was frustrated in his attempts to write fiction. His one and only novel, The Rum Diaries, was published in 1998 but he spent the better part of 35 years working on it. Then again, there are those who say that much of what Thompson wrote was fiction, though he described it memorably as “Gonzo Journalism”. His writing was intense, uncompromising, outrageous, and brilliant. In his later years Thompson wrote a sports column for ESPN; my God, that he might have started a blog, about anything and everything. It could’ve been huge.

Think I’m gonna stick my DVD of the movie Terry Gilliam made of Fear and Loathing, which has long been a favorite of mine, for some reason. I’ve never fired a weapon deadlier than a Paintball gun, I’ve never taken a drug stronger than grain alcohol (the nitrous oxide I huffed was in a dentist’s chair), and I’ve never been to Vegas. But I’ve learned to appreciate the occasional genius that comes from Madness.

Somewhere in Fla, Dr. Pauly is in mourning.

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One Response to “Hunter S. Thompson, R.I.P.”

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