Some stories, no matter how shocking, don't come as a big surprise. Did anyone really expect Hunter S. Thompson, the king of gonzo journalism, to die in his sleep? Given his self-destructive lifestyle, he just HAD to come to a bad end. And he did, putting himself out of his misery Feb. 20 with one of the many guns that held such fascination for him.
Don't get me wrong. I liked Thompson in his day - the late 70s and early 80s. I read his Rolling Stone articles. I thoroughly enjoyed "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail." I was intrigued by the new journalism style that he created, even if it wasn't really journalism. He was a real trip, no bummer.
But there was an acidic tone to his writing and his lifestyle that could not be sustained. He hated everything and everyone a little too much. He drank to excess and did too many drugs. He was proud of being constantly intoxicated. No wonder he slunk off to Woody Creek, Colo., adopting a hermitlike existence while writing just enough to make money and remind the public that he still despised the world around him.
In the end, he became rather dull and predictable. His schtick wore thin. His time had passed. Like Holden Caulfield, he came across as the prototype uphappy whiner. But when he was good he was great.
I'd be willing to bet that his book and campaign articles from 1972 still entertain, although I won't be revisiting them. Once was good and quite enough.
See Tom Wolfe's take on this talented writer. If registration is required, I apologize.