gonzo goodbye: hunter s. thompson

As everyone knows by now, Hunter S. Thompson killed himself. Lileks has an excellent summation of his career:

A great writer in his prime, but the DVD of his career would have the last two decades on the disc reserved for outtakes and bloopers. It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone else?s satirical version of his infamous middle period.

As someone who was astounded at his Fear and Loathing books (and “Hell’s Angels” which came before is a great dissection of motorcycle subculture), I, too, felt sorry for him as the drugs and alcohol took hold of him and destroyed a promising career. He had all the tools, as they say, but his hatred and his bile was stronger, and once he disposed of the tedious job of rounding up the facts to back up his rants, he became just another crank, to be pited more than listened to.

That said, if you want to know what American politics was like in 1972, read “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” and shake your head that American journalism has been unable to produce a single political writer worthy of Thompson.

UPDATE: John Scalzi remembers Thompson’s influence on budding reporters, while Gerard Vanderleun pops a cap in his ass.