The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 – Hunter S. Thompson

“One thing that this collection of letters makes clear at the outset is that Hunter S. Thompson, he of the ‘Fear and Loathing’ books, for whom the phrase ‘gonzo journalist’ was invented, has always burned to carve his initials onto the collective awareness. What other kind of person would, beginning in his teen years, make carbon copies of every letter he wrote — to his mother, his Army friends and commanding officers, his girlfriends, his various agents and editors — specifically in the hope that they would be published? Mr. Thompson, by dint of hard work and enormous talent, has gotten his wish. Edited by Douglas Brinkley and adorned with a sparkling essay by the novelist William J. Kennedy, ‘The Proud Highway’ takes Mr. Thompson’s caustic, furious, funny, look-at-me correspondence through 1967, when the author, having arrived on the scene with his book ‘Hell’s Angels,” was 30. It is noteworthy that although just one in seven of the relevant cache of letters was included, this book, labeled ‘The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I,’ weighs in at just under 700 pages — and there are still 30 more years to go. Even some of the photographs of Mr. Thompson were taken by the author himself, self-portraits of the writer at work and at play. Manifestly, this is a man who, while anti-snobbish to a fault, abusively contemptuous of self-promotion and pretension, had a powerful need to make a record of himself and to make that record public. Fortunately, the maverick vibrancy and originality of the record’s creator fully redeems what might otherwise have been an act of egomaniacal temerity. The Hunter S. Thompson that emerges in this collection of his letters, complemented by fragments of his other writings, is very much the unrestrained, strenuously nonconformist, Lone Ranger journalist who achieved cult status long ago. One thinks of Mr. Thompson a bit as one thinks of the hero of George Macdonald Fraser’s fictional Flashman books, Flashman rampaging like Don Quixote through the major events of the 19th century, making them his own. Mr. Hunter rampaged through the 60’s and 70’s of this century, not reporting on them in any conventional sense but using them as raw material for the text that was his own life. …”
NY Times: Letters of the Young Author (He Saved Them All)
Google: The Proud Highway

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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