Journalism

Before He Was Gonzo

The (very) early work of Hunter Thompson.

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Over at The Atlantic, Brian Kevin has written an interesting appreciation of Hunter Thompson's early career. By "early career," I don't mean "those first four books he wrote before he devolved into self-parody" (*); I mean the dispatches he produced before he had any books to his name at all. A few of these are collected in Thompson's 1979 collection The Great Shark Hunt, but aside from those, Kevin says, "Little of Thompson's pre-gonzo reporting exists outside of microform."

Someone should write an alt-history novel set in a world where he won.

Sounds like we're missing out:

Like a lot of young reporters, Thompson stayed on the move. Between 1960 and 1967, he filed dispatches from California, the Appalachian South, the Caribbean, South America, and the northern Rockies. His output consisted of everything from straightforward reportage and service-y travel pieces to book reviews and the occasional essay. And while he traipsed among several different beats, Thompson's early articles are, viewed collectively, a kind of study in mid-20th-century frontiers: His datelines are the battlefronts of the Cold War, the blurry social boundaries of the counterculture, and the fading frontiers of the American West.

Selections from the stories follow, along with Kevin's comments. Read the whole thing here.

(* Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, and The Great Shark Hunt. For my money the first one's the best.)