The Fear and Loathing author and forefather of gonzo journalism was notoriously hedonistic, but this book extract shows to what extent
Hunter S. Thompson was famous for living the lifestyle he dared to write about. The author of seminal novels such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary made a career out of embracing excess and documenting the results. Despite leading a life that was seemingly just one big night out, Thompson made it to the age of 67 – which maybe doesn’t sound old, but when you take into account how much hellraising he got through, it seems nothing short of impressive. Thompson took his own life in 2005, reportedly fearing the onset of old age.
In his lifetime, he found the time to write brilliant, successful books in the midst of doing endless coke and acid, making him a point of intrigue for any biographer. This extract is from a book written in 1994 by American journalist E. Jean Carroll called Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson, and if true paints a picture of a man who gets up at 3pm, drinks whisky and snorts coke all day, takes acid at 10pm, writes, sits in a hot tub for a bit and then goes to bed. It sounds like the bender of a lifetime, except Carroll alleges that he does it every single day. Have a look at his ingestion timtable below.
While I admire Carroll’s attention to detail, she’s wasted valuable ink and page space. From 3.45pm – 5.45pm it could just read: "Endless amounts of coke, whisky and fags", rather than noting "cocaine" every fifteen minutes. Who am I to complain though? It’s the repetition of the word that’s entertaining.
It’s easy to look at this book extract and think "wow...imagine doing coke all day, writing books and sitting in jacuzzis out in the middle of nowhere." It’s easy to imagine that and think it would be amazing. It wouldn’t be though, because you’d get two days in and then start tweeting about #DryJanuary or something. This was a man who showed a different mettle to most normal mortals.
Thompson also took his work seriously, as is proven by this editor’s letter he sent to Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, slamming his submission to Rolling Stone, calling him "dime a dozen" and demanding that he "get back to the typewriter".