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Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson by…
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Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson

by Corey Seymour

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Compiled from interviews with the people that knew him the best from the beginning of his life to the end, Gonzo is a fascinating portrait of the complex, immensely talented, and extremely flawed writer, Hunter S. Thompson. The format, basically an oral biography, ensures an authenticity and immediacy that a single biographer couldn’t duplicate. ( )
1 vote Hagelstein | Jul 28, 2010 |
I have only read The Gonzo Papers Volume 3 so far of his actual works. And having now read this book, I wish I had just stuck to reading some more of his original works. But there is nothing wrong with this book as oral biographies go. It is quite well done. Some of the other reviewers on LibraryThing have commented justly on some of the concerns about this genre of type of biography and about some of the the lacunae of this example of the genre. I almost wish I didn't know about all the examples of vile behaviour that he engaged in. I would have liked to have just stuck to the journalism itself. Oh, well, too late. Today I just bought Volume 1 of The Gonzo Papers and that will be my next book. I will try to link all the biographical sequence I remember from the book under review to the date stamp of the articles that I will see in The Gonzo Papers.
  libraryhermit | May 20, 2010 |
As a biography, I loved this book for its format. So many impressions from so many people close to Thompson were documented, I did feel like I got to know him in as a balanced a way as you can achieve with a biography. ( )
  harrisfi | Jun 15, 2009 |
I had realised that Thompson must have been a sort of living hurricane, leaving mile-wide trails of destruction in his wake. I hadn't realised just how complex it was.

This biography is pieced together from recollections of several dozen people Thompson knew, from childhood friends to girlfriends to friends to enemies. You hear of his irresistable charisma, which could seduce women and make men into his friends and sidekicks. You hear of his early devotion to his craft. You hear that he was an awful, abusive husband.

You also hear of his quixotic side. His passion for the underdog, and his generosity. You hear that his son was afraid of him and his dark, uncertain moods. You hear that he believed the drugs and alcohol fuelled his creativity. Perhaps that's why he eventually allowed them destroy his ability to work. You learn of his violent, petulant rages when he was thwarted.

You hear too damn much, or at least too much for it to make sense. I just can't understand how even someone of his talent and charisma could get away with treating people the way he did. I realise that he was most likely a lonely and insecure man underneath it all, and some of his friends seem to have responded to that - but there are limits to one's patience.

I'm not done with him yet - I've added some more books to my library list, and maybe I can come up with a more rounded picture of him. In the meantime, read this book; it's a very interesting read and got me thinking. ( )
  Cynara | Jun 10, 2009 |
(Adding this parenthetical comment about two months later. I had never heard of "Oral Biographies" when I read this book. I have found out, since, that it is all the rave. I am not a fan. Please read the review with this caveat in mind.)

This is an unconventional telling of an unconventional life. Rather than tell the story of Hunter Thompson, the choice was made to have others tell that story. (Hence, the statement on the cover “An Oral Biography.”) This biography is made up of Thompson’s friends, lovers, partners, etc. talking about that life. None of the quotes are more than two pages long (some just one sentence), but it still tells a coherent story (at least as coherent as possible with Thompson.) And, while it does justice to the haphazardness that was Thompson’s life, there is something missing. This only drives home the fact that any biography is only part the story of someone’s life, the rest being the author’s interpretation of that life. And it is that interpretation that seems to be missing. Of course, that might be a good thing. But even in editing the quotes to be used, the “authors” are making judgments about that life and what will be told.

If you don’t know the full life of Hunter S. Thompson, this will fill you in. And it is as truthful as any biography can be. I just had two complaints. First, because it was made up of people telling their stories about Thompson, a few of them tell more about themselves than about Thompson. In particular, the stories from his first wife (Sandy Thompson) start out talking about him, but wind up being about her. Second, the book redundantly seems to swing between “he was on drugs”, “he was nice guy”, “he was on drugs”, “he was a nice guy”. I’m sure both are true, and both were true throughout his life. But the structure of this collection seems to try and focus on each at different times. But when the book is strong, it is very strong – never as evident as when his son and friends tell about Thompson’s last days. What does come out (even if unevenly told) is that Thompson was what we expected - a genius addict who was a decent human being. ( )
  figre | Aug 24, 2008 |
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Epigraph
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of prey. . . .
But I know none, and therefore am no beast.
- William Shakespeare, King Richard the Third
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Hunter S Thompson was part of the DNA of Rolling Stone, one of those twisting strands of chemicals around which a new life is formed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316005274, Hardcover)

Few American lives are stranger, more action-packed, or wilder than that of Hunter S. Thompson. Born a rebel in Louisville, Kentucky, Thompson spent a lifetime channeling his energy and insight into such landmark works as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - and his singular and provocative style challenged and revolutionized writing.
Now, for the first time ever, Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour have interviewed the Good Doctor's friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues and woven their memories into a brilliant oral biography. From Hell's Angels leader Sonny Barger to Ralph Steadman to Jack Nicholson to Jimmy Buffett to Pat Buchanan to Marilyn Manson and Thompson's two wives, son, and longtime personal assistant, more than 100 members of Thompson's inner circle bring into vivid focus the life of a man who was even more complicated, tormented, and talented than any previous portrait has shown. It's all here in its uncensored glory: the creative frenzies, the love affairs, the drugs and booze and guns and explosives and, ultimately, the tragic suicide. As Thompson was fond of saying, "Buy the ticket, take the ride."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Few American lives are stranger, more action-packed, or wilder than that of Hunter S. Thompson. Born a rebel in Louisville, Kentucky, Thompson spent a lifetime channeling his energy and insight into such landmark works as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas--and his singular and provocative style challenged and revolutionized writing. Now, two of his colleagues have interviewed the Good Doctor's friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues, from Hell's Angels leader Sonny Barger to Ralph Steadman to Jack Nicholson to Jimmy Buffett to Pat Buchanan to Marilyn Manson and Thompson's two wives, son, and longtime personal assistant, and woven their memories into an oral biography. It's all here in its uncensored glory: the creative frenzies, the love affairs, the drugs and booze and guns and explosives and, ultimately, the tragic suicide. As Thompson was fond of saying, "Buy the ticket, take the ride."--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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