Title: Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson.
Author: Will Bingley.
Artist: Anthony Hope-Smith.
Genre: Non-fiction, biography, graphic novel, drugs, journalism, politics.
Publication Date: April 1, 2012.
Summary: Over the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s extraordinary life he was publicly branded a bum, a vandal, a thief, a liar, an addict, a freak, and a psychopath. Some of which were true. His legacy retains a brilliantly vital force. The great American writer, the great American iconoclast, the great American hedonist, the high-water mark for all social commentators worldwide, and a truly fearless champion of individual liberties. This is his story, the story of a troubled kid from Louisville who went on to become an international icon. A story that plumbs the darkest depths of American society and charts the now legendary adventures.
My rating: 6.5/10.
♥ And it taught me a powerful lesson. Without which I would be an entirely different man today. In a caged society, a man's liberty is the meat of his master's power. But even in a world of jailers, no truth can trap an honest liar.
♥ 1965, 1966, and I'm at the center of the world. Attention split between the Angels and the Ashbury crowd. This was before Michael Fallon had first coined the term "hippy", way before the movement was taken over by the junkies and speed freaks, the suburban droupouts who later came to characterize it. Back when we were just kids with good ideas, and no fear. We tought we'd change the world. A community of idealists, riding the crest of a wave that kept on building. It was a good feeling. A great feeling. Enough to strip a man of any fear.
♥ Weird, I don't mind. Weird is good. Weird you can always roll with. Weird was what I was there for. To have a good time. And document the weirdness while I was at it. Not to control it. To record it. To immortalize it, scribbled on crumpled bits of paper. And then to walk away.
♥ Nixon said of politics, "You must never be satisfied with losing. You must get angry, terribly angry, about losing." Quite naturally he was very wrong. Truth is rarely as apparent in victory as it is in loss, whether you can learn from it or not. And as Nixon himself discovered, no fight is more worthwhile than its natural cost.
♥ So why is it that a writer is compelled to write? And why is it that our readers are so willing, so eager, to swallow our lies, well intentioned as they may be? Maybe for the same reasons they are so willing to consume and believe their politicians' lies. Because their faith removes a burden of personal responsibility. A burden it is unrealistic to expect anyone to carry.
When I was younger, when literary celebrity meant a damn fine thing, I believed that in order to become a great writer, first you had to be a great man. Mark Twain. William Faulkner. John Steinbeck. Ernest Hemingway. And F. Scott Fitzgerald. To name but a few of the great men that precede us. Men who shaped the American Dream. Who gave it new context and new meaning as this country and her people evolved. Men who took America's ideals, and freed them from sovereign bonds and from them spun the mercurial substance of individual liberty. Men whose fictions, whose lies, were worth swallowing.
And that is why I write too. Not in the pursuit of greatness, but because of the legacy those men left. A legacy of honest endeavour in the name of liberty. To me writing is an essential American occupation. An act of painstaking conservation. An American writer's purpose? To locate and document those same strands of liberty. Wherever they may be.
♥ The truth is that a writer's real purpose, whether they like it or not, is to pass a judgement on history. Recent or otherwise. The irony being that in passing judgement, a writer enters that same stream of history. Which, as good old Dickie Nixon noted, is a very tricky thing to escape from. And leads you inevitably to judgement yourself. Can't escape it. Your achievements, like bricks, will come to found the walls of your mausoleum, while you wait. Because that's all there is to do. Wait. Eat. Or sleep.
There was an Irish poet who captured this sentiment perfectly. Her name was Dark Eileen O'Connell. These are her words: "My rider of the bright eyes, what happened to your yesterday? I thought you in my heart, when I bought your fine clothes, a man the world could not slay."