Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
Here, for the first time, is the private and most intimate correspondence of one of America's most influential and incisive journalists--Hunter S. Thompson. In letters to a Who's Who of luminaries from Norman Mailer to Charles Kuralt, Tom Wolfe to Lyndon Johnson, William Styron to Joan Baez--not to mention his mother, the NRA, and a chain of newspaper editors--Thompson vividly catches the tenor of the times in 1960s America and channels it all through his own razor-sharp perspective. Passionate in their admiration, merciless in their scorn, and never anything less than fascinating, the dispatches of The Proud Highway offer an unprecedented and penetrating gaze into the evolution of the most outrageous raconteur/provocateur ever to assault a typewriter.
Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), according to editor Brinkley, has written more than 20,000 letters. For bile and outrageousness, this first volume in a collection of those letters to friends, editors, agents and others is peerless. When literary agent Sterling Lord declined to represent him, Thompson threatened to "cave in your face and scatter your teeth all over Fifth Avenue." Struggling to earn a living by freelancing, the author wrote President Johnson (addressed as "Dear Lyndon"), requesting he appoint Thompson governor of American Samoa to afford him a "pacific place" in which to write a novel "of overwhelming importance." Railing against corruption and stupidity, temperamentally unable to suffer the authority of fools, Thompson cannot keep regular jobs and roams the world, forever struggling for money and desperate for recognition of his considerable talent. But he doesn't hesitate to address the few writers and editors he admires with requests for help, comments on their work or generous praise. By turns exasperating and entertaining, this is also a devastating portrait of the writer as an incorrigible outsider.
An inspiration, the best Thompson book I've read
"The Proud Highway" is an inspiration to writers who struggle to make good on their craft, for writers who struggle to survive as paid writers, and for any writer who feels destined to be a writer who may be close to homeless in their quest. I loved each and every page of this book, a book that reads like a diary written through Thompson's own intimate, humorous and often gut-wrenching letters to family and friends. Pick this book up and you won't regret it.