The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (Fear and Loathing Letters/Hunter S. Thompson, Vol 1)

ISBN 10: 0679406956 / ISBN 13: 9780679406952
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Synopsis: Before there was Gonzo, there was just plain Hunter -- a precocious, earnest, and occasionally troublesome honor student in Louisville, Kentucky.

Before there was Doctor Thompson, there was Airman Thompson -- the military's answer to Grantland Rice, protecting America by covering sports for his Florida base's newspaper.

Before there was Fear and Loathing,there was Dow Jones -- that is, Thompson's early reportage for that company's National Observer, which raised the standard for hip and provocative foreign coverage.

Before there was Rolling Stone, there were job applications everywhere -- in hopes of being hired by a paper, pretty much any paper, an obsession for the starving writer with expensive tastes in alcohol, nicotine, and room service.

In The Proud Highway, readers will find a Hunter S. Thompson they've imagined but never known. With the publication of these extraordinary letters, written from the time of his high school graduation in 1955 through the triumph of his first book, Hell's Angels, in 1966, critics and fans can finally trace the development and maturation of a singular talent, one of our era's most important voices. How Thompson changed the face of contemporary nonfiction -- and of America itself -- is the mesmerizing story of The Proud Highway.

Review: This first volume of the correspondence of Hunter S. Thompson begins with a high school essay and runs up through the publication of Thompson's breakout book, Hell's Angels. Thompson apparently never threw a letter away, so the reader has the treat of experiencing the full evolution of his pyrotechnic writing style, rant by rant. The letters--to girlfriends, to bill collectors, to placers of "Help Wanted" ads, to editors and publishers--are usually spiced with political commentary. The style and the political animus always seem to drive each other. For instance, an 11/22/63 letter to novelist and friend William J. Kennedy about the day's cataclysm is apparently the birthplace of the signal phrase "fear and loathing." (Thompson summed up the Kennedy assassination thus: "The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency.") And the willingness to write strangers is stunning: this collection includes Thompson's letter to LBJ seeking appointment to the governorship of American Samoa. You might have thought Garry Trudeau was exaggerating in his Doonesbury characterization of the Thompson-based character Duke. He was not.

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