Literary buffs gathered at Merritt Bookstore on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the launch of a newly published exploration of the life and times of Hunter S. Thompson written by Kevin T. McEneaney, TMI culture editor and published poet. The book is Hunter S. Thompson: Fear, Loathing, and the Birth of Gonzo. A group that could be called friends of good prose gathered to hear intimate details of Thompson’s life uncovered during McEneaney’s research and years of contemplation of the sundry gewgaws that Thompson contemplated—society in the 1960’s and 70’s—in short, the hippie culture.
The title is a take-off on Thompson’s pivotal book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” described by McEneaney (pictured above in Ireland), as an errant wandering through the apocalyptic hallucinations of hippie sensibility, written by “the King of Hippies,” a consummate journalist who had created a new style of journalism: commentary based upon verifiable fact, while discovering truth through satiric interpretation.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas continues to sell well; it is thought to be the warped “Iliad” of the hippie generation. Recounting his youthful years running a bookstore in New York City, McEneaney noted that Thompson’s book was the most-often shop-lifted item in stores and libraries. Drawing parallels to the present, Thompson’s style is imitated today by journalists, satirists, and humorists like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, among others.
The release of this literary and cultural study showcases Hunter S. Thompson as political writer and social commentator—interpreting the latter half of the 20th-century; as importantly, McEneaney’s carefully drawn exploration and understanding helps readers to connect with that history’s musical and humorous tradition, and to appreciate what Gonzo sensibility has meant to American popular culture.
If Gonzo strikes a familiar chord, you can find out more at Merritt Books where Hunter S. Thompson is in stock.