Hunter S Thompson was one of the greatest writers ever to grace the planet. Plugged into American culture like no-one else he wrote a prolific mixture of journalism, fiction, philosophy and criticism. Born in Kentucky in 1937 Hunter was credited with inventing the "Gonzo" style of journalism, a much emulated approach which involves writing from a personal perspective and mixing your own viewpoint with the facts.
He travelled extensively and much of his writing has a political message. His first full-length book was Hell´s Angels which saw him spend more than a year with the notorious outlaws and then report on his experiences. With a reputation for heavy alcohol and drug use Hunter´s life was anything but dull and perhaps his most famous work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was about his adventures with his crazy Samoan attorney as they visited the National District Attorneys Association´s Third Annual Convention on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Naturally the pair spent most of their time smashed off their faces.
In addition to his books he wrote articles for a number of publications from Rolling Stone to the San Francisco Chronicle. Having started his career as a sports writer Hunter continued to confound the critics with his outspoken social and political commentary. His comic flair is evident in all his work and his best vitriol was reserved for the ultimate rubber-faced goon - Richard Nixon.
Sadly the 67-year old Hunter shot himself dead last night (20/2/05) at his home in Colorado and his views on the world will be sorely missed.
I´ll leave you with one of my favourite passages from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
"The brakes were useless, the car was wandering. The rear end was coming around. I jammed it down into Low, but it made no difference so I straightened it out and braced for a serious impact, a crash that would probably kill me. My heart was full of joy as I took the first hit, which was oddly soft and painless. No real shock at all... Yes. These huge white lumps were not boulders. They were sheep." - Hunter S Thompson