Stories From My Idols: Part III

Little needs to be said about this writer, whose become perhaps the most iconic journalist among those not in the field or who don’t really pay attention to the authors of stories. He has a movie about him, he was seemingly immune to whatever he threw into his body, he pretty well created a famous Colorado election, he had an iconic death, but most importantly, to me at least, he created a new type of journalism. Gonzo.

If you’ve never heard of Hunter S. Thompson, well, to be blunt, you should stop doing whatever you’re doing and watch Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas to give you an express look at what Thompson’s done. Once done there, pick up a book, and begin to read the man’s work.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. – Hunter S. Thompson

For those who are unfamiliar with writing styles, Gonzo journalism is a style of reporting where rather than removing his- or herself from the story, the reporter actually uses himself as a character in the story. It was the foundation for the New Journalism movement of the 60’s and 70’s, which basically calls for the elimination of pure objectivity, and also is regarded as the first real examples of what has come to be considered “creative non-fiction.”

The career of Thompson was probably just as interesting as his writing style. He got involved in journalism at a US Air Force base, where he began writing about the base football team. He went on to take a job in small-town Pennsylvania as a sports editor, then went to Puerto Rico, where he did some work for American papers on what was happening in the Caribbean. He moved back to the States and began heavy coverage of presidential elections, as well as cultural pieces on America, and of course, continued covering sporting events, as what got him into the biz. Some of his most famous work has come in the form of full-length books of his writing, which use the distinguishable Gonzo style. One such book was focused on a year Thompson spent riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, while another, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 offered a then-rare glimpse on how campaigns worked, and focused strongly on the Democratic primaries of that year. This book also sparked the famous hatred of Richard Nixon which Thompson is still related to to this day.

Without further ado, I offer you one of my favourite (if perhaps less famous) works by Thompson, “The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy,” originally published in the very first edition of Scanlans. Oh, and another thing you’ll find out about Thompson – he was given space in his work. The piece after the jump is about 8,000 words.

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