Hunter S. Thompson: Fear, Loathing, and the Birth of Gonzo

Kevin T. McEneaney. Rowman & Littlefield, $40 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4422-6620-9
This literary study from McEneaney (Russell Banks: In Search of Freedom) is a thorough if sometimes heavy-going examination of Hunter S. Thompson’s place in American letters, with a focus on the “gonzo” style he created. McEneaney spends much of the book on an extensive analysis of Thompson’s autobiographical novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He explores the author’s complicated friendship with attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta, the inspiration for the sidekick character Dr. Gonzo, and theorizes that another character was intended as a parody of Joan Didion. McEneaney’s argument that Thompson combined sincere love for country with a fractured perspective on the American dream is compelling. However, his references to the authors who influenced Thompson—among them, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Miguel de Cervantes—are numerous to the point of being distracting. Thompson’s own influence on other writers is mentioned only briefly and might have strengthened McEneaney’s position if discussed in greater depth. This book will appeal to fans looking to know more about Thompson’s place within literature, though it doesn’t quite capture the man. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 306 pages - 978-1-4422-6621-6
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