Fear and Loathing in America, by Hunter S Thompson

Posted by Christopher Korczak on

I’ve recently listened to Fear and Loathing in America, by Hunter S Thompson, read by Malcom Hillgartner, ISBN 9781482998337.  This is a single voice production, no sound effects.  Very subtle voice changes are detected depending on the writer.

What a monster of a book - a great listen, and highly recommended for any HST fan.

The voice is just edgy enough to keep the book listenable but deliver that believability that you are listening to Hunter S Thompson’s words.   

Hunter S Thompson is a master letter writer - this book should be standard reading for anyone interested in correspondence.   

One of the gems into this book is that is offers new insight into the writing of, methodology, and general commentary of Hells Angels (HSTs first published book).  

I really enjoy the crisp and short introductions to new players in the letter game.  They are just long enough to get the point across without wasting too much time and space.

In the first third or so of the book, Acosta really steals the show and fleshes out into a more real person - the intricacies of their relationship are very interesting to see, and there are some shocking moments as well.  

This collection of letters really gives a sense of what it was actually like to be Hunter S Thompson after Hells Angels but before his other works.  The brutal honesty of being well known but broke at the same time is a great tidbit.  The inner struggles of working for money and selling things as opposed to artistic integrity is pretty clear here - and is worth a listen to if only to learn a bit more about that aspect.  It is also fascinating to see how long it takes Thompson to find his groove with money and handling it.

The birth of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is certainly interesting - and leaves one wondering if the originals ideas it stemmed from could still be done, or if HSTs thoughts on it are in fact true.

As the letters progress, we gain inside information into the methods used to write his classic FLLV, as well as some unexpected points (his lack of drug use during the actual writing).  

This collection will teach you something new about HST, no matter who you may be - from his relationships with people unexpected, to his travels less documented, to books unpublished and the histories of those that were published, you will walk away with a clearer understanding of who HST was, independent of what the popular meme of him is.

I give it 4 out of 5, and recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in Hunter S Thompson.

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