Nicholas's Reviews > Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson

Gonzo by Jann S. Wenner
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's review
Jun 20, 09

bookshelves: biography-memoir
Read in March, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Crazy story. Well told.

Take out the drugs and Hunter is who you want to be. And don't tell me he wouldn't have been anything without them. Hunter denied us half his work because of his drugs.


"Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed."

"Hunter was brave as a lion. He waded right in. There was no fucking around."

"That should have been a wake-up call for me, but the only wake-up part of it was "Be careful. Be careful. Don't make this man angry. Because maybe he'll leave you - and you don't want him to leave you, because this is exciting."

"Hunter was a great guy to argue with because he would listen to what you said. Very few people do that. He would change his mind on the basis of what you said. And if someone's going to actually pay attention to what you're saying, you argue a little differently than if you're just saying things to hear yourself say it, though when you got Hunter and Clancy and McGarr and I together, you couldn't hear anything."

"I don't think people realize that just because you're really good at something, it doesn't make you a good person."

"Marijuana - and some other drugs too - make you feel loving, make you feel connected, make you feel goo, make you feel warm. With cocaine, it was all about go. You felt really sharp and really, really smart, and strong, and more powerful than the person next to you. But there was no sense of connection. It's not a drug to make love with. Not a drug to be in a community with. It is a completely self-centered, egotistic drug."

"It will be the general philosophy of the Sheriff's office that no drug worth taking should be sold for money."

"I've often wondered how much so-called childhood trauma is the result of an adult's comparison and questioning of what they experienced with what they thought they should have experienced."

"Hunter would always infuse everything with drama; whatever he was doing was always full of energy and craziness - things were always at stake, and there would be crises."

"Hunter imitators were all over the place. All these writers were writing this gibberish, but they lost sight of one of Hunter's saving graces, which was that he was hilarious."

"It was classic Hunter - with a twinkle in his eye and the devilish grin. Somehow he always made everybody feel special, that it was going to be your moment. He'd make you want to be naughty because he made everything sound so good. He had a way of getting you to go along with him on any ride."

"Hunter worked his ass off. He knew he didn't know about politics, so he insisted that you explain every detain. That's why he was so much better informed than most of the political reporters traveling on the campaign, because they were covering it by the book - and Hunter didn't have the book. He was making it up."

"Hunter was what you could call a creative listener - responsive, shrewd about the subtexts of any conversation, constantly putting you on your mettle. He was quick to seize on anything that you might know that could be of use to him and to offer anything he might know that would be of use to you."

"Hunter set a high standard for himself at the beginning, and he felt he needed to rise to that standard or surpass it with every piece that followed. That put a considerable strain even on someone with his exceptional stamina and skill. But he was fearless. With Hunter there was this constant demonstration that if you wanted to make something happen, you just had to plow ahead and do it on your own terms, and not let anything stop you."

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hell's Angels - he rewrote and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote those."

"There are people, and he was one of them, who when they smile at you - Hunter had that smile - it's as if the sun has come out, and you feel the warmth of it. A lot charismatic people have that. Hunter invited you inside his conspiracy to have fun. Everybody felt very special, like they had some kind of moment or special understanding with him."

"The first time I had met him, years earlier, I saw a totally different Hunter. He was just a young writer on the make and not very interesting - a rather conventional sort of guy. He was sort of doing some journalism and talked to me about his ambitions a little bit. Nothing out of line, nothing unpleasant, but I wasn't that impressed. Afterward, of course, I was most impressed with him, because of his daring, but when I first met him I never would have pictured him being the guy who would break that many shibboleths one after another and take that many chances. Damned interesting - it was like he left one part of his personality behind and got into another."

"Without drugs - he would have been Karl Rove."

"Hunter did something that none of us had the guts to do - he led the life that secretly all of us would like to have had the guts to lead. To hell with the whole thing, just stay drunk and high and smoke and hang out and write outrageous things. He'd never lived his life on anybody else's terms."

"What is the desired effect."

"You read Hunter and you think, 'Well, boy! This stuff is just pouring out of his head as fast as he can write it down!'...But he worked at it. Those funny lines were not instantaneous."

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