Ah, dearly departed Hunter S. Thompson: while his corporal remains may have been shot out of a cannon, his influence lives on. There’s the news of a big screen adaptation of The Rum Diary, starring approved Thompson stand-in Johnny Depp. And, according to the Village Voice, his widow Anita is hard at work securing his enduring legacy.
[S]he’s published The Gonzo Way: A Celebration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a small yet insightful book that discusses what Anita learned from Hunter, specifically how to live life without letting fear get the best of you. The book isn’t so much about the crazed persona that Hunter came to be known for; rather, it’s a series of lessons about courage and the constant quest for truth. It’s this attitude that defines the “Gonzo Way,” according to Anita. “Every time a young person reads a page of Hunter S. Thompson’s,” she writes in The Gonzo Way, “he gains confidence in himself to have courage, and, in my opinion, the world becomes a better place.”
While I think there are lessons to be learned (mostly in the art of conspicuous consumption), I somehow doubt that the tome will earn a place in college classrooms or self-help sessions. It seems that the casual Thompson fan is content with aping his drug and alcohol excesses on a weekend trip to Vegas, rather than applying some sort of pseudo-life lessons to conquer their fears. The courage she speaks of, methinks, consists of the liquid variety. Still!
As she writes in The Gonzo Way, Hunter was “a champion of fun and a champion of the underworld, which combined to make him most of all a champion of individualism.”
Anita says she plans to stay on Owl Farm and maintain it as “a thriving place for the study of things important to Hunter—politics, literature, history, and journalism.” There’s also another book of letters coming out in the next few years, and a recent symposium at the Aspen Institute on Hunter’s literary contributions is expected to become a yearly event.
Gawd, would I love to see Owl Farm become some sort of artist’s colony, along the lines of Yaddo. Now that would be a good extension of the Gonzo brand.
And who is out there now representing the Gonzo journo style? Well, two come to mind: Matt Taibbi, doing the political outrage trip over at Thompson’s old stomping ground Rolling Stone, and holding down the drunken ne’er do well end of the spectrum is literary pugilist Jonathan Ames. Beyond that, it’s a shambling collection of pale imitators.