Discussion Topics (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
How could one categorize Hunter S. Thompson’s texts? Are they cases of journalism? Are they autobiographies? Could they be considered roman à clef novels?
Given Thompson’s perspective, style, and reporter’s stance (or lack there of), how could one characterize his construction of Gonzo Journalism, his version of New Journalism?
Considering Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, how does Thompson characterize the American media? Nixon’s administration? The Democratic Party since 1968? George McGovern? What are his primary concerns, complaints, and advocacies of any of the aforementioned?
What does one make of Thompson’s quest for the American Dream (and its subsequent abandonment) in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? How does that play into the worldview that Thompson seeks to construct in the text?
The drug culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s is prominently featured and critiqued in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. How does it function as an operating discourse in the text’s narrative construction?
Where does Thompson fit in as a character within his own works (particularly in the supposed instances where the text’s editors intervene and can only produce verbal transcriptions of interviews or tape recordings)? How does this comment on his analysis of the American publishing machine?
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Carroll, E. Jean. Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson. New York: Dutton, 1993. Full-length biography. Includes the essay “Young Doctor Thompson,” which appeared in Esquire (February, 1993).
Crouse, Timothy. The Boys on the Bus. 1973. Reprint. New York: Random House, 2003. Thompson is featured in Crouse’s depiction of the press corps on the 1972 campaign, offering an alternative account to Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail, ’72.
Draper, Robert. Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History. New York: Doubleday, 1990. Mentions Thompson’s contributions to the magazine.
McKeen, William. Hunter S. Thompson. Boston: Twayne, 1991. Offers biographical information and analyses of Thompson’s major works through the early 1990’s.
Perry, Paul. Fear and Loathing: The Strange and Terrible Saga of Hunter S. Thompson. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1992. An unauthorized biography by an editor who has worked with Thompson.
Wenner, Jann and Corey Seymour. Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson. New York: Little, Brown, 2007. A fascinating biography composed of the reminiscences of Thompson’s friends and family.
Whitmer, Peter O. When the Going Gets Weird: The Strange Life and Twisted Times of Hunter S. Thompson. New York: Hyperion, 1993. Full-length biography by a clinical psychologist that attempts to demythologize Thompson’s raucous life and reputation.