Smarmy Alligator

Politics, pop culture, and self-deprecation

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Drawn to reading this article by the promise that it revealed HST’s not-so-nice side, I was ultimately disappointed by the kind of “uncovering” Ambrose takes. These paragraphs in particular kind of pissed me off:

The fact is they [drugs and alcohol] did not work for him. The drugs and alcohol – an immovable, prominent fixture in his social philosophy and life – appear to have ruined him. His writing lost its verve; sometimes, in the later years, it seemed little more than the work of someone stumbling toward being average. His health deteriorated. I can’t know how happy his life was, but some press reports indicate a miserable, unholy shambles at times.

The way he finally ended that life – sticking a .45-caliber handgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger while his wife was on the phone with him and his son and grandson were close by in the same house – bespeaks a horrifying moral degradation.

All Ambrose is doing is showing his own opinions on what constitutes good writing, a good life, and moral certitude. That HST’s writing might have “lost its verve” is a highly subjective statement. And Thompson’s choice of a way to die doesn’t inherently show any moral degradation: one could look at it as dignified, courageous. I’m not necessarily saying that I look at it that way, or that I’m familiar enough with HST’s later work to say whether it had “verve.” I just want to point out that what touts itself as an examination of Thompson’s life doesn’t really reveal anything by Ambrose’s own thoughts about Thompson’s life. There isn’t anything objective, or compelling, about it.

The Cincinnati Post – The dark side of gonzo

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Written by laura k

August 24, 2005 at 7:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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