Hunter S. and Hell’s Angels

In between prep time for school and my own research of Cornbread I’ve been reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels. I like to read at it slowly before I get to sleep at night–keep it close to the bed. I found the book in Barnes and Nobles, not in non-fiction, but in the special interest section–not biography–which I find odd. And I was surprised to see how Hunter S. sympathizes the subjects of the book. Seems odd because in the documntary of Hunter S. I watched a few months ago called Gonzo: the Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson, Hunter S. discusses the person/mythos of the gang and the sensationalizing going on in the press at the time–this reminds me of Didion and her analysis of the youth in San Francisco of 1966. Yet unlike Didion, Thompson sees a movement and a positive note/experience.

And I also see how the writing is so much more straight than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or even Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail–those books seems like such craziness of form and analysis. So much making up of characters and observations–but in Hell’s Angels the reporting is straight-forward and dare I say objective. More of what I think of straight recording or reporting rather than creating story–more capturing than distorting. Hunter is not the story and the subjects are his story and that is odd compared to later books. I guess he learned to push the perception or the persona further.

And I was able to bring up Hunter S. in my Comp class this term. Specifically ‘the wave speech’ from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In comparison to Slouching Towards Bethlehem the wave speech is such a contrast to how Didion viewed San Francisco in 1966. I wonder if Hunter S. romanticized the experience the way he fictionalizes all of his subjects or did he just enjoy it more on drugs. I mean in Slouching, Didion repeatedly turns down weed and acid whiel I can’t imagine Hunter S. turning down anything.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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