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Ancient Gonzo Wisdom should be a perfect book: a collection of all the interviews Hunter S. Thompson ever gave. It begins with a talk Thompson gave on ABC News in 1967, shortly after Hell’s Angels was released. It ends with his last ever interview, a Playboy piece by eXiled contributor Tim Mohr, one of the best in the collection. Mohr had the reasonably good idea of giving Thompson a list of topics (“Violence,” “Nutrition,” “Reading,” “Firearms”) and letting him speak freely about them instead of framing the interview in questions. (After all, Thompson’s already been asked a million variations of “What role do drugs play in your writing?” and “What are your views on objectivity?”.)

My favourite one is “On Medicine”:

“A lot of doctors are reluctant to take responsibility for me. Nobody wants to be the doctor who killed Hunter Thompson. I don’t trust the medical establishment, but I do trust individual doctors. I’m straight with doctors. They have to learn that they can talk straight to me too. There’s no point in trying to conceal anything. I appreciate the ones who take risks on me, and I have to look out for the chickenshits.”

There, the latest evidence that Thompson was right up there with Beowulf, William Tell and the bogatyri. Telling a doctor outright you’re looking for drugs requires a heroic level of bravery, and getting drugs after admitting a fancy to them takes frightening eloquence. 356 pages of Thompson’s bravery and eloquence should be something to celebrate, right?

It would be, if pages xiii-xx weren’t written by Christopher Hitchens. (more…)

September 11th, 2010 | Comments (96)