Last weekend while I was in Austin, I met Alan Rinzler, the man who published and worked with Hunter S. Thompson, Toni Morrison, Tom Robbins, and Bob Dylan, among others.
He told me that Hunter S. Thompson was a crazy guy—erratic and a little paranoid, a writer who believed that the editor (in this case Rinzler) was the enemy.
Rinzler also said that Thompson had spent an entire summer in an apartment in Chelsea when he was young, typing out The Great Gatsby just to get a feel for the rhythms of Fitzgerald’s sentences.
It’s odd to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (or watch this somewhat bizarre interview with Letterman) and think of Thompson in Chelsea, a young guy aspiring to be a writer—just as we aspire to write—and doing so in a way that seems both naive and a little desperate.
As Thompson later wrote, “Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality.”
Now Thompson, a man more legend than most, has joined Fitzgerald in the ranks of the great, illusory heroes of American literature.
Which makes me ask one important question of myself: where in the hell did I put my copy of The Great Gatsby?