Friday, March 28, 2008

Kingdom Of Fear Has Been A Tough Read So Far

I read Hunter S. Thompson's Kingdom of Fear when it was first released in 2003. I "borrowed" what had once been my copy from my old college friend Spear Chucker recently.

It's been a difficult book to read again given that I'd just completed Fear And Loathing In America.

The books are different, understandably, in that Fear And Loathing In America was a compilation of letters Thompson wrote, mostly, while Kingdom Of Fear is written as an autobiography of sorts.

I do not recommend reading these two books back-to-back.

The letters which make up Fear And Loathing In America were written at a time when Thompson had recently become a public figure with the publication of his first book Hell's Angels. It stretches through the years of Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 and The Great Shark Hunt.

Kingdom Of Fear came in the wake of the September 11th attacks. In a relatively short time following this book Thompson would kill himself.

I'm only 28 pages in so far which makes it difficult to give my insight on this book. I can say, without question, I understand now why I had no problem lending it to Speak Chucker - and a few other copies to various friends - at the time and why I haven't looked to read it again for years.

This, I think, has been my favorite passage so far...
The Author's Note --- if it exists at all --- is inevitably the worst and lamest part of any book, my own included. That is because it is necessarily the last and most blind-dumb desperate 'final touch' that gets heaped into a book just before it goes to the printer --- and the whole book, along with the two years of feverish work and anguish, is doomed to failure and ruin if the author won't produce the note in time for publication.

Make no mistake about it. These 4 pointless pages of low-rent gibberish are by far the most important part of the book, they say Nothing else matters.

And so, with that baleful wisdom in mind, let us get on with the wretched task of lashing this 'author's note' together, for good or ill. I am not really in much of a mood to deal with it, no more than I am eager to take a course in how to write commercial advertising for my own good, at this time.

I savagely rejected that swill 40 years ago because I hated it and I hated the people who tried to make me do it. But, so what, eh? We are somehow back to square this a great country, or what?"
- Hunter S. Thompson
{pages xvii-xviii}

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