Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson

Jann S. Wenner and Corey Seymour

It could be argued that Hunter S. Thompson was the most influential journalist of his generation. His distinctive voice was branded “gonzo journalism,” where the writer becomes part of the story and, when needed, allows the narrative to stray into fiction territory if it sells the story better. Of course, his main influence was of the equally gonzo approach of using copious amounts of booze and drugs to help fuel his writing. Wannabe gonzo journalists who focused on that aspect rarely got their act together enough to create their own distinctive voice. Since Thompson’s main focus was on current events, his influence and name recognition has waned aside from iconic titles. But with Jann Wenner (publisher of Rolling Stone) and Corey Seymour’s oral biography Gonzo, the Doctor lives again through the recollections of those who knew him best. Considering Wenner famously fired him (after a few abortive attempts), he seems like an odd choice for a biographer. But it’s a freewheeling and entertaining affair, with contributions from folks like his widow, former editors, Johnny Depp and Jack Nicholson. A welcome entry for those who want to dig beyond the public persona to glimpse what made Thompson tick.