tv Peter Richardson Savage Journey CSPAN April 22, 2022 6:55am-8:02am EDT
hunter s thompson at the launch of a new book by peter richardson. it's titled savage journey hunter s thompson and the weird road to gonzo. it's published by our friends at university of california, press focusing on honduras thompson's influences development and his unique model of authorship mr. richardson archughes that thompson's literary formation was largely a san francisco story and indeed those of us at city lights across paths within whilst. he passed through the bay area kenneth test to this thompson was a regular atasca cafe just across the street from city lights. so we'd see him on a pretty regular basis. his life was intertwined with north beach culture and awesome. see him walking down the street either warren hinkle from editor of ramparts or jeanette etheridge former owner of tosca. so peter richardson is not a stellar job. he seem together the trace elements of thompson's literary influences and a really compelling. it so we're thrilled. he can grace our halls peter richardson has written
critically acclaimed books about the iconic rock band the grateful dead also ramparts magazine legendary muckraking magazine and carrie mcwilliams the radical author journalist and editor of the nation magazine. he's going to be joined tonight by none other than david talbot. i actually can't think of anybody better to be doing the honors. david is the esteemed author of four popular history books and the founder and original editor and chief of salon magazine former senior editor of mother jones magazine. he is a journalist a columnist. he's written for the new yorker for time for rolling stone the guardian much much more is book the season of the witch, of course his legendary san francisco chronicle best seller for many years his most recent book as titled by the light of burning dreams the triumphs and tragedies the second american revolution. it was co-authored to the sister margaret talbot. so david is a neighbor of ours here at city lights is offices are just down the street from us so you can easily say all in the family tonight, so please join us now in giving a warm welcome to our evening's guests peter
richardson david talbot it is a great pleasure to have you both gracing our virtual halls welcome. to city lights live well, thank you here. many peters tonight. we have peter richardson peter maravillas from city lights, and it's a great honor for me to be here with the author of savage journey peter richardson. i'm very pleased to be here tonight. i've been a big fan peters for some time now i read with great interest his history of ramparts magazine, which played a big role in my development as a young journalist and hunter thompson did too i have to say i first read hunter thompson when i was a student at santa cruz you see santa cruz back in the early 1970s and his fear and loathing in las vegas and then later his coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign had a huge impact on me as a young
journalist, so i read with great interests new book about honor. i knew hunter a little bit myself later on as editor of the san francisco. diameter i actually have the great pleasure of editing a couple columns by hunter thompson that was late in his career, of course, but you know to me he was an icon still is an icon. i had a huge impact on me and many at many other young writers and journalists in america, so i'm delighted to be here tonight with peter. i will jump in with a few questions and then we're gonna i will jump in with a few questions and then we are going to open it up and take questions from some of you. peter, good to see you. you look like you are in windy creek, colorado. >> i'm in glenallen not far
from where you are but it is another spot where hunter thompson lived before colorado. he moved to san francisco. >> let's talk about hunter's san francisco roots and since we are being sponsored by the iconic city lights bookstore let's talk about what drew hunter back to san francisco in the 16s and 50s, what period are we talking about? >> he arrived in 1960 and hitchhiked, driven a rental car, he had driven a car across country and dropped it off and hitchhiked from seattle to san francisco. what drew him here frankly was a place like city lights, he was very into what the beats were doing, didn't idolize the beats but respected what jack
caro at could do in getting a new kind of writing not only published by a major publisher but to become a publishing phenomenon. and and he applied for work at the san francisco chronicle and san francisco examiner. he almost immediately decamped to big sur which was another outpost and was also the home of henry miller who was one of his real heroes. the original poll was the impulse had not crested yet, was starting to give way already, bill clinton and caro
at would meet back east and allen ginsberg moved away as well but what they accomplished in the san francisco was very important to hunter thompson. >> since you did write a great book about ramparts, an important magazine. bay area journalistic figures. yearbook was fascinating about ramparts, that's an important magazines. >> it was. after he published hells angels, an important magazine for him and a social nexus. he never published anything but felt strongly connected. i heard from bob scheer today and he worked at city lights books for 3 years around the
time that he was starting with ramparts, he was finding it steep, it had not begun when hunter thompson arrived in san francisco it began in 1962. only when warren hinkle takes over and brings the magazine to san francisco, became the legendary muckraker we know today. >> hunter could have developed the way he did as a journalist anywhere else in the country or is there something about northern california in the 1960s, more open to his writing. >> i don't think he could have done it in new york, louisville or aspen or chicago or boston.
not only could he not have done it in san francisco 10 years before or 10 years later. i think he needed to be in san francisco when he was in san francisco and he acknowledged that too, much later in life, first in logan, in las vegas, he talks about the period as a key era, he comes back and works in san francisco in the 1980s but much later than that, those are my people, mid 1960s in san francisco, that's one of the arguments i want to make in the book that even though he lives in woody creek, colorado four decades after that, in many ways, best seen as a barrier. >> talk about hunter in that
period, what is he absorbing, what is he learning. >> he went from big syrup to hear where i am not far from here and moved to parnassus avenue in san francisco, wasn't really cut out for urban living and he would rather live in these places like glenallen or aspen. but i think it was important he did come into the city during that time. he was still writing for the national observer, the wall street journal dow jones publication at the time but he wasn't thriving. he attended the 1964 gop convention, learned some things
there, an important lesson. about the modern conservative movement but wasn't into politics at that time. in short order he was trying to do what tom wolfe was doing back east which was take these exotic west coast subcultures and turn them into stories for big national magazines. >> unlike tom wolfe, tom wolfe to me, he got a lot of credit for very little, hunter got involved with that he wrote about. he got stumped by hells angels for heaven sake. >> that is important. he didn't generate that story. he left national observer kind of broke off his relationship with them.
was always a freelancer, but he needed new outlets and he wrote a query letter, they only paid $100 for an article, barely more than that now, but he was trying to make a living as a freelancer, carey mcwilliams said why don't you write about motorcycle gangs, because the state attorney general issued a report on them as a threat to law and order and thompson said great, he went to one of their meetings, and he had a buffer for the san francisco chronicle, and member of the hells angels, and it was all
participatory reporting, i don't think tom wolfe could do that. i don't think john vivian could do that. riding with the hells angels took a physical courage not many reporters had. hunter dined out on that for the rest of his career, got the kind of respect that war correspondents get because he rode with the angels for a couple weeks, he wrote the article for nation magazine and then parlayed that into a book deal and it became his first bestseller and at the end of that year, got stopped by the hells angels in a dispute which remains fuzzy but had to do with the fact they thought they would benefit from his story and promised a keg of beer and didn't pay up. the point is that is how the book ended.
>> participatory journalism to the max. let's talk about bay area years, very important scanlons and rolling stone, there could be no hunter thompson without the young editor of the rolling stone, warren hinkle, and encouraging the kind of enterprising swashbuckling journalism that becomes gonzo journalism. >> that's an important time for him. he moved to colorado before the book came out. but maintains the san francisco
connections, and met one, and in ramparts magazine, not financial but in terms of impact and circulation but there is a famous story about them going out to lunch and when they came back, the cappuccino monkey warren kept in the office got into hunter's office. they were friends, they met. >> tell us about warren, what character he was. >> they hit it off immediately. he never got into ride for ramparts. they remained friends. then frankly hunter began to struggle a little bit. he signed some contracts, he was having trouble with his second book, couldn't finish it and the logjam didn't really
break until james salter gave him the idea to write about the kentucky derby and pitched that story to warren. if you don't know who warren was a good match hunter thompson in terms of his personality and stamina as well, and he had a great feeling for high conceptual stories and realized this could be a great way to work together. scanlon was just starting, he was recruiting people actively and even though he couldn't get thompson into ramparts, he got into the debut issue, and this was an abject failure, he was
ashamed of this story. once he saw -- >> he began ripping notes out of his notebook, pages out of his notebook and faxing them in, he couldn't write the story, couldn't fill in the patches in the story, felt like a mess he sent to warren and warren put the pieces together and polished it up and warren said he knew his illustrations, it was warren who introduced those two, they never worked together before. they had never met. once warren put those two to gather, it takes a little while but people realize this is a franchise. >> warren midwifeing is the midwife of gonzo journalism.
>> by pairing him, i misspoke. the first issue of scanlon ran hunter's -- that didn't help until illustrations. it is not usually regarded as an example of gonzo journalism but once you put stedman and thompson together thompson thought he had failed but then everybody was saying this was a breakthrough in journalism and he described the feeling as falling down an elevator shaft, landing in a pool full of mermaids, something that turned out to be a huge success and immediately went back to warren and said this is it, the thompson stedman report, we will go to america's cup, mardi gras and this is going to be a
franchise and we are going to take those stories and put them in book form so he really thought he had something. the problem was scanlon was already going under and there would never be, they published the last issue in january 1971 and unfortunately because warren deserves a lot of credit not just preparing those two but conceiving and birthing gonzo journalism thompson would eventually have to find another outlet for that kind of work. >> in some ways john brenner, the young editor who started rolling stone and got started under warren hinkle, really benefited in gonzo journalism and hunter thompson at rolling stone. >> absolutely true. i think he ended up getting a
lot of the credit. warren was very aware of that and the conception of gonzo journalism was a scanlon thing but nobody had any choices. with rolling stone which was a -- he was older than most of the people he wrote for rolling stone, wasn't a college graduate who she was an air force veteran. there are a lot of ways he didn't quite fit the mold, and the stuff might click with rolling stone's readers and he encouraged him, the first contact came when hunter wrote to jan after that in rolling stone and just said that was final. >> the death of the 1960s where
hells angels, a concert going and stabbed to death. >> the hells angels were there. >> providing security. >> exactly. >> thompson followed that story with some interest because after having written about the hells angels he was very tuned in to that story and thought rolling stone did a fantastic job, won their first national magazine award. rolling stone was coming along quickly and hunter as a freelancer always on the lookout for new outlets, began to see that rolling stone could be one. the first couple pieces he wrote for rolling stone were not gonzo. and there's a whole story about
how gonzo -- >> let's talk about fear and loathing in las vegas which to me introduced me as a young reader, hunter thompson, stedman lustration, leapt off the page but that was a collector's item. that issue of rolling stone in which hunter thompson gave birth to gonzo journalism as we know it. my first question about that is for you to define gonzo journalism for those who don't know what it means. what is gonzo journalism? >> sounds like a genre, the new journalism, not really a genre but a description of hunter thompson's work after 1970.
and and that piece was totally gonzo. hunter heard him use that term covering a primary in 1968, in exemption and he thought let's call what i'm doing gonzo journalism. very successful as a branding exercise. wasn't really the name of a genre. it was a super important step. it was never the predictable result of a conscious project. he was in la to cover a different story and working with oscar acosta. in the middle of that research, he got an offer to cover a road race in the las vegas desert
outside of las vegas. he and acosta, he comes back, writes about the story, submits it to sports illustrated, they reject it. a lot of people would say okay, onto the next thing but he is furious. he doubled down, expands the story, 10 times longer than what sports illustrated wanted and he sent it to rolling stone where he has written two pieces. as soon as he does, the people in the office at rolling stone say this is magic. >> it is participatory journalism, he put himself in the story as well as oscar, he fueled insane coverage of las vegas hi often, made no bones about that. kind of a heightened realism in
gonzo journalism, and other people, other reporters were more objective. hitting on some of the things that entertain me, what are other aspects of journalism? >> taking the new journalism out, at the very center at the experience. the writer is not just essential character but the entire world reveals its meaning through his sensibility, here's the indispensable part of the story. i would go back to one of the points you made, they didn't have a lot when they went to las vegas, they had some
alcohol, some benzedrine which oscar liked and dexedrine which hunter liked and that was about it. one of the reasons, they don't go as oscar and hunter but as doctor gonzo and rally duke. there is good reason to see this as if not a traditional novel but a hybrid, fictional form, working the crease between journalism and fiction and considering the drug cash at the beginning of the book, ronald do, that is, none of that is there. so i think we have to think about it more as fiction than as journalism. it is still shallow. it is still classified. to go to a bookstore, if you
should do that, you do have a way to buy books in your resume link, think a little bit about that. it was a brand-new thing for sure but not sure it fits comfortably as a form of journalism or as a traditional form of fiction. >> this is the essence of hunter thompson at this hybrid style of writing. today, i think journalism is pretty drab, there is no voice to it, very little voice to it, it was taken out largely in magazine writing online as the last repository. in mainstream journalism, you don't come across voice writing
the way hunter thompson pioneered. so i don't think he could succeed in today's marketplace, difficult enough time you write in savage journey as a journalist in those days. he had his run in the 1970s but it was increasingly difficult for a writer like hunter but there's something about it, we were talking about this beforehand, something about his writing got an inner truth about america particularly in the years he was writing. so-called lunacy of gonzo journalism there was a heightened realism, a kind of truth that other journalism can't get at. talk about that coverage particularly of the 1972 potential campaign when nixon was running for reelection, and
share with us your insights into that which you go into in the book. >> the first point about his coverage in 1972, then talk a little bit about how he got that assignment. by the time he collected his dispatches from the campaign trail and put them into the book which became critical and commercial success, he had decided -- >> fear and loathing on the campaign trail. so he had decided to take this assignment. later his work was described as the least factual and most accurate description of the campaign and there you have it. least factual but as he got a lot of things wrong he didn't
try to get it right. there was a lot of satire, a lot of invective, a lot of exaggeration, a lot of hallucination even. there's a kind of heightened realism. he was trying to get at some truth that he realized his colleagues on the campaign trail didn't see her couldn't express, the hard news stories the editors had. so he decided to try a different way of covering the story. in some ways he had a different way to do it. he had no advantages. surrounded by very seasoned reporters from major news organizations who had a lot of support, resources, connections, readerships. they had everything they needed. he was at the bottom of that totem pole.
had to think hard about how he could make his mark and he did that, by saying i'm not doing any of this stuff. he took his own weakness and turned it into a kind of strength, no intention of coming back on the campaign trail. he could burn all of his sources of he decided to. it didn't matter. so the fact that he represented a fledgling magazine from san francisco, that should have been a disadvantage but he managed to turn into an advantage by telling the unvarnished truth not only about the campaign and politicians, he went after viciously, democrats as well as one republican, richard nixon who he hated, openly detested, made no bones about his preference. you are not getting objective
journalism. he dispensed with those conventions. instead the unvarnished truth has he understood it. not only the campaign but the other media and that is super important, always working, always looking both ways, looking at the thing he is writing about and the way other people cover it. when you see something by hunter thompson and crazy ideas, and show you what was behind the curtain. >> he had a radical vision, took from his writing as a young journalist, here he is from republican kentucky, kind of libertarian, politics were very diffuse and he saw america are washed in greed and violence and addiction to war
and frankly the country hasn't changed that much in the last several decades, but there was a kind of insight into what america was about. >> that is right and that is why so much over the years, some of it, i don't think he will have a lot of audits for the way he handles race, women, feminism or homophobia, if you reread him now you will see that quickly especially if you read his letters. that is his voice. he only becomes interested in american politics after the democratic national convention in 1968, he's traumatized by
the police riot that he witnesses. only then, he pivots away from tom wolf journalism stuff. taking a direct deed on american politicians like hubert humphrey, edmund muskie, richard nixon, mayor daley in chicago but really it is a kind of journey in a way, multi-staff journey and some more serendipitous things happen as well to shape his body of work. let me ask you a question, i don't think warren's politics were really worked out cleanly. would you put them both in a similar category? >> warren is more a product of
san francisco, he kind of along with the water he drank, he drank in the liberal progressive in san francisco so i would put him to the left politically of hunter thompson. consciously, and they were both mavericks and they liked their drink, they liked to have a good time and that was part of the spirit dubbed the 60s and 70s when they were operating at their best so there was something that linked the two. the journalism they added in those areas, rolling stone, before moving to new york and even my salon during the dot.com era were examples of bay area journalism the couldn't exist anywhere else and i am proud of that.
even reading obituaries about john duty, iconic and great figures, she produced, she was a great writer, produced a lot of great writing and again and again california is not given its due, i am so grateful for the work you have done on ramparts and hunter thompson, because i think the west coast doesn't get it to do from the new york media until this very day. hunter thompson the do that he deserves. >> that is very much in my mind when i sit down to do this work. the funniest version of feeling that you are expressing, the san francisco public library when the rampart book came, some of his family members and
other people who contributed, the person who organized the event for the san francisco public library listens carefully to the presentation in conversation and stood up and asked a question, seems to me if ramparts had been published in new york city, there would have been a broadway musical about it 20 years ago and i think there is some truth to that. in a way, it was an advantage to be in san francisco because you can try new things without fear of immediate failure. there was a nurturing culture underneath it that was more experimental and innovative and do-it-yourself and collaborative. all those things helped. ramparts magazine was helping out on all their issues and all the guys that left ramparts and
went on to start mother jones, there is a real synergy. >> the archives and research in this book and opening up, in five minutes, to open up for questions from the audience which we are anxious to hear. let's talk a little bit about your process as a writer. you were frustrated by the blocks you faced, trying to access hunter thompson's archives. many researchers in a similar block when they were doing their own work, tell us something about that and hope for the future, are these archives going to be open at some point? >> the good news is hunter kept everything.
something like 800 boxes of stuff, mostly correspondence. he kept copies of his correspondence going back to his teenage years maybe even before that. it is just an enormous treasure and we've seen two great volumes come out of that edited by douglas brinkley and if you haven't read it and you love thompson i recommended that. some of his best stuff. not on deadline, not edited, not written for money, just him expressing himself. in a colorful way. we see what a great literary networker he was and maybe that is why he kept everything the way he did. it was inspired by some other people like henry miller who posted in big sur and used his correspondence to keep his literary network alive. that is what you have to do if
you live in these remote places. 's model of authorship was so unique, he had to do things differently and one of them was write letters like crazy. the letters are a great source, but the ones published in those books by brinkley, unavailable including his son. hits only seen, the archives once. he was writing -- >> who is responsible for it being so shut? >> a consortium, thompson sold it to a consortium that includes johnny depp and there has been some talk about trying to do something with this but those finances and personal life are a little messy right now so i don't think these letters at the top of the list of things we could get to in the short term and they may be
trying to sell them to a different place. they have librarians, research librarians working on them, processing them and so on. they are supposed to be in a storage facility in los angeles but they may be made available. who knows? but right now -- >> go about your research than for the book. >> what to do you have then? you can go out and talk to people who worked with him, i did that is much as i could. covid put the kibosh on a lot of those face-to-face interviews but as you probably inferred i spent a lot of time thinking about how he worked with his editors. the more important person in terms of the success he achieved. >> the artist. >> that was really it is easy to overlook his contribution to that franchise.
>> didn't go to las vegas. oscar did. >> he came up with fantastic illustrations and gave a kind -- gave gonzo its iconography, very distinctive. you couldn't go to ask her's archive, the same thing shutdown because of covid. i talked to as many of his editors as i could and tried to tease out what it was like to work with them and in a word it was excruciating. as the 70s war on he wasn't doing any new drafts, any second drafts or third draft which he always did when he was younger, no first drafts, he begins to live into his persona more and more. i think his biographies have covered his celebrities. i wanted to get at what made
him distinctive as a writer and that is where i focus my research and assessment, trying to read it and situated using the correspondence and oral histories that have been done so we could figure out his decision-making during this time. it was not a smooth frictionless process. it was haphazard, uneven, the stuff that made him famous. it took years to figure out his most important literary aspects. when he figured that out he stuck with it and for a little too long, he was getting diminishing literary returns. in the 1980s obviously most of this was behind him and yet none - talking to editors about
how they worked with the men turned out to be illuminating. what did you see when you saw hunter thompson in san francisco? >> i was an editor in the san francisco examiner, the harris corporation runs the chronicle but back in the day, will was very enterprising about bringing in people like warren hinkle and hunter thompson and other unique voices and dave mccumber usually edited hunter's columns. dave and he had a unique relationship and he talked to dave. >> couldn't get him to go on record. it happened a couple times. these interactions with hunter thompson are so valuable, writers are keeping to themselves. >> i told you this story.
it was my one great memory of working with hunter. she did come into newsrooms. my colleague steve chappell who was a great writer described him as walking like an upright crane -- praying mantis, a jerky movement, this lanky frame that was funny and interesting to watch as he made his way across the newsroom. i worked on a couple columns, he was on vacation and i always remembered rewriting the great hunter thompson. it was like repainting michelangelo. i was in that position because we were on deadline. he hadn't file that he filed something printable so i actually great - the great hunter thompson. i read it to him on the phone. he wasn't in the newsroom that day. i think he was in woody creek. there was silence over the
phone, this is terrible, he's going to hate what i have done. it is not bad. he changed one or 2 words and they were brilliant that he actually recommended i do what hunter thompson liked. by then he had one brain cell left or two brain cells but god bless him, he still had enough self-respect to change my writing back here and there to make it more hunter thompson original. this would have been, i don't know, late 1980s and it wasn't the hunter thompson i had grown up with. but hey, speaking of the marketplace, just the fact that he was able to break through
even in those days in the 60s and 70s with a unique way of writing. the novel from the victorian era, a novelist long forgotten called new grub street how difficult it was for writers to make a living as a writer in victorian england where the book is set and it evokes the great hardships and ridiculous travails writers have to go through to get published for very little money. someone like hunter thompson to break through the difficulty, to establish a lifelong career the didn't end well for him but god bless him, he still to me is a blazing light.
to acknowledge his great contribution. >> one thing about the marketplace opening up after that if it is time, maybe peter and guide us in that. toward the end in the 1980s, it is interesting to the not just because of the bay area but because he went after the hearst newspapers viciously. they were a real target for him, the media criticism. some of it is funny, at the examiner's expense. there he is working for the examiner. at the end of his career he's writing for espn. he comes full-circle, as a sports writer and a sports writer but don't forget, espn,
1/4 of espn was owned by the hearst corporation and the people, his editors he knew from rolling stone and he met will hearst. those networks and those connections turned out to be very helpful for him, his literary productivity was declining, there were these old parameters, will hearst and espn were two of his best friends. >> i think we should open it up, take questions from our audience. >> we have some. joseph asks can you talk a little about hunter's first novel prince jellyfish? it appears in the songs of the dune and it is still not ever
released. is there more to it? >> i don't think so. i'm not looking for that. the person i look to on that is william mckean, the biographer. we don't know if that much about it. i haven't heard that. i don't think he was a great fiction writer. you can see why it took so long. journalism is so energetic and powerful, precise, funny, over-the-top, all at the same time. fiction is traditional by comparison. if prince jellyfish was not as good, then i know he pitched it to angus cameron who was an editor who had been blacklisted in the 1950s.
he was carey mcwilliams's editor on middle ground, very successful but he had been blacklisted. arthur solicitor -- schlesinger had that charge. he and cameron struck up a correspondence which turned out to be super instructive and instructing but it was not over the top. if anyone else was on who knows something else i welcome that. >> question from stuart. what hunter consider nixon a lightweight now that we had mcdonald, can you imagine the words he would have said about the country today? >> a couple things about that. i write in the book i don't think donald trump or his supporters or the media reaction to them would have
surprised hunter thompson. he had been trying to warn us about people like this for a long time and at the time he wrote that stuff in the 70s, it seems hyperbolic but hyperbole has its place and over time it seemed more prophetic than hyperbolic. all the things he wears imagining about nixon, nixon, bill mckean, biographer, he said about hunter that nixon was his muse and away. nixon brought out hunter's best to work, he hated him with white-hot intensity. it pushed his new register. don't forget after nixon is reelected in a landslide thompson writes in rolling
stone a few days later comparing nixon to a werewolf. the problem, what do you say about reagan, the downside of hyperbole is less running room, once you are over-the-top in that particular way. i think thompson got lucky in that. when nixon's presidency goes down in flames so does thompson. most of his best work comes out before nixon redesigns. >> david asks can you tell us how the friendship between hunter thompson and greg bradley came to be? >> great question, i don't know.
thompson befriended charles corral, in latin america, in the early 60s, they remained friends for a long time, he brought a ton of them. many of them on this call right now and many girlfriends, many of them contacted me with their stories, it was all interesting. i am not sure, he was doing a lot of political reporting. it wouldn't be uncommon to across anybody who did that. it is true that they had a close friendship. bradley would come to woody creek and watch football with hunter. there is a real social network there that is important.
hunter ran a little show. a lot of bedding. and the bedding brought them closer to gather and the political journalist too. if you read about the campaign trail you will see that hunter was proud of his record bedding against experts in other journals but he didn't do it just to display his expertise. he also did it to bring them closer together with his colleagues, wasn't part of that group when he joined the campaign press club. the first -- the force of his personality and these other mechanisms to ingratiate himself and stand out. >> curtis hemmer asks if we see fear and loathing in las vegas as a work of fiction, a novel,
what distinguishes it from carol act's on the road? >> that is a good question. that is what hunter admired about carol act -- --kerouac. likely fictional lysing them and selling them as fiction through major publishers. and it included stuff about taking drugs which was very important to hunter in the 1950s. his other is the ginger man, jr dunleavy, the same sort of transgression. there is this kind of rogue at the center of the story. that was sold for its erotic, for many years.
all of that was catnip for hunter thompson. same with henry mills, the fact that his stuff had been banned for someone like thompson is very important. he took henry miller's the world of sex, and sent it to norman mailer. they had never met. it was his introduction to norman mailer. a really interesting letter, and announcement to mailer that there is this young, feral fiction writer on the right. that is how he presented him. a person who was writing a great puerto rican novel. >> bill asks your recent nation piece represented hunter thompson to angus cameron, facts are lies when they are added up. can you elaborate on what he
meant by this? >> i think he meant there are certain kinds of truths that fiction can get at that nonfiction can't, certainly journalism, traditional journalism, objective journalism. they are going to miss some plain truths, great example is nixon. nixon knew how to play the game, he knew the rules of objective journalism. thompson saw that and realized you better get at him and his essence, fictional lysing at, not worrying about it. and go for the truth. in a way that fiction lends itself in a way traditional journalism did. you can get more theoretical about it. i don't think that was hunter's interest.
historiographers would say just getting the facts straight is not always going to get you to the truth lodz every list of facts is a theory in the weeks since. this is my theoretical concern but hunter came from the point of view that fiction was better getting at this stuff than traditional journalism. his critique and tim krause's critique of campaign journalism, these guys are missing it. the real story is about nixon. >> am krause wrote for rolling stone, the boys on the bus. >> right, right. i think what they added, they end up writing the most memorable account of the 1972 campaign, least factual and
most accurate. tim krause's was more accurate, it was a sustained look at the media and its shortcomings. hunter was a little bit more intuitive, i thought he was an astute media -- >> i think we have time for couple more questions. rm asks what caused you the most while writing this book? >> i guess two things. one, i mentioned the letters. at the end of the day, his best stops. i didn't expect to reach that conclusion. the other thing i already alluded to. >> he wrote the letters to what? editors? friends? >> he would write them to llb complaining about their latest product. it took it to a level of art. he would write to the
television station in grand junction, colorado, tell them about the garbage they were airing. hilarious, really something. letters to honey barger. letters to phil graham at the washington post. just incredible how many people he wrote to. the letters themselves are incredible. that is one thing. i read the letters. after a while you realize you got two. these letters might be the best. that was one thing. the other thing, i had to sit with this for a while. he didn't know what he had. some of this stuff was almost accidental. some of the success, these were fleeting opportunities, very serendipitous, just pursuing this and even after being successful he didn't always
realize that was his future. gonzo franchise, here's an example i don't think i mentioned but should have. his editor wanted him and his agent wanted him to include the las vegas material in the second book he was supposed to give to madame and he said no. i don't want that printed with my more serious stuff. it will ruin me and make a fool out of me. that is why they called it nonfiction because he had a contract to write fiction and it came out that way. and became the most important thing that he ever did. but he thought if it wasn't handled just right, it would ruin him and he thought the same about the kentucky derby. i think that is really interesting, a sharp guy who
made a difference. experienced freelancer, didn't see that path even as it was opening up. once he saw it he couldn't walk away from it. i talk about that as well. probably should have. he was encouraged to shed the gonzo thing and start writing in another mode. it was hard for him, he worked hard to achieve that success. even though the celebrity was a mixed bag, he couldn't let that go. >> time for one more question. amica asks are there any future projects you hope to tackle the develop out of the work you did for this book? >> the one word version, one word answer, yes. i had another idea, but the
more i think about it, getting advice, might want to keep turning on this a little bit. because many ways i realized again after i finished this whole thing that the last 3 books on ramparts, hunter thompson, kind of informal trilogies about the san francisco counterculture. if you add in carey mcwilliams, not a countercultural figure but left of center political journalism, but some advice i have been getting from knowledgeable people, maybe there aren't enough books about san francisco. david has written one of the best, but i think there's more here. the fact that people responded
positively to it is a sign that there is still stories to tell but the broader audiences as well. >> we look forward to the next book and the thing i regret most about these virtual events is you can't go out for drinks. >> also lisa cook who if confirmed will become the first black woman to serve on the fed board. when congress returns will have live coverage of the house of course on c-span.
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