HUNTER by E. Jean Carroll


The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson
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 The author of Female Difficulties (1985) offers the second recent biographical love letter (see Paul Perry's Fear and Loathing, p. 1361) to America's notorious outlaw journalist. Unlike Perry, though, Carroll makes the fatal error of imitating her subject's outrageous and hyperbolic style. Carroll interlaces two narratives here--one, a chronological arrangement of oral biographical comments from interviewees; the other, a gonzo piece of fiction about the supposed author of the book, one Laetitia Snap. But Carroll, for all her tough-girl posturing, is no match for her hero. Her rambling interludes written in Snap's voice add up to a tiresome fantasy of innocence deflowered, rough sex, and lots of drugs--not to mention enslavement in a cesspool. Carroll's main narrative tells much the same story as Perry did about Thompson's violent Kentucky youth: the lying and brawling, the arrogance and swaggering, the intolerance and meanness. All of this is redeemed, of course, when Thompson discovers his true talents while writing for an Air Force newspaper. Despite much duplication of Perry, Carroll scores a few coups, most notably a damning interview with Thompson's ex-wife, who tells the sordid truth of her husband's physical abuse and her decline into alcoholism. Carroll's witnesses also debunk a few myths about Thompson's first major book, on the Hell's Angels, but she herself remains a fawning admirer throughout. The most prominent refuseniks among Carroll's potential witnesses were two who could have revealed the most: Thompson's editor, Jann Wenner, and his collaborator, Ralph Steadman. George McGovern, Margot Kidder, Philip Caputo, and George Plimpton stand out for their insightful comments. But the most telling remark is attributed to an anonymous Rolling Stone editor: ``It got old real quick.'' Brace yourselves: A third biography is on the way. Let's hope it's less awestruck than the first two. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93568-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992