The son of the legendary gonzo journalist recalls his turbulent but exciting years swimming in the wake of a most mercurial creature.
Thompson fils identifies himself only as a “computer guy” in this debut, and he comments early about the unreliability of memory. He also warns us that his account includes some “outright lies,” but which tales are they? The author, born in 1964, embraces chronology and begins with a sketch of his father’s youth (he calls him “Hunter” throughout). He also asserts that his father was “one of the great American writers,” so we understand what sort of museum we’re visiting. The author does not smooth over the rough fabric of his father’s life: he was smoking, drinking, and taking cocaine virtually to the end. He was temperamental, ignored his son often, and enjoyed numerous women. But he loved the outdoors, shooting (he would kill himself with one of his pistols in 2005; the author found his body), and, of course, writing. The author shows us a hardworking writer, dedicated to his craft. Thompson père did not, as the son reminds us, take more than a few college courses and told his son that the only thing college was good for was having four years to read. (This author, fond of the remark, quotes it three times.) There are many “daddy issues” here, as well, and the author tries to convince us that the birth of Thompson’s grandson—though initially a tough thing for him to accept—became a tremendous influence on the family coherence that ensued. A few celebrities wander through—notably, singer Jimmy Buffett and film star Johnny Depp, who portrayed Thompson in the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Shows clearly the occasional horrors of living with a substance-abusing celebrity but is also suffused with filial love and regret.