The fantastical stories of Hunter S. Thompson have come to an end, after his suicide on Feb. 20. He was 67 years old.
For more than three decades, Thompson carved out a name for himself in the worlds of journalism, books, and movies. His signature form of writing, dubbed “gonzo journalism” entertained and shocked millions of readers.
Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 18, 1937. He had a crime-filled youth and enlisted in the Air Force as part of his parole. It was in the Air Force that Thompson began his career in journalism. He was the sports editor for the Eglin Air Force Base newspaper and continued writing after he was discharged.
“I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for me,” Thompson said.
Thompson had a general apathy towards most professions and the nomadic lifestyle of a journalist suited him best. His unique form of “gonzo journalism” placed him in the event or story that he wrote about—a stark contrast to the detached and impartial reporting associated with journalism.
He gained fame from his first book Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, written after a year on the road with the Hell’s Angels. However, it is Thompson’s book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was made into a movie in 1998, that received the most critical acclaim and popularity. The book exemplifies Thompson’s signature writing style, which is characterized by sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and lots of profanity.
Many say that Thompson’s wild lifestyle and troubled psyche were at the root of his suicide, yet others say he just wanted to dictate his own death after running into a host of physical ailments. Whatever the cause, Thompson has found a way to illustrate his wild ways even after death: at his wish, his family has arranged to have his cremated remains shot out of a cannon onto the grounds of his Colorado home.