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Peter Richardson on Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo

January 25 @ 6:00 pm

A superbly crafted study of Hunter S. Thompson’s literary formation, achievement, and continuing relevance.

Savage Journey is a “supremely crafted” study of Hunter S. Thompson’s literary formation and achievement. Focusing on Thompson’s influences, development, and unique model of authorship, Savage Journey argues that his literary formation was largely a San Francisco story. During the 1960s, Thompson rode with the Hell’s Angels, explored the San Francisco counterculture, and met talented editors who shared his dissatisfaction with mainstream journalism. Author Peter Richardson traces Thompson’s transition during this time from New Journalist to cofounder of Gonzo journalism. He also endorses Thompson’s later claim that he was one of the best writers using the English language as both a musical instrument and a political weapon. Although Thompson’s political commentary was often hyperbolic, Richardson shows that much of it was also prophetic.

Fifty years after the publication of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and more than a decade after his death, Thompson’s celebrity continues to obscure his literary achievement. This book refocuses our understanding of that achievement by mapping Thompson’s influences, probing the development of his signature style, and tracing the reception of his major works. It concludes that Thompson was not only a gifted journalist, satirist, and media critic, but also the most distinctive American voice in the second half of the twentieth century.

Peter Richardson has written critically acclaimed books about the iconic rock band The Grateful Dead; Ramparts magazine, the legendary San Francisco muckraker; and Carey McWilliams, the radical author, journalist, and editor of The Nation magazine.

David Talbot is the esteemed author of four popular history books, and the founder and original editor in chief of one of the first entirely digital publications, Salon magazine. A former senior editor of Mother Jones magazine, Talbot is a journalist and columnist who has written for the New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. His book Season of the Witch was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller for four years and was the 2015 San Francisco One City One Book pick. His most recent book is titled By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution and was co-authored with his sister Margaret Talbot.

Sponsored by the City Lights Foundation