Hunter S. Thompson.
A madman iconoclast with a sense of bizarre truth, a lanky, stooped-over, cigarette smoking, often drugged romantic in search of a noble dream, lost in brooding and despair, jabbing one finger on a typewriter at three in the morning, secluded on his Woody Creek compound.
A doctor. A politics junkie. A renegade journalist. More persona than man. A man haunted from Kentucky, writing on the run, poor, and chased after, adored and feared and respected, a loner splashing whiskey in a cold glass, sighing after returning from a night run on a sleek black bike.
HST held a warped mirror to America, and from its gleam, there was a beastly flesh, an unholy knot of muscles and undeserving righteousness.
“Generation of Swine” is a book made up of a hundred of HST’s columns from the ‘80s — long after his outlaw persona was known, long after his literary successes, where fans still expected him to be as cartoonish as the deranged Raoul Duke, rather than seeing him as the serious introspective man that he was in the letters of his youth (Proud Highway).
The main topics in this book are politics and culture.
Sometimes his words hit as hard as a kidney-punch. Brutal, unflinchingly honest, comically dark and twisted.
He’s at his best in the middle of a rant or when he’s philosophical about the condition of humanity.
Some of his columns seem irrelevant. Others are time capsules into important historical events and cultures, still relevant to the corrupt rules of our modern political game, but with different players.
Like always, he masters the line between fiction and reality. When the two overlap so much, reality feels more bizarre. But like Philip K. Dick once said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Tell that to an author who sees bats flying over the edge of a desert. Maybe the only reality learned from this collection is that it’s a strange world, one in which some people get rich and others eat shit and die.