ATG Quirkies: Revisiting Hunter S. Thompson’s Weird, Brief Stint as a Local Sports Editor

by | Nov 23, 2021 | 0 comments

Revisiting Hunter S. Thompson’s Weird, Brief Stint as a Local Sports Editor was posted by  David S. Wills and appears in Literary Hub.

Although it may not have counted for much on a résumé, by 1957 Hunter S. Thompson had some real experience as a writer and editor. In just two years, he had gone from being in jail and having no high school diploma to being a rather talented young sportswriter who now knew that he could make money by putting words on paper. He had found something that he could do well and which he sometimes enjoyed, but most importantly he had recognized that writing would engage him for the rest of his life:

“Events of the past two years have virtually decreed that I shall wrestle with the literary muse for the rest of my days. And so, having tasted the poverty of one end of the scale, I have no choice but to direct my energies toward the acquisition of fame and fortune. Frankly, I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left me..”

“Throughout his whole life, Thompson offered contradictory views on writing, saying often that he hated it and only did it for money, but elsewhere that it was an unrivaled sort of high. He revered great writers and included himself in their ranks, yet also talked of it as a foul vocation for people too degenerate to do anything else. This applied to journalism more than fiction and it applied doubly to sports writing. Thompson’s lucky break had come in sports writing and he had managed to develop a talent for it quite quickly, but although he would return to this much later in his life and look back fondly on the birth of his career, it was initially fiction that attracted him and, in his mind, a real writer was one who wrote novels.

“Before becoming a great novelist, though, Thompson knew he had to cut his teeth as a reporter. It was, after all, far more likely to pay his bills, and it couldn’t be that bad of a career move if Hemingway had done it. The older writer had once said that he learned everything he needed to know about writing from The Kansas City Star style sheet, a claim that provided Thompson with some hope. But how would he proceed? How does a young and inexperienced writer with a violent personality and a penchant for drunken shenanigans make himself a success? It was time to search for a job tolerable enough to keep him employed for more than a year…”

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