February 13, 2004

Hunter S. Thompson

Designated Reader -- The writer Ed Underhill once remarked that no man in his forties should read F. Scott Fitzgerald on a hot summer afternoon. "Far too depressing," Ed explained. There's no doubt in my mind that some authors are better enjoyed and appreciated at different times in your life. For me in my twenties, Cheever was a bore. After I turned thirty, however, Cheever had somehow suddenly become a wise, wistful sage without ever having changed a single word. Vonnegut and Salinger were beloved favorites in my younger years; lately, their writing seems almost too uncomplicated. Hemingway is an interesting case: I found his writing riveting in my twenties, pompous for much of my thirties, and simply masterful now that I'm in my forties. My guess is I would have much better enjoyed "Screwjack" twenty years ago. But, at this point in my life, Thompson's drug-induced ravings are merely annoying. Reading this is like being stuck sober at a smoky party waiting for a loud, sloppy, drunken friend to burp and finally mumble, "I think it's time to go home."


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