I consider myself (mostly) a serial reader but I’ve found myself in a reading logjam this year. The fault must be pinned to the chest of the late Hunter S. Thompson whose book of letters, “The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (Gonzo Letters)”, has me entranced like a Indian cobra drawn to the tune of the snake charmer’s pungi.
I had read some of Thompson’s work while I was in college (the first time), seeking inspiration from his “Gonzo journalism” through such books as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the America Dream”. And, other than the movie, starring Bill Murray as Thompson, I had all but forgotten about Mr. Thompson. Thanks to Amazon, I stumbled, not surprisingly, upon Thompson lying in a ditch along Route 50. The writing in “The Proud Highway” is fantastic and it is compelling reading. And to think he wrote everything on a typewriter using carbon paper to enable him to keep a copy for later publication. Hence this book and the other volumes which follow it.
Thompson was a writer and, judging by his prolific output, that’s all he could be. The sheer volume of his letters tells me that all he did was write. What’s even more amazing is he was writing while he traveled all through South American (among other places) with a typewriter. Can you imagine lugging a typewriter to Starbuck’s much less through South America? And he had to arrange to mail these letters. He received many letters too and often a letter was waiting for him when he arrived in Louisville, New York, or some city in South America. This required amazing foresight and planning.
Thanks to girth of “The Proud Highway” my reading queue is jammed like Columbia Pike, an un-proud thoroughfare bludgeoning its way through Arlington, Virginia at 5 PM on a Monday afternoon. Meanwhile I’ve purchased and/or started reading: Isaac Asimov‘s “It’s Been a Good Life“, “Wanderlust: The History of Walking“ and “The Field Guide to Getting Lost“ by Rebecca Solnit, “The Other Typist“ by Suzanne Rindell, “The October Country“ by Ray Bradbury, “The High Mountains of Portugal“ by Yann Martel, and “Rules of Civility“ by Amor Towles. This is not serial reading and I am wandering tramp in the wilderness.
This morning I was reading the book “Typewriters for Writers“ by Scott Schad and it pointed me to Steinback‘s “Travels with Charley“ which now holds a place on my Amazon shopping list. And while I was considering this book, I found a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson‘s “Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes“. I Purchased the “donkey“ book and started reading. I was hooked after two pages.
Yesterday I arranged to get my library card from the Fairfax County library system. I’m afraid this will only make matters worse. More books! I may need to hire ghost readers to read for me. There are real problems in the world and having a robust reading queue is not one of them. Instead its a blessing and I am blessed, for, like Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books…“.