Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hitchens's Review of Outlaw Journalist


I just read Christopher Hitchens's review of Outlaw Journalist in the Sunday Times today. I like the way he highlights Hunter Thompson's San Francisco heyday. Most of HST's best work was rooted in the Bay Area, though he's usually associated with the fortified compound in Colorado.

The first Bay Area benchmark was the Hell's Angels piece, commissioned by Carey McWilliams for The Nation when HST was living in the Haight. (Kudos to Hitch for mentioning McWilliams; I just noticed that Jonathan Yardley's review in the Washington Post skipped that critical connection.) Then there was the Kentucky Derby piece for Warren Hinckle's Scanlan's Monthly, also mentioned in this review. And of course Rolling Stone, which published his most famous work, was a San Francisco magazine with close connections to Ramparts. Those three magazines (Ramparts, Scanlan's, and Rolling Stone) produced some impressive fireworks in those years.

Fanatical readers of this blog already know that Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner worked for Ramparts' spinoff newspaper, that HST wrote for Scanlan's after editor Warren Hinckle left Ramparts, and that HST was a big Ramparts fan and appeared on the masthead for a while. But did you know that one of the first Americans Christopher Hitchens met upon his arrival in the USA was Carey McWilliams? And that Hitchens wrote for Ramparts under the name Matthew Blaire?

I learned that by visiting with Hitchens in Marin last year, and you can read all about that (and everything else) in my forthcoming book on Ramparts. Soon, I hope.

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