The most disturbing of these texts is the most recent. Friends Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis (Braudis is the look-the-other way sheriff of Thompson's Colorado county) spend a lot of time telling us insider stories in The Kitchen Readings. Fair enough, but they seem to gloat on their insider status, and the subtitle claim of "Untold Stories" is a lie. Some of this stuff's been told before. Maybe our criticism springs from jealousy at not being an insider ourselves. Still the stories, even if a number of them are secondhand, are entertaining. We especially like the ones about Thompson's pea fowls. And there's a good accounting of the blasting of Thompson ashes over his beloved Woody Creek from a 150-foot-tall cannon topped with the gonzo fist. Read it and weep.
Thompson was a pack rat all the way back to his high-school days, and we gonzo nuts are glad he saved every letter, photo and rough draft. Gonzo, which bears his name as author, is an oversized scrapbook of photos and documents that highlight various periods of Thompson's life. There's little to read here—an occasional quote in large type breaks up the pages of photo collage and another introduction by Depp—but it's a joy to see this handsome youth from Kentucky become the balding and ribald pessimist we all love. This book will make a great coffee-table coaster for those sweating tumblers of Wild Turkey. As Hunter said, a phrase often repeated in all these books, "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Indeed.
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson, an oral biography by Jann S. Wenner & Corey Seymour; Little Brown. Hardcover, 467 pages, $28.99; The Joke's Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson and Me by Ralph Steadman; Harvest Books. Paperback, 416 pages, $15; The Gonzo Way by Anita Thompson; Fulcrum Press. Hardcover, 112 pages, $14.95; The Kitchen Readings: Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis; Harper Perennial. Paperback, 274 pages, $13.95; Gonzo by Hunter S. Thompson; AMMO Books. Hardcover, 289 pages, $39.95.