Sunday, February 27, 2005

853 Speaking ill of the dead

Not being particularly well-read, I didn't mourn the death of Hunter Thompson--in fact, I'd never heard of him, although when I read his obits in the various columns, some of his early titles sounded vaguely familiar. But so did Sandra Dee's. Now it has come out that he shot himself while on the phone with his wife, with his young grandson in the house. Can this be the guy people are eulogizing like he is some sort of iconic literary figure?

Thinking maybe I missed something important, that perhaps 30-40 years ago he might have had something to say, I scanned my bookshelves for a clue. There was a two volume Norton's up there (given to me by someone who had finished an American lit course). It can be a nice door stop, or a quick reference, less biased than googling his name.

So I dipped into "American Prose since 1945" in Volume Two. Quite a few names I recognize, even some I've read: Vladimir Nabokov, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Bobbie Ann Mason, Alice Walker, and Louise Erdrich (but not her husband--interesting--but that's another story since he was the better writer). Even Arthur Miller, also recently deceased and eulogized beyond what was necessary. Who would remember him if he hadn't married Marilyn Monroe? But no Hunter Thompson. Good. Apparently a lot of people didn't think he was worth reading when something better was at hand.

No comments: