June 05, 2014

Hunter S. Thompson - Typing out the work of the best writers

Airman (2nd class) Hunter S. Thompson before his (honourable) discharge from the USAF in 1958.
Porter Bibb, a childhood friend of Hunter S. Thompson explained (8m) how the famous writer immersed and smothered himself in the work of many of the most famous writers of all time. He said:
"He chose, rather than writing original copy, to re-type books like The Great Gatsby and a lot of Norman Mailer, the Naked and the Dead, a lot of Hemingway. He would sit down there on an old type-writer and type every word of those books and he said, "I just wanna feel what it feels like to write that we'll."
Speaking with Charlie Rose in 1997, Hunter explained (9m) how this worked:
"If you type out somebody's work, you learn a lot about it. Amazingly it's like music. And from typing out parts of Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald - these were writers that were very big in my life and the lives of the people around me - so yea I wanted to learn from the best I guess."
Louis Menand reported in the The New Yorker:
"He used to type out pages from “The Great Gatsby,” just to get the feeling, he said, of what it was like to write that way, and Fitzgerald’s novel was continually on his mind while he was working on “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” which was published, after a prolonged and agonizing compositional nightmare, in 1972."
Johnny Depp, who's played the part of Hunter S. Thompson in 2 different movies, said:
"He'd look at each page Fitzgerald wrote, and he copied it. The entire book. And more than once. Because he wanted to know what it felt like to write a masterpiece. He was so hungry, yeah. Innocent, and yearning." 
OMG Facts recorded it like this:
"The Great Gatsby, originally written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a renowned 1925 novel that takes place during the “Roaring 20’s.” In the 1950’s, Hunter S. Thompson, then working at Time Magazine, used a typewriter to copy down The Great Gatsby, as well as Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, in order to learn about the writing styles of the authors and feel what writing a novel was like."
Reddit discussed it here.

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