This week’s book review is “The Curse of Lono” by Hunter S. Thompson.
“Bonjour!” from the beautiful city of Paris! This weeks’ book review is a very different view of Hawaii. Finally, a whole new generation can discover the genius, bordering on insane, writings of the world famous and groundbreaking journalism of Hunter S. Thompson.
After having been out of print for decades, Hunter S. Thompson’s venture to the Aloha State, “The Curse of Lono,” has been reprinted, this time by Taschen, a leader in publishing fine high-quality archival art books. Thompson’s strange Hawaiian adventure comes to life through the unsettling and yet beautifully evocative illustrations of English artist Ralph Steadman, whose work traditionally accompanies Thompson’s words. Interspersed with excepts from Mark Twain, William Ellis, and Richard Hough’s Captain Cook biography, Thompson covers brutal and cutthroat surf competitions, watches folks gorge themselves with food readying themselves to run to exhaustion in the Honolulu marathon, and joins a fishing expedition gone horribly wrong. He had a bizarre way of getting himself wound in a frenzy of craziness, often with shady characters that were somehow related to the event he was writing about.
This style of his is what has now come to be called “gonzo journalism”—his trademark style. Hunter Thompson was perhaps one of the most unusual journalists to come from the 20th century and still is unmatched in its time. Seeing Hawaii and its history from the “gonzo” perspective is an entertaining social commentary which is both poignant and incredibly funny.
What made his journalism interesting to people was the fact that he was living on the fringes of insanity while at the same time articulating his observations with razor sharp coherence. The line between genius and madness is very thin, and his writing teeters precariously on that tightrope. “The Curse of Lono” is a beautiful example of his work.
Ed and Cynthia Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.