Going to Copenhagen tomorrow, to do my Speechwriting Jam Session for Danish scribes attending Rhetor Logograf 2011.
For the two-b.m. plane ride, I'm taking one last volume of Hunter S. Thompson's letters. Why last? What was once a young freelance writer's inspiration has become a middle-aged dad's guilty pleasure. More of an anxious pleasure, really.
Here's Thompson, in a drunken panic, trying to be the thing he pretended to be at 28, at 43.
I'm determined not to cling to a dying branch because there's no live branch within reach and the dying branch is better than no branch at all and the dying branch got me up this far, didn't it?
Like every older, heavier man who still insists on climbing fucking trees, I need to reach for big green branches. (In my most recurring dream, I am unable to bring myself to reach for something for fear I'll fall off the thing I'm holding onto.)
My writing hero Thompson never found the next branch—just kept holding, awkwardly, onto the first one until it broke and he fell out of the tree looking mostly like an asshole—and that's why Fear and Loathing in America (1968-1976) is the last batch of his letters I'm ever going to read.
Kurt Vonnegut seemed like a pretty graceful old man. Maybe I'll pick up the new biography And So It Goes in the airport bookstore, for the ride home.
Postscript: Just read the review in The New York Times: “And So It Goes depicts [the aging Vonnegut] as living in his 'own private rain,' stuck in a 'hexed' second marriage, nursing grudges and running out of writerly inspiration."
Maybe Robin Leach has a book out?