Friday, September 14, 2007

Hunter S. Thompson was the polar opposite of an academic elitist, the late gonzo writer”s widow said last night during a book-signing in the District.

He was not writing for professors, he was writing for his people, Anita Thompson told a crowd of about 40 people at Olsson”s bookstore on Seventh Street NW, talking about her new book, The Gonzo Way: A Celebration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Now a student at Columbia University, Mrs. Thompson said her professors are not as welcoming as Mr. Thompson, whom she credited as the one who introduced me to literature.

Mrs. Thompson, 34, worked as an editorial assistant for the famed author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before their marriage in 2003.

When I first met him, I didn”t know who he was. He was just a guy I had a crush on, she said, adding that her family initially freaked out at her decision to marry a man 35 years her senior.

Describing Mr. Thompson as a Southern gentleman in the truest sense of the word, she said of her attraction to him, I was into the fun, and he was the funnest person I ever met.

She described Mr. Thompson”s workdays, which began with a large breakfast that included Chivas Regal scotch while he read the newspaper.

He did most of his writing between midnight and 6 a.m., she said, preferring a typewriter to a computer.

His death by self-inflicted gunshot in February 2005 produced an outpouring of grief and support from fans of the writer. After Hunter died, I received hundreds of e-mails from young people around the world. … People felt lost, Mrs. Thompson said.

Many of those fans, she said, seemed to misinterpret her husband”s career — and especially his reputation for substance abuse.

A lot of young people are under the assumption that if you do a lot of cocaine and drink a lot of Wild Turkey, you, too, can write like Hunter S. Thompson, she told the audience that included Richard Cusick of High Times magazine and R. Keith Stroop, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Of her husband”s suicide, she said, Hunter did love life, and I believe he loved life until the very end.

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