Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hunter S. Thompson on Butte, where you can hear "shouts from men on the graveyard shift up at the Never Sweat Mine"

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 12:34 PM

As he discusses in a blog post for the Atlantic, former Missoulian and Montana MFA graduate Brian Kevin recently uncovered some of the early—and largely forgotten—journalism of the famously, um, idiosyncratic, drug-induced, and whiskey-soaked Hunter S. Thompson. Though Thompson is most famous for Fear and Loathing and other works of so-called "gonzo journalism," Kevin argues that "Thompson ought to be remembered for his journalism and not just his gonzo." Among Kevin's evidence for this assertion is this opening to a 1964 story on Butte:

On a half-moon night in this dreary little city, you can walk for hours in the hilly, broken streets above the downtown district and hear little sound but the rumble of ore crushers and conveyer belts. You hear, too, the hiss of steam from underground vents and occasional shouts from men on the graveyard shift up at the Never Sweat Mine.

Once Butte was one of the wildest, richest boom towns in the West. But now there is an atmosphere of age and tiredness about the place, a feeling that the very earth you walk on is worn out from too much mining, that the air you breathe has gone stale from too much steam and ore dust, and that even the people are running low on energy.

Kevin's first book, The Footloose American, is due out May 20 and delves more deeply into the early life and work of Thompson. In it, Kevin traces Thompson's early '60s reporting trip through South America.

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