Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

by Edgar Allen Poe, William Saroyan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson

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Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Liz » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:13 pm

This is the final question for Hunter Week. Check in tomorrow for our final guest writer.

Can you see any common threads in the writings of Saroyan, Kerouac and Thompson or between the authors themselves?
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:34 pm

I think they were all deep thinkers. They looked at life and carefully observed what was there, and also what was underneath there. In some cases, maybe they thought about things too much. :-/ I think they all three had an interest in people and their motivations as well.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby gemini » Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:18 pm

Can you see any common threads in the writings of Saroyan, Kerouac and Thompson or between the authors themselves?
I had to think a bit on this one. I think all three traveled and wrote about people and places. All wanted to improve on society in some way.

Saroyn served in WWII, Kerouac was in the Merchant Marines and Navy before the war but they both wrote of the depression and when times were tough. Hunter was a bit younger and served in the Air Force in peacetime but became very involved in politics as a journalist. They all had hopes of changing the world for the better, Saroyan's writings were optomistic about life itself during hard times, Jack with his beat movement, Hunters involvement in politics to the point of taking his life when things looked like they were not going the way he thought best.
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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Buster » Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:36 pm

All three of their styles have an immediacy and an intimacy about them. A sense of being in "the present", whether they are writing of the actual moment they are living (probably Hunter did the most of this), or of a moment in their own past (like Saroyan's evocations of his childhood). I think this is why "Burial at Sea" seems in some way less typical of Thompson's work - it just didn't sound like he was there on the boat to me.
They all had their demons. I think they all have that "outsider" mentality as well, which may contribute to their shared genius at close observation of other people.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:49 am

Great answers. I actually didn’t see a common thread with Saroyan, unless we are talking about just his ability to deeply feel and to want to keep his legacy alive. If I look at TTOYL, I would say this stanza most connects the 3….

“In the time of your life, live” with a HUGE emphasis on LIVE.

I see lots of parallels between Kerouac and Thompson. Each liked to LIVE, liked to drink, liked their male buddies, took life and their art VERY seriously, both lived in Big Sur for a time, both ran in some of the same circles. Some of you may not know, but in 1960 (a year before HST wrote the Big Sur piece) Jack Kerouac missed his chance to meet Henry Miller in Big Sur because he stayed too long at his favorite North Beach Bar. According to the Vesuvio website, Miller had written Jack to tell him he enjoyed reading Dharma Bums and would enjoy a visit from the emerging writer. But Jack continued to drink on the day they were supposed to meet, calling Miller every hour to tell him that he was just a bit delayed in leaving the city. He never left the city that night.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby deppaura » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:55 pm

I am not totally knowledgeable about any of the writings. Have not read the works in depth. But, I sense that, as Liz noted, Saroyan wasn't exactly a "good ole boy" Forgive me, but, Thompson and Kerouac for me, sometimes have an off putting "locker room boy" feel. Wonder if they appeal more to men then women? Or maybe I'm put off by the "drug" connection aspect of their episodes?? Guess that isn't a particularly sophisticated attitude. :blush:

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:13 pm

deppaura wrote:I am not totally knowledgeable about any of the writings. Have not read the works in depth. But, I sense that, as Liz noted, Saroyan wasn't exactly a "good ole boy" Forgive me, but, Thompson and Kerouac for me, sometimes have an off putting "locker room boy" feel. Wonder if they appeal more to men then women? Or maybe I'm put off by the "drug" connection aspect of their episodes?? Guess that isn't a particularly sophisticated attitude. :blush:


Deppaura, don't feel bad about your reaction to some of these authors. I forced myself through On the Road by Kerouac, and the same with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that Hunter wrote. I have watched the F&L movie several times only because Johnny's performance was amazing, but the movie itself is :yuck2: as far as I am concerned. Still, I converse with people on line who think Fear and Loathing was one of the funniest most brilliant pieces of writing ever. By exposing my brain to various kinds of authors/writing and various reactions to it, I feel like I am learning much about life and people. And because of Johnny's great affection for Hunter, I pick up Proud Highway now and then and read a few pages because I have learned Hunter wasn't all drug-crazed insanity, he was smarter than he let folks know. I don't know if it is "sophisticated" or not, but because we are here and we are opening our minds to the experience, I think our "attitude" is just fine. :cool:

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby deppaura » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:28 pm

Nebraska, that is what I appreciate about this experience as well. Letting go of some pre-conceived notions. And, I do appreciate the "gift' of expression from these authors. Thanks for your input. I was looking around, once again, and found someone's comparison of Thompson and Kerouac. I will share that http://www.headsonfire.blogspot.com/200 ... gency.html" .

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Buster » Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:08 pm

Thanks for the link, deppaura.

No writer exists in a vacuum - either they are influenced positively by some one who has written before them, or they are struggling to be different from those before them. It's been said that Kerouac took quite a bit from Thomas Wolfe's style (the sprawling, big voice, big idea) and as I said before, Mark Twain and Hunter have some things in common.

It's wonderful when reading makes us more tolerant of others' lifestyles. Perhaps you wouldn't like me, but knowing me through books at least gives you enough time to consider it..

Do you like me now? Do you like me, now? Do you like me...?

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby suec » Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:27 pm

I Ithink they all had something to say about living in the moment. I can't think of Hunter without remembering 'Buy the ticket, take the ride'. They each of them promoted that view in their different ways. I like what Johnny said about what he took from Kerouac about moving forward like a sanctified juggonaut. And the opening to the The Time of Your Life, I think each of them subscribed to that view, although they might have expressed it differently:
In the time of your life, live... smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.
I think each of them had their sense of spirituality, but also the spirit, the fight in them, and I don't know, a certain ruthlessness perhaps. Perhaps that isn't the right word. Anyhow, I think of them as prophets, I suppose, and none too inclined to take too many prisoners along the way.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby ladylinn » Sun Nov 22, 2009 4:30 pm

Interesting question - had trouble answering - I think all 3 writers were very talented and each were dealing with life from different perspectives. Each did indeed have demons to deal with - but all were very smart and certainly intouch with where they were.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:35 pm

Thanks for the link, deppaura. I agree with Blue in his comparison of the two, especially here:

And let's face it -- Kerouac's best work was thinly veiled nonfiction at best anyway.

Look at On the Road. Drugs, the road, depravity, enlightened and admired companionship, and a little dash of homoeroticism. That pretty much sums up Thompson's work as well, in my opinion, except Thompson did his work in a more journalistic way; i.e., he sought these qualities out in people he didn't know or noticed these characteristics in the subjects he wrote about.


I like Hunter's writing, probably the best of all 3. I love his style. I appreciate and enjoy his outrageousness, his humor and some of his descriptive, wistful passages. Many of his quotable one-liners are priceless. I am amazed that he can pull me in to a subject that I could care less about, just by virtue of his writing. I just loved this piece:

You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Buster » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:03 pm

Oh man, that article made me miss my bike so much...and for the days when the dirt driveway was filled with a motley array of Triumphs, old BMW's, the Indian, and, (got to love it, but nothing was better for chasing goats) the Elsinore. Thanks, Liz, for the flashback.

His enthusiasm for the edge resonates with my own. Hunter is my favorite of these three, partly because his writing led me to so many other authors I've enjoyed. There's something about "expanded" non-fiction (or journalism with a healthy dose of opinion) that is appealing.

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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby gemini » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:05 pm

Very interesting comments. Again I find myself looking deeper than I started before our discussion.

Liz mentioned she did not actually see a common thread with Saroyan, unless we are talking about just his ability to deeply feel and to want to keep his legacy alive.

Deppaura's comment interested me about Hunter and Kerouac being good old boys and being more interesting reading for men, and Saroyan not so much.

I sort of felt the same so I looked a bit deeper into Saroyan and now I think they may have had more in common in life than I originally thought. Here are a few exerpts I found doing a bit of reading on Saroyan. Here is the link for those who want to read it all.

"The writer is a spiritual anarchist, as in the depth of his soul every man is. He is discontented with everything and everybody. The writer is everybody's best friend and only true enemy - the good and great enemy. He neither walks with the multitude nor cheers with them. The writer who is a writer is a rebel who never stops." (from The William Saroyan Reader, 1958)

Divored his wife when she revealed that she was Jewish and illegitimate.

Much of his earnings he spent in drinking and gambling.

From 1958 the author lived mainly in Paris, where he had an apartment. "I am an estranged man, said the liar: estranged from myself, from my family, my fellow man, my country, my world, my time, and my culture.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: Hunter Question #6 - Saroyan, Kerouac & Thompson

Unread postby Buster » Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:50 pm

This could have been said by any one of the three:
"His advice to a young writer was: "Try to learn to breathe deeply; really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell."


...but it was Saroyan's advice.


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