Hunter S. Thompson's 1958 cover letter for a newspaper job

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40 Responses to “Hunter S. Thompson's 1958 cover letter for a newspaper job”

  1. pidg says:

    “A Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.”

    He wasn’t just an asshole. He was an inspirational asshole.

  2. EarthtoGeoff says:

    Flying Spaghetti Monster, what an awesome guy.

  3. Donald Petersen says:

    If you think you can use me, drop me a line.

    If not, good luck anyway.

    That right there is how every jobseeker’s cover letter should close.

    This might be the most sensible thing Thompson’s written that I’ve ever read. “Here’s who I am, here’s what you can expect, here’s what I expect, if it sounds mutually beneficial let’s do it, if not let’s not waste each other’s time.”

    Not knowing anything else about the man, if I liked his samples, I’d hire him. Of course, knowing Thompson in retrospect, I might come to regret that. But I’d probably sell a pile of newspapers in the interim, before the liability costs mounted too high.

  4. Kimmo says:

    All hail HST… what a champion.

    Did he ever have anything to do with Kurt Vonnegut? I imagine those two could have produced some extremely entertaining conversations…

  5. CuriousInkling says:

    Awesome post. I swear, I could read everything I could get my hands on about this man. Just so you know there is a very cool site featuring Hunter S Thompson T-shirts that I think is awesome too. These are the most amazing art t-shirts tributing Hunter S Thompson I’ve ever seen. Really beautiful stuff!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Please spell Ottawa as if you know there’s a country to your north.

    yes, many very famous and important folks came from Canada: Shana Twain, William Shatner, Peter Jennings. How can anyone not know that?

  7. teufelsdroch says:

    Scott, whom Thompson had addressed his letter to, was a Sun columnist who was appointed editorial director in September 1958.

    According to Time, the “tart-tongued” Scott “unleashed all of his formidable flair for spectacular stunts” in his new role, which included sending the football editor to Formosa (now Taiwan) to interview Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Republic of China, and the women’s page editor to Cuba to cover the aftermath of the revolution.

    THAT is GENIUS. I would still drop everything to read either one of those stories.

  8. Guesstimate Jones says:

    The letter Thompson wrote in application for the Governorship of American Samoa is a timeless classic.

    “The Proud Highway” is my favorite Thompson book, because you get a glimpse of who Thompson was, and what he was about, before he wrote his own legend.

  9. Teller says:

    Very upfront letter. He laid out everything except Hey, let’s meet for a drink.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I’d hire him. Love him/hate him. he had the the talent to get people right riled up, his best gift. Not many people are willing,or able. to get in the face of the powers that be,let ‘er rip,then laugh his ass, then do it again.Wherever he may be, may he find his Bliss.

  11. ArghMonkey says:

    Please spell Ottawa as if you know there’s a country to your north.

    *sigh*

    yanks …

  12. minamisan says:

    Editors these days (if they ever read it at all) would likely throw it straight in the trash after seeing the words “… like to offer my services”.

  13. chris says:

    Here’s another fun Hunter S Thompson letter: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/09/okay-you-lazy-bitch.html.

      • Kimmo says:

        Working link: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/09/okay-you-lazy-bitch.html

        Holy fucking crap… get a load of this comment.

        Anonymous said…

        Blah, blah, fucking blah. Hunter knew his work deserved better treatment and gave this inflated bitch a literary flailing for giving him any less. That said, stop sucking this man’s cock. Thompson is dead and gone, and I doubt he would care about this letter’s reception much more than he did the ammunition that he brained himself with. He wasn’t a legendary writer; he simply used abrasive polish where most weak-minded hacks nostalgically glossed over. He had a way with words few do or ever will, but a literary giant does not that make. Sadly, his body of work will be legendary – not because of its significant quality and insight – but because cocksucking, hipster-cred-seeking meatbag swine will continue to add his name to their “My Favorite Authors” columns on Facebook and the like while they read little to none of his work. This is basically rubbing his ashes on your face and proclaiming, “I AM GONZO TOO!” No you fucking are not. You are swine. You are pigs-in-waiting that want to posture themselves as something you collectively cannot grasp. It isn’t an Acapulco shirt you can put on, it isn’t your shiny “Bid Red Shark” automobile, it isn’t the rum in your glass nor the cigarettes in your pipe stem, and if you think you have it, you should blow your brains out too. It died with Hunter because he knew pigs and all manner of terrible beasts would try to align themselves with something they feared because they lacked the power to comprehend, the “true grit.” In all manifestations of the phrase, he was essentially telling all of you (not just this lazy bitch) soulless fad-seekers out there not willing to commit to anything to go fuck yourselves (much better than I or anyone else can). Put on another mask and decorate your swine shell with insecurities, if only to cover your piggy features from discerning eyes. Make no mistake, THE WORLD SEES YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE AND WE WILL KILL YOU FOR IT. Nothing is so bad as humans lacking identity and even more the originality to make their own. Thieving, lying swine. Fuck you all.

        7 July 2010 08:18

        Not sure I entirely agree, but that’s one impressive rant.

  14. anniearonburg says:

    OttAwa not OttOwa

  15. Patrick Dodds says:

    Did he get the job?

    • querent says:

      He did not.

      I really recommend his collected letters to anyone who digs his work (I’m about half way through the second volume now). You can see the evolution of a lot of his philosophy (though a solid groundwork was laid very early), and it’s cool to see him struggle with his style.

      The letters are much milder in tone, in general, than the fiction/nonfiction he published.

      Interestingly, he breaks a rule Cory lays out explicitly in “Science Fiction Publishing for Dummies” (or whatever it’s called)…he rips into people who reject/edit/criticize his work. But only early on. Young egos bruise easily, I guess.

      “A high-powered prototype of some kind, never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

      RIP HST. Hope the season’s not over, where-ever you are.

      • agnot says:

        You can see the evolution of a lot of his philosophy (though a solid groundwork was laid very early), and it’s cool to see him struggle with his style.

        The letters are much milder in tone, in general, than the fiction/nonfiction he published.

        Interestingly, he breaks a rule Cory lays out explicitly in “Science Fiction Publishing for Dummies” (or whatever it’s called)

        I think writing is about setting rules and breaking rules, where and when you are good enough. A high stakes test. No mercy.

        What a match for Thompson’s personality! Life is a moving target.

        My respect for Thompson grows. He had the “right kind of eyes.”

        The letter seems Hunter-esque. He juggles any reasons someone might care about the truth against smoke, mirrors and bullshit, using imagery that illuminates the human gut. If you don’t like him, good, you are out of his hair.

        I don’t know that my respect overcomes my contempt though.

        Another of his characteristics, cruelty, had limits, I admit, after which he would stand up against cruelty. But I am unsure he ever succeeded in resolving that issue.

        His method of suicide was cruel to his loved ones. I know he had little tolerance for the euphemisms of civilization because something within had less tolerance for his own frailty. ergo, drugs, maybe. You can hear it laced in the genius of his words. But he just couldn’t seem to effect a buffer between that those close to him. Guess that is why he was him.

      • Metlin says:

        @querent

        Interestingly, he breaks a rule Cory lays out explicitly in “Science Fiction Publishing for Dummies” (or whatever it’s called)

        The difference is that HST was a real genius and one of a kind creative writer with balls of steel. Cory is a pop-sci “author” hack.

        There simply is no comparison. It’s like comparing Jean-Paul Sartre and Clive Cussler. Or something.

        • querent says:

          Yikes. I agree that HST was one of a kind, and he’s my favorite american writer. But I have dug all of Cory’s books I’ve read. Just saying.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Please spell Ottawa as if you know there’s a country to your north.

    Well, we know the country to our ‘north’ is Russia. But practically speaking, Ottawa is the second largest city in the 51st state (51-54th, not really sure which) and as such we should still spell it correctly….

  17. Snakefarmer says:

    Good stuff, there. I remember reading that letter in The Proud Highway at the time I was working at a dung-hole of a small town newspaper and really getting a kick out of it. That man had balls as big as church bells.

  18. Sean Bonner says:

    HST was such a bad ass.

  19. Anonymous says:

    re: Anon referring to the …(that I)…

    That’s Thompson “editing” his former boss’s memo, not someone editing Thompson.

  20. ethancoop says:

    Christ, what an asshole.

    • Anonymous says:

      who, you?

    • Fang Xianfu says:

      I disagree – I think the fact that he skirts so close to being an asshole and doesn’t hit it is what makes this letter so classy. He even explains in the letter why he’s doing it – that he didn’t do it last time and he got burned.

      The whole point of him playing up his assholery is to demonstrate to his employer that what he cares about is writing good words about good things for good people (taking care to define “good”), and pretty much nothing else. If they didn’t like the letter, they wouldn’t be the kind of person he’d want to work for.

      That’s why this letter is a shining example of how to write a great cover letter (and how to act in an interview, too): be yourself, because if you lie you’ll just end up miserable in the job.

  21. Anonymous says:

    …(that I)…

    you don’t edit HST like that, ’58 HST or not, the sentence was just fine without those parentheticals.

  22. dole says:

    I’m in the midst of writing a cover letter, so this is definitely inspiring. The world’s certainly duller now, him having left.

  23. Anonymous says:

    “overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity”….sounds like the ottawa citizen.

    sincerely yours

    hackney empire

  24. Anonymous says:

    I would have hired him on the merits of that letter alone.

  25. Anonymous says:

    “overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity”….sounds like the Albany Times Union

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