Fear and Loathing Worldwide
I contribute the afterword to this collection. You can read my piece, “Gonzo Without End, Amen” here.
For more than 40 years, the radically subjective style of participatory journalism known as Gonzo was closely, almost inextricably, associated with the American writer Hunter S. Thompson.
Over time, however, that label has been expanded to include the work of other journalists, many from countries other than the U.S. Literary journalists around the world often approach unconventional material in risky ways, placing themselves in the middle of off-beat stories, and relate those accounts in the supercharged rhetoric of Gonzo.
In some cases, Thompson’s influence is apparent, even explicit; in others, writers have crafted their journalistic provocations independently, only later to have that work labelled “Gonzo.” In either case, Gonzo has clearly become an international phenomenon.
In Fear and Loathing Worldwide, scholars from fourteen countries discuss writers, male and female, from Europe, the Americas, and Australia, whose work bears unmistakable traces of the mutant Gonzo gene. In each chapter, “Gonzo” emerges as a powerful but unstable signifier, read and practiced with different accents and emphases in the various national, cultural, political, and journalistic contexts in which it has erupted.
Whether they occur in Colombia, Greece, Australia, Brazil, or Finland, and whether their writers are immersed in the Dutch crack scene, or exploring the Polish version of Route 66, or on the trail of the 2014 South African General Election, these reports are driven by the same fearless disdain for convention and profound commitment to rattling received opinion with which the “outlaw journalist” Thompson scorched his way into the American consciousness in the 1960s, the 1970s, and beyond.