Starting in on Hunter Thompson
Someone asked me the best way to start in on Hunter Thompson, what book to read.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is his masterpiece. After, or during that, pick and choose pieces from The Great Shark Hunt. His piece on the Kentucky Derby is, I don't know, much more important than Fear and Loathing: there was nothing like it in literature until he wrote it and so much of what we now consider good writing, even intellectual living, flows through that breach.
Hunter Thompson is the continuing path through a tube made by Franklin, Nietzsche (while German, yes, he completely destroyed eons of European thought, freeing up room for everything, anything new), through Hemingway, the Marshall and Eisenhower interstate plans, Vietnam and Nixon into how Americans think about our interactions with life. After him comes hip-hop, and then here we are. He's like a comprehendible, cynical, but pragmatic Walt Whitman, clearing out all the crud that clogs the tubes.