To William J. Kennedy
July 12, 1967,
Woody Creek Colorado
I have just captured a skunk….and have paid the price. It’s 12:45 a.m. here and the smell is ungodly. Everything–me, the dog, the car, the house–a hideous odor. The thing looked so small that I figured he wouldn’t have much of a blast. But he did. I now have him locked outside in the horse trailer. Tomorrow, the scalpel…and then the whip. I shall prevail. This skunk will write The Great American Novel.
Along those lines, yes, I’m writing a few letters tonight. Severing all connections. Agents, editors, publishers–al the scum. Even the innocent. I just wrote Harper’s, saying I couldn’t write the article they bought because I don’t want my agent to get 10%. And I wrote Random House, demanding all my money, at once. There will be no Rum Diary as long as that contract exists. Nor will there be any “non-fiction project.” I feel experimental these days. Something new is wanted.
To Selma Shapiro, Random House:
Going through her files at random House, Hell’s Angels publicist Selma Shapiro came across a photograph Thompson had sent of himself–naked–taken in Haight-Ashbury. She one-upped the joke by sending it back.
Jan 1, 1970
Woody Creek, Colorado
Words fail me at this time. What can a man say to a person who returns a stark naked photo of himself? probably next week the publicity manager for Today will send back my Phi felt pin…and I’ll find that special locket I gave Jay Allen* on sale in some dingy East L.A. pawnshop.
Well, life is ugly. We do what we can, but the scales tell the story every time. Fear and loathing is everywhere. The swine have come home to roost.
In the meantime, I trust you are still selling well. And that life in NY is still rattling around on those peaks that those of us in the outback will never know. OK for now. I’ll send word when I finish wrapping my new product.
* Jay Presson Allen had adapted Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel, The Prime of Miss Brodie for the stage in 1966.
The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume One