In a letter dated Oct. 1, 1958, Hunter S. Thompson applies for a job at the Vancouver Sun in typical gonzo fashion.
He starts off by offering his services:
“Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley. By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand.”
Thompson admits he’s trying to be considerate by being so forthcoming, noting that “I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.” Thompson learned this the hard way: revealing his eccentricities only after being hired left one editor infuriated, he writes. “If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m ‘not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.’ (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.) Nothing beats having good references.”
“The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.”
Thompson boasted that he could work “25 hours a day” writing “everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.” He’s not one for office politics, and said “I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.”
He concludes: “It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip. If you think you can use me, drop me a line. If not, good luck anyway.”
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