Hunting for the Real Hunter S. Thompson in the Great Shark Hunt

deadline for submissions: 
August 9, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Keith C. Wilson
contact email: 


The Great Shark Hunt is Hunter S. Thompson’s first volume of Gonzo Journalism, spanning about twenty years of articles which experimented in blending and bending genre. What makes these articles experimental is his unconventional use of fiction and humor in sports writing and political commentary.  

In this essay, I discuss how an audience should understand these as fictional elements, and the truth Thompson was telling was in the commentary based in setting. Setting in this sense means not just the physical, but cultural, and historical setting which shaped what made Gonzo journalism what it is. For example, early in the book is his more famous and widely-read “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent, Depraved” which told about the culture surrounding the sporting event rather than the action of the event itself, which Thompson didn’t see or discuss much in the article.