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Screwjack: A Short Story

Overview

Hunter S. Thompson's legions of fans have waited a decade for this book.

They will not be disappointed. His notorious Screwjack is as salacious, unsettling, and brutally lyrical as it has been rumored to be since the private printing in 1991 of three hundred fine collectors' copies and twenty-six leather-bound presentation copies. Only the first of the three pieces included here — "Mescalito," published in Thompson's 1990 collection Songs of the Doomed — has been available to ...

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Screwjack: A Short Story

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Overview

Hunter S. Thompson's legions of fans have waited a decade for this book.

They will not be disappointed. His notorious Screwjack is as salacious, unsettling, and brutally lyrical as it has been rumored to be since the private printing in 1991 of three hundred fine collectors' copies and twenty-six leather-bound presentation copies. Only the first of the three pieces included here — "Mescalito," published in Thompson's 1990 collection Songs of the Doomed — has been available to the public, making the trade edition of Screwjack a major publishing event.
"We live in a jungle of pending disasters," Thompson warns in "Mescalito," a chronicle of his first mescaline experience and what it sparked in him while he was alone in an L.A. hotel room in February 1969 — including a bout of paranoia that would have made most people just scream no, once and for all. But for Thompson, along with the downside came a burst of creativity too powerful to ignore. The result is a poetic, perceptive, and wildly funny stream-of-consciousness take on 1969 America as only Hunter S. Thompson could see it.
Screwjack just gets weirder with its second offering, "Death of a Poet." As Thompson describes this trailer-park confrontation with the dark side of a deservingly doomed friend: "Whoops, I thought. Welcome to the night train."
The heart of the collection lies in its final, title piece, an unnaturally poignant love story. What makes the romantic tale "Screwjack" so touching, for all its queerness, is the aching melancholy in its depiction of the modern man's burden: that "we are doomed. Mama has gone off to Real Estate School
...and after that maybe even to Law School. We will never see her again."
Ostensibly written by Raoul Duke, "Screwjack" begins with an editor's note explaining of Thompson's alter ego that "the first few lines contain no warning of the madness and fear and lust that came more and more to plague him and dominate his life...." "I am guilty, Lord," Thompson writes, "but I am also a lover — and I am one of your best people, as you know; and yea tho I have walked in many strange shadows and acted crazy from time to time and even drooled on many High Priests, I have not been an embarrassment to you...."
Nor has Hunter S. Thompson been to American literature. Quite the contrary: What the legendary Gonzo journalist proves with Screwjack is just how brilliant a prose stylist he really is, amid all the hilarity. As Thompson puts it in his introduction, the three stories here "build like Bolero to a faster & wilder climax that will drag the reader relentlessly up a hill, & then drop him off a cliff....That is the Desired Effect".

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Thompson published this book in 1991 in a run of only 326 copies, all of which are now are pricey collector's items. Simon & Schuster here reprints that title, which consists of three short stories, in a much easier-to-find and -afford edition. Though not known for his fiction, Thompson has become a cult figure and still manages to attract a good-sized audience. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684873213
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 12/13/2000
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 226,066
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. His books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Rum Diary, and Better than Sex. He died in February 2005.

Biography

Hunter S. Thompson has always had taste for starting trouble. As an ornery Kentucky kid, he was the undisputed leader of the pack, getting himself and his willing followers into trouble. Not much has changed -- Thompson still has throngs of supporters and fans and is now an icon of outspoken, unapologetic social commentary.

Thompson realized in high school that he didn't fit in with society at large. Seeking direction, he joined the Air Force after graduation, determined to be a pilot. While on the long waiting list for pilot training, Thompson was offered a position as an editor and sportswriter for Elgin Air Force Base's The Command Courier. He jumped at the chance, quickly excelled as a journalist, and even began moonlighting at a local paper. Despite his numerous offenses against military protocol, he was given an honorable discharge in 1957.

Thompson knew that writing was going to be a fixture in his life. He was an avid letter writer, often mixing fact and fantasy. After allegedly stealing a box of carbon paper when he left the Air Force, he began keeping copies every letter he sent. Eventually, his letters would be published in The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955-1967 (The Fear and Loathing Letters), three books of love letters, correspondence with his family, and scathing complaint letters to companies Thompson deemed bad for society. The collection is considered a must-read for the glimpse it gives of how desperately Thompson wanted to be a writer.

After the Air Force, Thompson bounced through newspaper jobs, barely making ends meet and working on his first novel, the still unpublished Prince Jellyfish. In 1960 Thompson moved to Puerto Rico. It was less than ideal -- paychecks bounced regularly -- but his time in the Caribbean yielded The Rum Diary. Thompson tried to sell the novel to Random House in the 1960s, but they declined (it was eventually published in 1998).

Thompson's first novel, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, came out in 1966, catapulting him to fame and intriguing readers with his fast-paced writing and mischievous, wicked sense of humor. With the success of Hell's Angels, Random House finally purchased The Rum Diary. However, as legend has it, Hunter felt that it needed more work, so he convinced a Random House secretary to steal his manuscript back for him.

By the time Thompson released Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream in 1971, he had perfected his signature style, Gonzo Journalism: wild and erratic, capturing events as they happen, stripped of motive yet decidedly fictionalized. Thompson isn't a passive observer but is instead another one of his freaked-out characters. In the voice of Thompson's alter ego, Raoul Duke, he and his attorney, Oscar Acosta (Dr. Gonzo), go on a destructive drug binge while traveling to Las Vegas to report on a motorcycle race and crash a district attorneys' convention. Thompson found an artistic counterpart in illustrator Ralph Steadman, who designed this cover and others. It's classic Thompson and in 1998 was made into a movie staring Johnny Depp.

A self-proclaimed political junkie, Thompson gave his readers a glaring testimony of the truth and lies found while following the 1972 presidential race in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. In fact, one of Thompson's grand, recurring themes is the myth of the American Dream. The four-volume Gonzo Papers consists of articles, essays, and fiction. They are a massive attempt to expose the failure of the American Dream and show where hope is still possible. The four volumes, in order, are The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979), Generation of Swine:Tales of Decadence and Degradation in the Eighties (1988), Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (1990) and Better than Sex: Trapped like a Rat in Mr. Bill's Neighborhood (1994).

In 1980, Running magazine sent Thompson to Hawaii to cover the Honolulu Marathon. Friend and illustrator Ralph Steadman joined Thompson for the trip, and the result was The Curse of Lono, a fully illustrated, colorful, and strange mix of fiction and travelogue. Another oddity in Thompson's collection of works is his notorious 1991 release, Screwjack, a limited-print novella containing three short stories, ostensibly written by alter ego Raoul Duke.

In Thompson's 2003 release, Kingdom of Fear, he seems to have broken the rules one more time and written his own biography. The book tracks the life of a rebel -- the formative experiences of a wisecracking southern boy questioning authority and the unorthodox journalist who came to personify genre-bending, mind-bending outlaw stories.

Thompson's final book, Hey Rube (2004) brings him full circle; it's a sample of his columns from his stint as a sportswriter for ESPN.com. Thompson doles out searing indictments and uproarious rants while providing brilliant commentary on politics, sex, and sports -- at times all in the same column. Proving once again that he's on top of his game, his keen eye for corruption is as sharp and unforgiving as ever.

Fans and friends were shocked and saddened to learn of Thompson's death in February, 2005. While his narratives are often weird and ugly, he will always be respected and hailed as a professional risk taker, legendary agitator, and literary genius.

Good To Know

True to form, Hunter S. Thompson missed his high school graduation because he was in jail at the time, serving a six-week sentence for robbery.

Thompson once ran for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, under his own Freak Party, whose platform included changing the city's name to Fat City in hopes of scaring off corporate investors.

Thompson was the original inspiration for Uncle Duke, a larger-than-life controlled substances buff created by Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau.

Mötley Crüe named their Generation Swine album after Volume Two of Thompson's Gonzo Papers. The book dealt with the debauchery and decadence of the era, and they found it perfect for their sleazy, irreverent brand of rock 'n' roll.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Hunter Stockton Thompson (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 18, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Date of Death:
      February 20, 2005
    2. Place of Death:
      Woody Creek, Colorado

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2011

    Buyer beware:

    It does have a page #, look under details. 12pp
    Buyer beware, it's a 12 page article!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    NOT WORTH IT

    I love HST and own mostly all of his stuff. I guess I was not aware that for 13$ I would get 10 pages of a book. WHAT THE HELL?!?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    From Mescaline with Love

    The Capt. here, after almost ten years of this book being a mystery, i finally had the pleasure of reading it finally, peculiar enough it was while i was stuck in Traffic for about 45 minutes, and let me tell you people, i finished it and haven't been quite the same. ScrewJack,a collection of 3 short story's by the doctor of journalism, and maybe in this case, the doctor of Oddity, Hunter S. Thompson. The first story 'Mescalito' a memoir if you will of Thompson's first experience with Mescaline and the whole trip that came along with it. It is true prose; not from a premeditated artist's mind, but from the mind of a White man twisted on a sacred drug. Next up is 'Death of Poet', a beautifully written piece on the bloody line between art and violence. The last story made me quesy with horrible visuals, ScrewJack. A twisted love affair Raoul Duke, Thompson's alter-ego, has with his little kitty. from French kissing it to fantasizing about it giving him the prison treatment, and finally giving the cat quite a petting at the end. Thompson fans must read this, it is beyond Gonzo, it's lyrical all right, and a bit frightening. The Capt

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2011

    Really, $11 for an extended article?

    After reading just about everything in print by Thompson, I was intrigued by what for $11 could only be another, previously unpublished book.

    Brilliant exploitation of a man who can't defend himself from this piracy any longer.

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    well...,

    the title does say short story.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    you guys really should consider adding a page number

    in the description. is this a short story? i cant tell and wont buy it since im not paying 11 dollars for 40 pages if it is. my rating is the average so it wont affect ratings much.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    Hunter S Thompson perfection...

    This book captures everything Thompson is and his writing shows it. if you want to read a book that gives you Hunter in all his pride and glory and magnificently exausting writing, Screwjack is the book. I read this in one sitting, and in my opinion, there is no way you could put it down. if you did, you'd feel guilty and pick it back up again. Complete destruction and utter brilliance. Screwjack is a revelation for Thompson fans and soon-to-be Thompson fans will not be disappointed by any stretch of the word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2005

    Unusul, pure Hunter T.

    SCREWJACK is wacked out---even more so than his FEAR AND LOATHING (my favorite book, by the way, next to McCrae¿s ¿Katzenjammer¿ and Boyle¿s ¿Water Music¿). Sure, this is odd, even for this author, but the mix of stories leaves you wanting more. The three stories build to a crescendo like a piece of music. Then cuts out as if someone suddenly pulled the needle from the record. Thompson is in fact a fine craftsman of language, which is prominently displayed in SCREWJACK.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2011

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    Posted June 11, 2010

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    Posted December 12, 2011

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    Posted September 9, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

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    Posted March 8, 2009

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    Posted June 30, 2010

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    Posted January 17, 2010

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    Posted February 26, 2009

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    Posted December 27, 2009

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