In a strange and ironic turn of events, two days after I wrote my review of his recent essay collection Hey Rube, Hunter S. Thompson took his own life at his home Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. So far there is very little hard news about Thompson's death, except that it was suicide and the body was found by his son Juan and his new wife Anita was out of the house at the time. Thompson's close relationship with Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis means that very little info about his death is getting out besides a basic AP report which all the newspapers are picking up for their late editions.
It's no secret that Thompson had a very volatile personality and was given to bouts of fairly severe depression. From his recent writings he also seems to have been dwelling on the lung cancer death of his friend Warren Zevon several months ago. It's hard to believe that Thompson would take his own life, especially since he always seemed to be so much more full of life that most people. It's probably too early to speculate on the reasons, but if I were a betting man like Thompson, I'd give good odds that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late December when he missed 6 deadlines in a row for his ESPN column. In the wake of Zevon's slow and unpleasant death that's exactly the kind of news which would send him into the blackest of moods, and given the choice between a slow death and a quick clean exit I have no doubt which Thompson would choose. It's very telling that his wife was away at the time, while his son Juan who lives with his family in Denver was on the spot to find the body and to take care of the details.
In his 67 years Thompson authored over 20 books, including many collections of extraordinary essays and a couple of recent novels. His most famous works are Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which was made into a movie with Johnny Depp as Thompson and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail which formed part of the movie Where the Buffalo Roam starring Bill Murray as Thompson. Perhaps even more significant was his early work from the 60s, Hell's Angels where he went undercover with the motorcycle gang and chronicled their out of control lifestyle. Recent works of note include Generation of Swine, Songs of the Doomed and Generation of Fear.