The Spectator
(Louisville), Athenaeum Literary Association, 1955. The publication of the "literary association" of several Louisville, KY, high schools, which was in effect a social club -- and drinking club -- for the sons of the wealthy elite of the city. Thompson was accepted to the club as a freshman and developed a reputation as an extreme prankster: his "rushes" for the new recruits were the most outlandish of any member, and his own exploits constantly pushed at and past the accepted norms for the members. Thompson was 17 at the time of publication and a senior at Louisville Male High School. Signed (at a later date) by Thompson on the tissue guard preceding the page with the association's seal. Thompson is listed as an Associate Editor on the masthead and is later referred to as the Censor. He contributes an essay, "Open Letter to the Youth of Our Nation," that was the Third Prize Essay in the Nettleroth Contest, and which begins, "Young people of America, awake from your slumber of indolence and harken to the call of the future! Do you realize that you are rapidly becoming a doomed generation?" The essay, credited to Thompson, is signed within the text, "John J. Righteous-Hypocrite." His other contribution -- an essay entitled "Security" -- is even more scathing, and it sets the stage for the posture that Thompson took throughout his life: it begins by asking the question of whether security "is a utopian goal or is it another word for rut?" And it ends with another question, asking "who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?" There is also a photograph of Thompson in the annual, and his mother's name is included on the "Family Page." Thompson was expelled from the ALA shortly after this was published: he was involved in a robbery with two friends; the friends' wealthy parents got the other two off the hook but Thompson's father had died and his mother had no pull; he served 30 days in jail and was not allowed to take final exams or graduate from his high school when he got out. He left Louisville and joined the Air Force. Exceedingly scarce: we have never seen another copy for sale, or anywhere, for that matter. When the collector who own this brought it to Thompson to get it signed, Hunter tried to buy it from him as he did not have a copy himself. Thompson made him promise to offer it to him first if he ever did sell it. Thompson died before the collector decided to part with it. We can find no evidence that Thompson contributed to any earlier issue of this publication; there is only one copy (possibly) in an institutional library: the University of Kentucky holds a publication called "The Anthenaea" which may be a later name for the Spectator, and may include this issue, although that is not clear from their catalog listing. Without doubt the rarest publication in Hunter Thompson's body of work; the earliest; and one that foreshadows in clear terms the path he would take in his life over the coming decades -- that of an outsider, challenging the rules and norms, and defying authorities and the status quo, with passion, anger, and humor. Previous owner name, fading to spine, abrasion to front cover; still about very good in wrappers. [#031757] SOLD

All books are first printings of first editions or first American editions unless otherwise noted.

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