The Crazy Line Between Fiction and Non-fiction
By Jr. Bellé
The difference between fiction and non-fiction is apparent. The basis of the first is the imagination, and of the latter is the reality-the facts. Many writers try to look into the border of fiction and non-fiction, in order to explore new techniques. For sure, one of the most influential of these explorers was Hunter Thompson, who, during the early seventies, luckily for us, messed it up completely.
In this time, the objectivity was a strict rule on journalism, the “lead” and its six questions (what, who, when, where, how and why) was fashionable, and the New Journalism was just discovering its masters. One of them was Thompson, but he pushed it so hard that he created a sub-culture of New Journalism, known as Gonzo Journalism.
Different to New Journalism, which always preserved the institution of the facts and the strict quest for the true, Gonzo never concerned much about it, because he believed the focus of the article is based upon the experience of the reporter. He is the major character, so, Gonzo is generally – but not strictly. Strictness is everything Gonzo was against, written in first person.
I will never forget the first paragraph of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, Thompson’s masterpiece – so, the Gonzo’s master piece – I read it in 2007 and I’m still able to recite it. Only a few books can be kept in the mind as this one: “We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like”. This is the funniest dialogue of all journalism until, maybe, “Paradise Burning: Adventures Of A High Times Journalist”, by Chris Simunek, who continued to write crazy and amazing articles for High Times like a smoked out master of our generation.
One very important point of any non-fiction written by Thomspon: the experience of the reporter might be influenced by several things – In his case usually drugs. His writing grows, develops, and shines under drug’s realm. Because of this many scenes of his books are questionable as facts. But, no doubts, those are the facts that were happening inside his mind. Using his own words: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
For example, one of the most famous scenes of “Fear and Loathing in L.A.” happened when Thomspon was in the reception of a hotel with his friend and Samoan lawyer. He was on acid and the woman behind the table became a monster. For sure she didn’t, in the real world, but in his disturbed mind, she did become a scary monster. Gonzo is based on the experience of the reporter, so, that’s the truth that Thomspon was perusing.
Because of this vague yet strict line between fiction and non-fiction, for many journalists, Gonzo cannot be considered non-fiction, which means that it’s not journalism either. But, many others advocate in favor of the journalistic qualities of this work. I’m one of them. And, to finish this short article about one of my favorite styles of non-fiction, I’ll quote Thompson: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”