May 19, 2017

Better Than Sex

ScanI have always found the life of any book interesting. It is fascinating to track and research the history of a book, from it’s release to it’s newest form. It didn’t occur to me for some time to research the process involved in getting one published.

Hunter’s book Better Than Sex. Confessions of a Political Junkie. Trapped Like a Rat in Mr. Bill’s Neighborhood. Gonzo Papers Volume 4 has a very interesting story.

On July 31st 1992 Hunter, along with P. J. O’Rourke, William Greider and Jann Wenner flew to Arkansas to see and have a conversation with the then Governor Bill Clinton. Click here  The interview was published in Rolling Stone issue 639 Sep 17th 1992. Hunter referred to it as “the four stooges meet the next president.”

In 1994, a double issue of Rolling Stone magazine  (issue 686 and 687)  was published on July 14th. Hunter’s article was called Trapped in Mr. Bill’s Neighborhood.  Also in 1994 the book Better Than Sex was published. A fair amount of  what appeared in the above issues also appeared in the book.

Sometime during (or after) the above publications and meeting, Hunter prepared 3 red binders, thick with material. These binders went on to become the book, Better Than Sex. At least one of the binders was inscribed by Hunter “To Julie” Julie Oppenheimer was a “beloved friend” of Hunter’s.

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Here are the basics gleaned from emails to me from a friend of Hunter’s. Hunter wrote an outline to the publisher (Random house in this case) to get the book contract. He’d wait to receive a check then send the first binder. He would then wait for the second check before sending the next binder and the same with the third. I’m not sure how often, or if at all he used this method vis-à-vis his other books. At worst, though, the binder method created a humdinger of a collectible set.

I came to find out about all this when a lady contacted me in 2010 after she came into possession of one of the binders (image above.)  It was first described to me as follows… “I was given a 3-ring binder with approx 275 xerox reproductions of HST correspondence and notes, all in plastic sleeves.”

The binder was in NYC. I live in Ireland so I contacted the good and helpful Peter Knox who agreed to visit the lady and investigate the binder. After that we contacted a friend of Hunter’s who lives on the West coast. He flew in, met Peter and the lady, and they struck a deal. The binder was brought back to the West coast and now it sits in a collection somewhere. I’ve no idea where the other two binders are. I can only hope they survived.

As always feel free to contact me if you have any more information or want to correct anything I’ve written here. Out of respect for the collector any other information I have about the content of the binder will not be shared.



Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. When you say it’s in a collection somewhere, will it be open to scholars or other interested people, or is it kept privately?

  2. Wow. This is all news to me. Cool post Marty. Man I’d love to browse those binders…..

  3. As far as I know it is held privately.

  4. Another great piece Marty. Correct me if I am wrong but by sending one binder at a time then waiting for the check before sending the next it appears to show Hunter’s never ending dilemma
    with his finances. Keep on digging brother.

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About Marty

A long time fan of Hunter S. Thompson and long time book collector. Gentleman and a scholar. A pillar of society. A fine judge of wine and everything that ennobles the human struggle.


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