A slacker’s credo for pleasure

Posted in Read it in books on August 17th, 2009 by bill


My bedside reading for the last, I don’t know, seven years or so has been Dr. Thompson’s The Proud Highway, the first volume of his collected letters covering the years 1955-1967. This is a weighty tome, almost 700 pages in hardback, and offers a great deal of insight into the man. In his personal life he was something of a pig, racist and sexist and rude, but also unfailingly loyal to his friends. In his professional life he was an anything but a slacker; during the years covered by this book he cranked out unpublished novels and reams of correspondence while making ends meet as a journalist, often through difficult and dangerous travels in South America.

Which makes the following—an excerpt from a 1958 letter that seems all too timely 51(!) years later—that much more interesting.

I hadn’t realized I had so many gloomy, cynical acquaintances. Everybody wants to give me religion, sympathy, hope, forbearance, all sorts of idiotic priestly qualities so that I may better weather the storm of unemployment.

To hell with unemployment: I think it’s a fine thing. I like sleeping all day and having nothing to do but read, write, and sleep whenever I feel tired. I like waking up in the morning and going immediately back to bed if the weather is foul. In short, I think it’s a fine situation for a man to be in: provided, of course, that he has enough money to eat and pay the rent.
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