%> The Great Thompson Hunt - Books - Polo Is My Life

Polo Is My Life Boards ca. 1990

Page added Page added Apr-16-99
Last updated January 2006

What cost Jim Silberman $1,000 to ship to New York from Woody Creek and $44,000 to insure? Click on the pictures and you'll see, it was the giant bulletin board for Polo is my Life, still unpublished, from SMART. Will the book resemble the two halves below? Hmmm...according to Contemporary Authors, there was a 1992 listing for an untitled novel published by David McKay. As gonzo fans might cruelly note, this was the same publisher listed when Polo was listed on barnesandnoble.com. Fooey on them. If these pictures are right, then gonzo fans have read a great deal of Polo all ready. On the left hand pic, one of the piles of paper hanging down is called "Strange Ride to Reno" This was part of the 80s section in Songs of the Doomed. Then there is the part about Avery. Not to mention what was published in RS 697.

Interestingly enough, also on the left hand scan, is a picture of a leaping panther. This was allegedly the tattoo that Maria Kahn got in Generation of Swine. Alas, these scans shed little light on Polo or what it is really about...I wonder where the board is now (read below).


Left hand scan
Right hand scan


What you are looking at is the outline for Thompson's next book [sic], Polo is My Life. It was put together in forty-eight hours by Thompson and his friend David McCumber, the executive editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, who flew to Aspen on a Saturday to help with what he calls "context."

Because of teh recent troubles in Woody Creek, Thompson was behind schedule and needed something to show his editor, Summit Books president and editor in chief James H. Silberman, whom he was planning to meet in New York on Wednesday. The weekend became what McCumber called "the Road of Bones," but it resulted in a piece of work Thompson calls "low-tech but effective."

The newspaper clippings document the Thompson-Watkins feud*, and the photographs are all from Thompson's personal collection, as are the ammunition belts and antique two-man logging saw. Because the death of John F. Kennedy figures in the novel's plot, an official White House portrait is in the upper right hand corner, obscured by a brass coat hook. Upper left is a photo of "Jilly" from The Aspen Wall Poster, a broadside newspaper produced by Thompson and artist Tom Benton in Aspen in the early seventies. In the center is a photograph of one of Thompson's old Jeeps at the moment that he and his rancher neighbor George Stranahan blew it up. Along the bottom are more than three hundred pages of text sealed in gallon sized Ziploc bags. At one point Thompson considered hanging his Walter PPK in the middle of the board, but he decided it would be too much.

Labeled "Rush This End Up Do Not Top Load" and insured for $44,000, the package was airfreighted to Silberman's office in New York at a cost of $1,000, with Thompson following the next day for the meeting, that both he and Silberman decided was "successful." Upon Thompson's return to Woody Creek, the outline was installed in SMART's conference room. Bert Babcock, a rare-book dealer consulted by the magazine valued it at between $5,000 and $7,500. Thompson thinks it's worth more and will accept bids.

* The feud is also recounted in Hunter by E. Jean Carroll.