Woody Creek books flying onto the shelves | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creek books flying onto the shelves

Gaylord Guenin

It is a bit difficult to figure out but for some reason it seems as if Woody Creek is experiencing some sort of literary Renaissance. Could global warming have something to do with it? Or maybe it is all connected to UFOs, which are back in the news again. No matter the cause, Woody Creekers have been unusually productive of late.

During the past few months a total of three books by Woody Creekers have appeared on the market and a fourth will become available Feb. 5, the long-awaited “The Kitchen Readings, Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson.” Written by artist Michael Cleverly (who likes to think of himself as a pornographer) and Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, both longtime friends of the late Thompson, it is a 274-page collection of anecdotal stories from many of Hunter’s old friends as well as detailed memories from Cleverly and Braudis. A book-signing is scheduled to be held at Explorer Booksellers on Feb. 5.

I must be honest and admit I have read only a small portion of the book but was impressed by what I did read. If you knew Hunter, and there are few of us in Woody Creek who didn’t, you probably won’t be shocked by anything you read. If you didn’t know Hunter, well you may experience a touch of shock here and there but there is a richness to these tales that lends a sense of authenticity to them. It seems as if everyone has a Hunter story and it is difficult to determine which are true and which are apocryphal. Michael and Braudis were able, I suspect, to disregard questionable stories because both men were well-acquainted with most of the storytellers. It is obvious that a tremendous amount of research went into all this.

One aside to the book for me was to run into so many characters from the 1970s, individuals I had known but somehow relegated to the backwaters of my memories as time went by and we all went in different directions. I met Hunter in 1969 when I was editor of the Aspen Illustrated News and a regular in the J-Bar, which was quite easy to accomplish because our offices were in the basement of the Hotel Jerome. I met hundreds of people there, including Cleverly and Braudis, but it was Hunter who intimidated me. It wasn’t until I went to work at the Woody Creek Tavern and became his neighbor that I began to understand there was much more to him than I had ever seen or experienced.

My suspicion is that readers of “The Kitchen Readings” will understand just how complex a man Hunter really was. The word complex only touches the unfathomable depths of Hunter, yet it appears Braudis and Cleverly (who also writes a column for the Aspen Times Weekly) have come close to achieving that.

And a few months ago Hunter’s widow, Anita Thompson, published “The Gonzo Way.” She is a Woody Creeker and a neighbor and obviously a very insightful individual. In her preface to the book, she writes, “If you are one of those who loved the Hunter S. Thompson Show for its decadence, its crazy debauchery on every level, mixed with Wild Turkey, Dunhills and multitudes of uppers and downers and screamers and laughers and high-speed car rides with the top down hovering on the edge for the adrenaline rush, and if you are one of those people who assume those sorts of things alone will enable you to live the Gonzo Way, this book is not for you.”

This is an excellent and informative read and one that will give you a new and possibly a surprising perspective on Hunter S. Thompson, a man who was truly larger than life.

Outside of the Hunter genre, George Stranahan and I added another book to the Woody Creek stock in January, “It’s Not All of Fishing to Fish.” That title is the motto of the Flyfishers’ Club, England: “Piscator non solum Piscatur. It is not all of fishing to fish.”

It is something of a coffee-table book, very little verbiage but an abundance of beautiful photos by Stranahan. The photos are of fishing equipment I accumulated over the years, mostly from members of my family, anglers all. The photos are accompanied by quotes from various books on angling, also accumulated over the years. For me, this is a personal time machine, one that evokes distant but pleasant angling memories. It should do the same for any serious angler.

Another Woody Creek connection to our little literary adventure is the fact that “It Is Not All of Fishing to Fish” was published by People’s Press, which is located right here in Woody Creek.

And Stranahan has a second book recently published: “George Stranahan, Pilgrim and Photographer,” a collection of some amazing black- and-white photos, another product of People’s Press.

If you haven’t had your fill of book talk yet, we have more. Ann Owsley, manager of the Woody Creek Community Center, told me last week that the center plans to open a secondhand bookstore.

The Center (WC3) already has an extensive book exchange, where you can bring a book and take a book, but the new operation will actually sell used books. Ann is still working on the details but it should be a welcome addition to Woody Creek.

Who knows, but somewhere in Woody Creek someone may be working on a new book right now.

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