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MONDO GONZO

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After Hunter S. Thompson's memoir (Kingdom of Fear) came out last year, more than one critic noted that the author had become a parody of his former self. Not unlike Woody Allen and his 10-year streak of atrocities, HST was plagiarizing from his own canon, doing the same thing that made him famous 30 years ago: blending invective and observation with personal digressions.

An assemblage of three years of his ESPN.com column, Hey Rube doesn't disprove claims that he's devolved into shtick. The title is a carny term for suckers, the ubiquity of which, Thompson claims, unleashes a febrile response in a gambler. But woe to the fleecer who doesn't know when to say when.

"All medicines are deadly and dangerous, if taken repeatedly in large doses. A pound of pure aspirin will kill a whole busload of young athletes. A craving for French-fried potatoes can make you swell up and stink like the rotting corpse of a whale."

Such a stench won't be lost on those who attempt to read Hey Rube in prolonged sittings. Be warned, it's like eating a wasabi dinner. That's because an unhealthy amount of text is devoted to diagnoses of the last three years of professional and college sports. Should you have a Rain Man-esque recall of such things, you'll enjoy this a lot more than those of us with more important factoids to commit to memory.

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