Picks and Pans Review: Kingdom of Fear

updated 02/10/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/10/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Hunter S. Thompson

Writers should use fun words, but getting them in the right order is just as important. Dr. Gonzo's sort-of memoir, a blurry hash of unlikely adventures usually involving shooting, shouting, and getting naked, drunk or arrested, is essentially Jackass with a thesaurus. Some episodes are funny (Thompson leaves a bleeding elk heart on his pal Jack Nicholson's doorstep while blasting a tape of "a pig being eaten alive by bears"), and Thompson's style still gleams darkly: "Things are no longer what they seem to be. My telephones are haunted, and animals whisper at me from unseen places." But the plausible tales are familiar, the made-up ones are just silly, and Thompson's politics may seem a tad facile to those who don't believe President Bush is a Nazi. Much of this is just bull in search of a china shop. Thompson could have been Tom Wolfe, but he settled for tomfoolery. (Simon and Schuster, $25)

BOTTOM LINE: Old dog, old tricks

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