Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness
by Hunter S. Thompson
(Simon & Schuster)

Hunter S. Thompson's Hey Rube is first rate-bathroom reading for the sporting intellectual who remains as loyal to the (name of NFL franchise here _______) as he is to the waning cult of the Grand Puba of gonzo journalism. However, to enjoy Hey Rube it doesn't hurt if you're a rambler, a gambler, or just inordinately fond of the words "whore," "orgy," and "fleeced."

After Thompson's memoir Kingdom of Fear came out last year, more than one critic noted how the author had become a parody of his former self. Not unlike the last decade of Woody Allen atrocities, Thompson was plagiarizing from his own canon and doing the same thing that made him famous 30 years ago, which is blending invective and observation with personal digressions. An assemblage of three years of his ESPN.com column, Hey Rube doesn't disprove the claims that he's devolved into schtick.

"All medicines are deadly and dangerous, if taken repeatedly in large doses," writes Thompson. "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 prognostics on the last three years of professional and college sports. Should you have a Rain Man-esque recall on such things; you'll enjoy this a lot more than those of us with more important factoids to commit to memory (like soup recipes!).

That said, some of the digressions are often irresistible. How do you read the following and not want more?

"Hot damn, it is Halloween again, and I am ready to get weird in public."

Now in his sixth year of AARP eligibility, one wonders how publicly weird this recluse is capable of getting. But the paranoia and spewing of venom at all relevant establishments is all here. As is the sense that if Thompson wasn't such an established literary brand, his ramblings would enjoy no more notoriety than a basement-dwelling blogger.