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Oscar Zeta Acosta The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo

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Best known as mescaline-fried attorney Dr Gonzo from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Oscar 'Zeta' Acosta raged his way through life, only to vanish in Mazatlan, Mexico in 1974.

Prior to inventing his own Gonzo Journalism, Thompson was associated with Tom Wolfe's New Journalism, a movement which also included Truman Capote and Michael Herr. Acosta's approach to subjective journalism, however, was decidedly necro; his lines pared to the bone, his frequent references to vomiting blood due to stomach ulcers affording his prose a visceral edge.

In Fear and Loathing, Thompson allowed himself a moment of sober reflection to mourn the defeat of the sixties counterculture. By contrast, Acosta entertained no such nostalgia or sentimentality, dismissing Ginsberg, Leary and The Beatles with sneering contempt. The self-styled Brown Buffalo wrote more like Charles Bukowski than he did Thompson: "Cables, concrete and congestion, these are the things that matter."

Presented through his own eyes, Acosta bears little resemblance to the Ralph Steadman-sketched caricature found in Fear and Loathing. Rather than the myth, we get the man, with all his fears and insecurities, alongside his thwarted early efforts to become a writer: "It was 1960 and no one had heard of Chicanos in those days [...] so instead I decided to be a lawyer."

Acosta almost certainly perished in Mazatlan in '74, but thanks to Tangerine Press, his writing has come back to us alive, bright red and stinking of the raw tequila vomited straight from his guts.

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