In 2005, American writer and founding gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) committed suicide. Shortly thereafter, I somewhat belatedly discovered his work and bought everything of his I could find in print, including the first two volumes of his collected correspondence, which together covered his life and career from 1955 to 1976.
A third volume, The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop, 1977-2005, appeared for preorder on Amazon a while after his death, complete with sample cover art that was in the same style as that featured on the first two volumes and a street date sometime in the summer of 2008. I placed a preorder for it sometime, if memory serves, in early 2007.
Ever after, every six months or so, I would get a polite email from Amazon informing me that the release date of The Mutineer had been delayed by about another six months. It became a very slow metronomic ticking, a little recurrent prickle of first disappointment, then annoyance, and finally a sort of tragicomic, headshake-with-a-grim-smile resignation.
Today, I received the following:
Due to a lack of availability, we will not be able to obtain the following item(s) from your order:
Hunter S. Thompson "The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop 1977-2005"
We've canceled the item(s) and apologize for the inconvenience. We must also apologize for the length of time it has taken us to reach this conclusion.
If you are still interested in purchasing this item, it may be available from other sellers.
It's depressing, but at the same time darkly funny. Particularly that last part. It is, in fact, not available from "other sellers", because insofar as I am able to determine, and despite the fact that it has what appears to be a perfectly legitimate ISBN and therefore appears in such places as HST's bibliography page on Wikipedia, it does not exist - has never existed. I fear it is destined to become one of those friend-of-a-friend items that turn up now and then in American popular culture. Remember the "Gloria Baker and Shark" M.A.S.K. toy? Of course you don't, Kenner never made it, but we all knew that one guy who swore he had a cousin in some other town who knew somebody who had one. :)