Sunday, July 04, 2010

Yes, But Why is the Rum Gone?

"In the early Fifties, when San Juan first became a tourist town, an ex-jockey named Al Arbonito built a bar in the patio behind his house on Calle O'Leary."

So begins one of the greatest novels by one of the world's greatest authors ever.  I recently just finished reading Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary again, and my god what a fucking great book.  The man was a genius, no two ways about it.  I believe that like many people from my generation my first forray into the Hunter catalogue began with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas due in large part to Terry Gilliam's brilliant movie adaptation.  It wasn't until some time after Thompson's suicide way back in 2005 that I actually started reading his work though.  A friend of mine, let's call him Joe, was into Thompson since at least high school and he kept bugging me to read his work, but I wasn't sold.  And when news of his death hit, I didn't really get the big deal.  Now one of my regrets is that I didn't get to mourn Hunter S. Thompson at the time of his death and instead learned of his cultural significance and narrative genius until much later.

After pollishing off Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas my friend Joe recommended The Rum Diary and from the first moment I was drawn in.  I couldn't put it down the first or any subsequent readthrough.  Thompson had stated that he was influenced by Ernest Hemingway and nowhere is it more evident to me than in The Rum Diary.  It's a funny thing though because as much as a love Thompson I hate Hemingway.  I could never stomache any of Hemingway's bullshit minimalist writing.  The only thing he ever wrote that I could get any enjoyment out of was A Moveable Feast.  Check it out some time.  I dare you.  This is one instance when the son has definitely outdone the father, and I really don't know why Thompson's works aren't compulsary reading in high school.

Anyhow to get back on track, for those of you not in the know there is currently a movie based on The Rum Diary in post-production starring Johnny Depp in the lead role of of "vagrant journalist" Paul Kemp, a writer at a small newspaper on the verge of collapse in San Juan.  I believe Depp is also producing the movie as he has a vested interest in maintaining the integrity of the source material after befriending Thompson during his work on the Fear and Loathing film.  As a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson's work I am totally stoked to see this movie getting made and I really hope they don't completely fuck it up.  It's bad enough to see terrible movie adaptations of books (of which there are many), but it's just extra painful when they mess up something you love. 

There are some who would argue that Thompson's subject matter might be outdated and his relevence outdated, but in my opinion that couldn't be further from the truth. The themes that permeated Thompson's work I believe are still as applicable to my generation as they were to his and there was more "truth" in his Gonzo journalism that anything in the popular media. Even above and beyond all that Thompson proved that writers ,just like those in the movie and music industries, could attain celebrity status both for their proffesional talents as well as their real-life exploits (ie. drug use).

I guess there was really no point to this article other than to profess my admiration for Hunter S. Thompson and to let you guys know so that you can keep track of this shit and catch this beast when it hits theatres.  It will also be nice to see a movie adaptation that's based on some quality material and not some stupid shit about vampires or wizards for a change, but god knows we can always use more of them too.  (Yeah, that last part was sarcasm.  I just have to spell it out in case any Twilight fans actually read this because they're either A) Thirteen years old or B) Lacking in mental capacity due to generations of inbreeding.)


Post a Comment