Friday, 30 July 2010

A rum read

The Rum Diary by Hunter S Thompson

Blame Johnny Depp. I had never read any Hunter S Thompson previously, but after noting that Depp has several films coming up for release this year, and one of them is a film version of The Rum Diary, I hunted a bit.

I read about Thompson a little and 'gonzo'; and I read that Depp was a friend who had arranged much of Thompson's funeral, complete with its cannon to shoot his ashes in the air.

My curiosity was suitably piqued.

Paul Kemp is a journalist who moves from New York to Puerto Rico in the late 1950s, to work on The Daily News.

But on arriving in San Juan, Kemp finds that the publication is on the verge of folding, and he is drawn into the alcoholic and violent world of the itinerant journalists whose livelihoods appear to be clinging by a thread.

This is a really fast-paced novel. Yes, it's violent and full of a sort of machismo that isn't particularly to like – but then again, I doubt that was Thompson's aim – but it has an exhilarating, raw, piratical quality that pulls you in and through. This is about life outside the confines of convention – not limited by the sort of games that Kemp sees and dislikes.

But even though Thompson was only 22 when he wrote the novel, it's also about aging and the fear of that – of getting to a point where all you want is to 'settle down'; where you're past wanting to take risks and reap their rewards or dangers.

The film is going to be interesting.

So blame Johnny.

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