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The Rum Diary

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"Now all of this may look like some crazed hallucination," Johnny Depp, as Hunter S. Thompson stand-in Paul Kemp, says, "but it's all true... I think."

And so it goes in this long-awaited big screen version of "The Rum Diary," Depp's latest film adaptation of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. The film, which sat on the shelf for a while, has a roundabout history that, in a very minor way, resembles that of the book; the semi-fictional story about Thompson's time in Puerto Rico as a young journalist began being written in 1958, but went unpublished until 1998.

Depp, as Kemp, plays an alcoholic journalist who starts kicking around San Juan, Puerto Rico, writing for a failing local paper and taking LSD. It was a fearful, doomsday description of what Thompson worried he may become in the early stages of his career, though, obviously, his real life success far exceeded that of his nervous projection.

About The Rum Diary movie:

The film stars Johnny DeppAmber Heard, Aaron EckhartGiovanni Ribisi and

Richard Jenkins , and hits theaters October 28th.

About the Book:

the rum diary - book

The Rum Diary

Hunter S. Thompson...

review by Jon Konrath "John"(San Francisco, CA)

Diary: A Novel (Paperback)
This is the "lost novel" by Hunter S. Thompson, a book that he started writing in 1959 to make a quick buck. He struggled all through the sixties to get this thing rewritten and published, but because of its quality and Thompson's legendary shakedowns with agents, publishers, and contracts, it died on the vine - until a few years ago. This quasi-fictional account of a New York reporter drifting into a job at the San Juan Daily News is somewhat based on Thompson's experience on the Carribean island in the late 1950. Trying to put Puerto Rico on the literary map like Hemingway did for Paris, he spells out a story of corruption, boredom, and alcohol in a more simple San Juan, before the big booms of the travel booms and technology of the sixties. Paul Kemp, the fictional narrator, describes the coworkers, women, natives, and insane government, riddled with syndicates and kickbacks. The writing here isn't like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - it's more of the Orwell/Mailer/Miller genre, and does a good job of painting memorable scenes of the insanity, camaraderie, poverty, and drunkenness on top of the tropical backdrop. It's not bad stuff, and I wonder if it recently went through heavy rewrites, or if there just wasn't a market for it back in the sixties. Either way, it's a light, fast read at just over 200 pages, and made me wonder if Thompson's other unpublished work would be as satisfying in a trade hardcover. Maybe someday?

 

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