Last night, we rented The Rum Diary, the recent movie based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel about a writer who goes to work for a newspaper in Puerto Rico. Rum Diary is one of the few Thompson pieces I haven’t read. It was one of his earlier works and went unpublished for a long time. It wasn’t released until 1998, years after he had become famous for his journalism in the 1960s and 1970s.

When I was gobbling up Thompson books — Shark Hunt, Fear and Loathing, Curse of Lono, Songs of the Doomed — in college and shortly after, I had heard of Rum Diary, but it wasn’t on the shelves. I did stumble across a chapter or two in one of Thompson’s later compilation books.It lacks the twisted strangeness of his cornerstone gonzo writings, but you can see some of his trademark themes — heavy drinking, the tortured novelist, a doomed crusade for justice and odd colleagues who drag the characters down a spiral that can only culminate in violence.

For me, the movie was a nice epilogue to my Thompson experience. It was a softer, more coherent, piece. And it’s nice to think of him riding off into the sunset on a stolen sailboat.

I can’t wait to read the book.

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