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The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson was allegedly the result of everyone’s favourite ‘quirky’ actor Johnny Depp digging out a forgotten manuscript in his friend Thompson’s archive. It is a novel that otherwise might never have been published but was, and then was reissued as a film tie-in with the same ‘quirky’ actor in the lead.
Depp had apparently told Thompson the book needed to be published (presumably because he needed a new film to appear in) and Thompson subsequently decided that he needed the money. This presents an interesting tension upon opening the book. Should it have been published, or was it best left alone? Thankfully, Thompson does not disappoint.
The Rum Diary is written with that telltale gonzo style with which readers will be familiar. Here the voice is less relentless and the encounters less surreal, but the narrator is still characteristically sharp, witty and irresistible.
Thompson’s familiar paranoia is present, although not quite at the drug-heightened levels of Fear & Loathing, revealing instead a younger author hungry for opportunity. His critique of journalists and PR men is hardly breaking news, but the flair for telling a ripping yarn and the deft strokes with which he brings his characters to life makes this a winner.
Johnny Depp, we thank you!