“… There were no girls in the bar — only middle-aged women and bald men in dinner jackets. I was shaking. Jesus, I thought, maybe I’m getting the DTs. I drank as fast as I could, trying to get drunk. More and more people seemed to be staring at me. But I couldn’t speak. I felt lonely and exposed. I stumbled out o the street and flagged a cab. I was too crazed to check into a hotel. There was no place to go but that filthy roach-infested apartment. It was the only home I had.
“I turned on the lights and opened the windows, then I made a large drink and stretched out on the cot to read my magazine. There was a faint breeze, but the noise from the street was so terrible that I gave up trying to read and turned out the lights. People kept passing on the sidewalk and looking in, and now that they couldn’t see me I expected looters to come crawling through the window at any moment. I lay back on the cot with a bottle of rum resting on my navel and plotted how to defend myself. …
“Jesus, I thought, I’m doomed. I’ll never get out of here alive.
“I thought I saw things moving on the ceiling and voices in the alley were calling my name. I began to tremble and sweat, and then I fell into a twisted delirium. …”
— Hunter S. Thompson, “The Rum Diary”
The film version of the late journalist’s first novel debuts this month. There’s likely not a moment I’ve waited for more in the world of cinema since I first heard the book was going to be made into a movie almost a decade ago.
“The Rum Diary” served as my introduction to all that is Hunter S. Thompson. Passed to me off-handedly by a fellow backpacker on the coast of Spain, I plowed through the book over the course of a few days and a couple bottles of wine. I’ve since consumed volumes of letters and anything else I can get my hands on by him.
Fitting, I suppose, or perhaps just coincidental that I now reside on an island as HST did in Puerto Rico where he racked up the life experiences he’d later use to pen the piece.
No doubt the film, despite Johnny Depp’s return to portray the great doctor, will only disappoint when compared to the book. But it’ll still be a wild ride to see the story come alive on the silver screen.