I suspect that if left to my own devices I’d read P.G.Wodehouse books and very little else but, every so often I make an effort to read something that’s outside my reading comfort zone. I also think it’s important to read books that are favourites of my loved ones. So after about a year of The Boy telling me that he loved The Rum Diary, I gave in and read it.
Now, I didn’t have high expectations for this one. I have never managed to stay awake through watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and I did think that Thompson is perhaps more of a man’s writer. Sure enough, there’s a lot of drinking in the book. I mean really heavy drinking, maybe even more than in Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. There’s not much of a plot to speak of but there are some fairly ridiculous and funny situations that the characters find themselves into, mostly because they are drunk.
However, every so often there are some devastatingly beautiful paragraphs. I can only imagine what Thompson would create if he drank a little bit less. Then again, maybe it’s all the drinking and the drunk misadventures that led to those incredibly cynical and sarcastic and insightful paragraphs that I loved. So I have to admit that The Rum Diary was actually brilliant and I should probably read some more of Thompson’s works.
The last sentence is pretty great:
“Sounds of a San Juan night, drifting across the city through layers of humid air; sounds of life and movement, people getting ready and people giving up, the sound of hope and the sound of hanging on, and behind the all, the quiet, deadly ticking of a thousand hungry clocks, the lonely sound of time passing in the long Caribbean night.”