Respecting Gonzo

Posted: January 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

“A word to the wise is infuriating” – Hunter S. Thompson

There is a scourge on this earth, and it leaves a trail of blasphemous adaptations in its wake: it calls itself Hollywood.  The industrialized machine that is American filmmaking is out of ideas, and has decided, in crisis, to look to the master story tellers for guidance.  They are digging old books out of their sacred resting places and burning their carcasses in effigy.

Point in case… Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary. There should be a high counsel of Thompson fans charged with the task of making sure nothing like this ever happens again.  They will arm themselves with mescaline and a fiery hatred of Ronald Reagan, and fight the good fight, doing whatever it takes to stop those Hollywood sickos.

The Rum Diary, the story of a journalist who, in the 1950’s, travels from New York to work for The Daily News in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was Thompson’s second novel, though it remained unpublished until 1998 (Prince Jellyfish, his first, is still unpublished).  It is fast-paced like a racehorse on blow, and violently sexy, like Nancy Spungen’s smeared lipstick.  It is a glimpse into Thompson as ingénue, his alcohol lust, his attitudes toward women, and the life-giving qualities he found in putting a pen to paper.  The Rum Diary was a treat for fans, its film adaptation was not… with ubiquitously fuckable lead Actress, ubiquitously quirky lead actor, plot lines we’ve seen so many times before the ‘zigs’ and ‘zags’ could be guessed with surprising accuracy, it left me annoyed and uninspired. 

Please, Hollywood, hear my plea. Even Gary Oldman couldn’t save The Scarlet Letter (1995), and the films I, Robot (2004) and Bicentennial Man (1999) would be a double feature to devastate any Asimov fan. And it hurts a book nerd’s heart to remember the infamously terrible production of The Bonfire of the Vanities. Enough is enough.

Article was written by Guest blogger Mary Heydron. For more articles regarding literature and libations find her blog ‘Wordbrew’ at


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