Writers traditionally bemoan how the movie industry fails to appreciate them. Yet, there are more films about writers than there is demand from the paying public for motion pictures about individuals whose jobs involve sitting still and, every so often, scratching themselves. For instance, this week brought Anonymous, in which we learn that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare, and next week imports Young Goethe in Love.
Hunter S. Thompson isn’t in quite the same league as Shakespeare and Goethe, but he did write one epochally hilarious book. The Rum Diary—a quasi-autobiographical novel about Thompson’s 1960 misadventures as the astrology and bowling correspondent for an English-language newspaper in Puerto Rico—isn’t, unfortunately, it.
Johnny Depp, who stars as the 23-year-old Thompson, claims to have discovered The Rum Diary‘s moldering manuscript at Thompson’s fortified compound outside Aspen while prepping for the 1998 adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and then talked the reluctant author into allowing publication. Depp’s implication that Thompson—who loved spending money on firearms, drugs, motorcycles, room service, explosives, knives, valet parking, and vicious animals—had passed up getting paid for his juvenilia out of aesthetic modesty doesn’t jibe well with his long decline in which he sold every thought that flitted across his short-circuited brain. Among major American writers, Thompson was rivaled only by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, and Tom Wolfe as a flaming materialist.
Read the whole thing there.