Reading Hunter S. Thompson's "The Rum Diary" makes one crave for a drink in the middle of the night or even in the early hours of the morning. (I have to ransack the kitchen for a bottle of something at past 12 midnight while I was reading the last four chapters.)
For people, journalists especially, who haven't had the pleasure of losing a job, going freelance and getting drunk and scared as shit in some backward town (with a name like Josefina, Sapang Dalaga or Sumisip), the book is a must read.
The "Diary" also reminds me of those sleepless nights (and days) along Timog Avenue in the late Eighties when I drink with freelance photographers and would-be poets until seven o'clock in the morning in a hole-in-the-wall place beside an animal clinic that sells chicken innards and barbecue.
Thompson's novel, his first, is as timely as when it was first published in the middle of the last century in a country like the Philippines and at a time of this so-called economic recession, when hope is rare and bullshit is all over.
Thanks to Karl for the book, a gift during the holidays and a pleasant reminder that life can change for the better or for the worst and is as swift as a swig of cheap rum after midnight when one just wants to rush home to take advantage of the high of alcohol while dreaming.
The "Diary" is a must read for a people that needs reminding that living, through the ups and downs, the short-cuts and the long-cuts included, can be enjoyed with or without a bottle of rum, or beer for that matter in this country.
Kemp, Sala, Yeamon, Segarra, Lotterman, and the rest of the gang remind us of the good, the bad and the assholes of this world, especially in the media industry. Those in media who can still read will find themselves and their colleagues in this "crackling, twisted, searing" book.
When Karl gave me this book last December he asked me to blog about it after reading. Here it is my friend. I am taking up the challenge with all gratitude for the friendship and for your silent assurance that Chenault will be waiting for me in New York with her love and "few surprises."
Thanks for the support.
I am writing this for you Karl at two o'clock in the morning as the sounds of the city drift "through layers of humid air; sounds of life and movement, people getting ready and giving up, the sound of hope and the sound of hanging on, and behind them all, the quiet, deadly ticking of a thousand hungry clocks, the lonely sound of time passing...."