Monday, July 15, 2013

Hunter S. Thompson - The Rum Diary, A Review

In old Puerto Rico. . .a journalist came to write

Cover, The Rum Diary, by Hunter.S. Thompson

Paul Kemp, the main character of this novel, arrives in Puerto Rico to claim a job with a local English newspaper. This is a time when men hustled to get in on the booming travel trade in Puerto Rico. The Yanqui presence is becoming a nuisance. Expatriates sit and wait in the bars, and tourists in the hotels pretend they are somewhere more exotic.  Locals are just starting to recognize labor unions and most of the local police are unreliable.

Kemp spends part of his time at the local beer and burger bar, a gathering place for the more eccentric of the journalists. He needs to work. The main setting for the story is the newspaper office, where most of the writers are 'on the edge', erratic, and unpredictable. It's no wonder, as the newspaper resembles a sinking ship.

This is very much the masculine tale related by a sharp mind. Excessive drinking is a daily occurrence in this story, and women are treated as an aside, in minor roles. A couple of intimate scenes do show up in the novel, but are written with a heavy-handed approach consistent with the times. Thompson is better at the hard-hitting manly stuff.

American literature includes many who don't fit the established mold, but yet they manage to make a ripple in the publishing world. Thompson ruffled some and annoyed others, but he amused a lot of his readers.


Hunter S. Thompson, in his twenties when he wrote The Rum Diary, was an author who changed our perception of everyday life and politics in the USA. His publisher was Simon and Schuster. Thompson wrote for several newspapers in his early days and began writing fiction in the mid-1960s. Gonzo journalism was his specialty.

'Gonzo' reporting is a style of journalism that doesn't claim to be strictly objective, but rather is a more personal/subjective viewpoint, often written in first person. Use of sarcasm, wit, and irreverent attitudes is encouraged.

Thompson is best known for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...a look at the failure of the 60s counterculture movement from his viewpoint. The story was serialized in Rolling Stone (magazine) and released as a film in 1998 with Johnny Depp as Thompson. Depp shadowed Thompson to study his mannerisms and speech patterns, the details that made the man.

The author died from a gunshot wound to the head, February 20, 2005, in Woody Creek, Colorado at his private compound. He was suffering at the time from several medical conditions, and adjusting to a hip replacement. RIP, Hunter S. Thompson.


Have you read any writing by this controversial author? Have you heard of Thompson and his Gonzo journalism style? Did you know Hunter wrote for the Rolling Stone magazine? Or that the Doonesbury cartoon strip called him 'Raoul or Uncle Duke' in its character depiction of the man?

Please share in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!


References: The author The Rum Diary wiki Gonzo journalism The J. Depp movie About the character

Monday, July 1, 2013

PARIS - The 'Little Details'

A Carousel in the City

When traveling in your home country or abroad, notice the little things, the fine touches, the attention to craft. Little details enhance an object and help us retain that memory, but only if we notice it. Craft excellence can be seen in objects as well as in writing. Learn to observe the world around you.

A Les Halles Carousel Closeup, Paris, by DG Hudson

Carousels and merry-go-rounds are good examples of decorative details that embellish the whole object. Some carousels in France have two levels, others are smaller with one level. Both styles are lush with embellishments. Bright colors, lots of lights and music are part of the packaging. We saw two, one near Les Halles, and one at the bottom end of the Trocadero Fountains.


Paris Cobblestones (Street detail)

When older buildings, like the Bastille, were dismantled, the bricks were recovered and used for paving the streets. The bricks shown in the photo below are laid with an overlapping curved pattern. Cobblestones differ in size. Those bricks shown below are smaller than the square cobblestones in Pere Lachaise Cemetery. We walked up a few of the cobblestone streets and entranceways in Montmartre, the Marais, and at Versailles.

Cobblestones in Paris, Fr. by DG Hudson


Fontaines de la Concorde

The detailed fountain shown below is a popular photo opportunity location in Paris. Small and large spouts of water encircle the fountain, and the statues are embellished with gilding.  Remember the old movies of the past with shots of the fountains of Paris? This is another one of those meeting spots where people like to congregate and get their bearings, and it's a cooling spot when the weather's hot.

Fontaines de la Concorde, Paris Fr., by DG Hudson


The Dome

Observing the dome rising behind the arched entrance in the photo below, I was reminded of Victorian styling and attention to detail, much of which is incorporated in 'steampunk' design. Can you imagine the view from that round window, and what about the room behind the window? This building is situated behind the 'walking' statue of General Charles de Gaulle on one of the main thoroughfares in Paris.

Detail of Dome and Arch on Building, by DG Hudson


Our Lady of Paris, Notre Dame de Paris

The delicacy of detail in the architecture of Notre Dame is something to behold. Considering when it was built, the feat is impressive.

Notre Dame Cathedral Detail, Front, by DG Hudson

Our Lady of Paris, Notre Dame, has endless details and embellishments in its Gothic arches and sculptures. I didn't climb the 400 stairs inside the church, the lineup was a long and winding road. Next time, perhaps. I can't help thinking of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, who peered between these stone decorations to watch the people below.

Details make the difference in how we remember a place. In our writing, we can inject that information to bring the reader closer to the scene or location being described.
Record those descriptions on location by whatever method suits you. I keep a travel journal, with notes, sketches and observations for further research on my return.


Note: the excessive use of a certain word is intentional to make a point.

Any cobblestone streets in your city or town? Buildings with ornate or steampunk/Victorian designs?
Can you name one item with 'little details' that you recall from any travels? Why do you remember it?
Please share in the comments and thanks for stopping by!



Want more information and photos on Paris? Check the Paris Posts or the Paris, Etc tabs at the top of the page. Fountains in Paris more info on carousels Notre Dame in Paris