“The Rum Diary shows a side of human nature that is ugly and wrong. But it is a world that Hunter Thompson knows in the nerves of his neck. This is a brilliant tribal study and a bone in the throat of all decent people.”
— jimmy buffett
He jerked the car into gear and we roared off. “Jesus!” he muttered. “These people are too much! I’ve got to get out of here before they kill me.”
He was trembling and I offered to drive. He ignored me. “Man, I’m serious,” he said. “I’ve got to get away — my luck’s running out.”
He had said the same thing before and I think he believed it. He was forever talkng about luck, but what he really meant was a very ordered kind of fate. He had a strong sense of it — a belief that large and uncontrollable things were working both for and against him, things that were moving and happening every minute all over the world. The rise of communism worried him because it meant that people were going blind to his sensitivity as a human being. The troubles of the Jews depressed him because it meant that people needed scapegoats and sooner or later he would be one of them. Other things bothered him constantly: the brutality of capitalism because his talents were being exploited, the moronic vulgarity of American tourists because it gave him a bad reputation, the careless stupidity of Puerto Ricans (thompson’s words, not mine) because they were forever making his life dangerous and difficult, and even, for some reason I never understood, the hundreds of stray dogs that he saw in San Juan.
Not much of what he said was original. What made him unique was the fact that he had no sense of detachment at all. He was like the fanatical football fan who runs onto the field and tackles a player. He saw life as the Big Game, and the whole of mankind was divided into two teams — Sala’s Boys, and The Others. The stakes were fantastic and every play was vital — and although he watched with nearly obsessive interest, he was very much the fan, shouting unheard advice in a crowd of unheard advisors and knowing all the while that nobody was paying attention to him because he was not running the team and never would be. And like all fans he was frustrated by the knowledge that the best he could do, even in a pinch, would be to run onto the field and cause some kind of illegal trouble, then be hauled off by guards while the crowd laughed.
— exerpt from chapter three,
the rum diary, hunter s thompson.
When we got back to the office I thought about what he’d said, and I began to think that Sala might be right. He talked about luck and fate and numbers coming up, yet he never ventured a nickel at the casinos because he knew the house had all the percentages. And beneath his pessimism, his bleak conviction that all the machinery was rigged against him, at the bottom of his soul was a faith that he was going to outwit it, that by carefully watching the signs he was going to know when to dodge and be spared. It was fatalism with a loophole, and all you had to do to make it work was never miss a sign. Survival by coordination, as it were. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who can see it coming and jump aside. Like a frog evading a shillelagh in a midnight marsh.
So, with this theory firmly in mind, I went to see Sanderson that night, meaning to leap from the bog of threatened unemployment to the high-dry branch of fat assignments. It was the only branch I could see within a thousand miles, and if I missed it, it meant a long haul to a new foothold, and I didn’t have the faintest idea where it would be.
He greeted me with a fifty-dollar check, which I saw as a good omen. “For that article,” he explained. “Come on out to the porch, we’ll get you a drink.”
“Drink, hell,” I said. “I’m looking for unemployment insurance.”
He laughed. “I might have known — especially after today.”
We stopped in the kitchen to get some ice. “Of course you knew Segarra was going to quit,” I said.
“Of course,” he replied.
“Jesus,” I muttered. “Tell me, Hal — just what does the future hold for me? Am I going to get rich, or go to the dogs?”
He laughed and started for the porch, where I could hear other voices. “Don’t worry,” he said over his shoulder. “Come on out where it’s cool.”
–exerpt from chapter sixteen,
the rum diary, hunter s thompson