The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary

The Long Lost Novel

Book - 1998
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The Rum Diary was begun in 1959 by then-twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson. It was his first novel, and he told his friend, the author William Kennedy, that The Rum Diary would "in a twisted for San Juan what Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises did for Paris." In Paul Kemp, the novel's hero, there are echoes of the young Thompson, who was himself honing his wildly musical writing style as one of the "ill-tempered wandering rabble" on staff at the San Juan Daily News at the time. "I shared a dark suspicion," Kemp says, "that the life we were leading was a lost cause, we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles -- a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other -- that kept me going." The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery & violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s. "It was a gold rush," says the author. "There were naked people everywhere and we all had credit." Puerto Rico was an unspoiled tropical paradise in those years -- before Castro, before JFK, before civil rights & moonwalks & flower power & Vietnam & protests & even before drugs -- but the San Juan Daily News was a vortex & a snakepit of all the corrupt new schemes & plots & greedmongers who swarmed in. Paul Kemp, The Rum Diary's narrator, speaks for the unfocused angst of those times: "In a sense I was one of them -- more competent than some and more stable than others -- and in the years that carried that ragged banner I was seldom unemployed. Sometimes I worked for three newspapers at once. I wrote ad copy for new casinos and bowling alleys, I was a consultant for the cockfighting syndicate, an utterly corrupt high-end restaurant critic, a yachting photographer and a routine victim of police brutality. It was a greedy life and I was good at it. I made some interesting friends, had enough money to get around, and learned a lot about the world that I could never have learned in any other way."
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c1998.
ISBN: 9780684855219
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 204 p. : map ; 25 cm.


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Dec 16, 2015

Thompson's sole novel, long thought lost, is a semi-autobiographical, episodic, drink soaked tale of journalist working in 1950's Puerto Rico. The protagonist plunges into bad behavior, heavy drinking, sex, and, only occasionally, work. As with Thompson's non-fiction, the prose is both slightly crazed and lucid, full of acute observations. There's also a melancholy strain that gives it, despite the debauchery, an almost soulful quality. The film version was rather poorly reviewed, but it's not bad. Suggested drink pairing: rum.

Mar 03, 2015

I was not sure what I was expecting when I picked up the book but I was happy with it. The narrative of the story was quite good and it flowed with quite well. Anyone who likes Hunter S. Thompson should give some time for this book.

Apr 19, 2013

This is a book I could see owning. I found myself rereading some of his sentences over and over again just to savor them. This early work shows HST as a thoughtful, self-reflective young man. I thought both this and "Hell's Angels" are a testament to why we should care about his work. A tasty shot of fine narrative craft.

Feb 06, 2013

Well recommended by many. Well written, but not into diaries/biographies right now - save for later.

Jul 08, 2012

This is a good book. I do not know how it compares to the movie, but the book by itself is good. I say read the book first, watch the movie later.

ColinSick Jun 21, 2012

I have read much of what HST has published including his scribblings for Rolling Stone. While it is nice to see emerging writing style that makes HST so enjoyable this one just doesn't take off. Thompson later moved closer to the edgejumping with his characters into the world of Gonzo journalism, To experience HST with his full freak on look elsewhere,

Mar 12, 2012

I wanted to read this book before I saw the movie. And now I want to read more books written by Hunter S. Thompson mainly because I really like his writing style. It was an easy ready though the story was ok.

emerald2pac Dec 05, 2011

Great book hilarious and hard to put down. Crazy ride but enjoyable.

debwalker Aug 29, 2011

Film adaptation of Hunter Thompson's first novel, starring Johnny Depp, will be released October 28.

May 08, 2011

Made me want to drink and write.

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Mar 03, 2015

CivicBear thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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