Begun in 1959 by a twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s. The narrator, freelance journalist Paul Kemp, irresistibly drawn to a sexy, mysterious woman, is soon thrust into a world where corruption and get-rich-quick schemes rule and anything (including murder) is permissible. Exuberant and mad, youthful and energetic, this dazzling comedic romp provides a fictional excursion as riveting and outrageous as Thompson’s Fear and Loathing books.
Topics: Puerto Rico, 1950s, Alcoholism, Jealousy, Writers, Semi-Autobiographical, Drugs, Midlife Crisis, American Author, Male Author, Love, and Gritty
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A ripping little rum-drenched story you will whizz through leaving you feeling cutely hungover. You can see his later writing style being born & nutured.more
late 50's puerto rico depicted by an american journalist/drunk. the story is decadent in a no-future kind of way. a sort of first world angst adopting the feeling of the tropics, the insanity of the tropics, the decadence of the tropics. there is a lot of drinking, the characters are a bit cartoonish, the narrative is great. although the subject might sound not that interesting the narrative carries you through the story. fun read.more
Quite a culture shock reading this book and very difficult to review and tag it as it doesn't really fit into any particular category. Not as funny as the later seminal "Fear and Loathing" but you do get some occasional low-life laughs along the way as a newspaper writer has various experiences during his time on a Puerto Rico newspaper. A book that makes you want to take a shower after reading it and then drink a glass of rum.more
It's an entertaining book, and it's well written enough, but in the end I don't think I'll take anything away from it. The content feels somewhere between Hemingway (who I like) and Bukowski (who I don't.)more
This is the Thompson that few people know. He's basically trying out his wings here, writing what could be a lost novel by Hemingway. In a lot of ways, comparable to the band Rush's early career, when they were basically a Led Zeppelin sound-alike.more
Very good book, reminiscent of "The Sun Also Rises". The only fault of 'The Rum Diary' is that it's too Hemingwayan, which is normal considering Thompson's age at the time of writing (22! At that age most of us are still in college, or barely out). I agree with the reviewers who regret Thompson didn't write other such novels.more
Fiction by the master of gonzo. Thompson paints a vivid picture of Puerto Rico in the late 50s/early 60s that I can relate to the Dominican Republic. Although the DR was in political turmoil at the time the story takes place.I associate the book more with 'Las Vegas' than in the 'campaign trail'. It's hard to tell apart what could actually have happened to him from what he made-up.more
Written before Dr. Gonzo became totally Gonzoized. Nicely developed characters. Great story in and around old San Juan.Good read.more
The Rum Diary is my favourite of all of Thompson’s writings; it also stands at the top as one of my favourite fiction titles ever. What I find so likable about this book is its realism. It tells the very simple story of Paul Kemp, a completely regular guy who wades his way through the problems of a regular life, as he interacts with other regular people, in a tediously regular town--1950s San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now, of course I use the word “regular” in the Hunter S. Thompson sense--which is usually a far cry from “normal.” There are still plenty of interesting aspects to the setting, and to all of the characters in this book.This book is very different from Thompson’s most famous work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While I am sure there are some autobiographical elements to the character of Paul Kemp, Thompson has created a very likable fictitious character who struggles his way through a mundane job at a San Juan newspaper, The Daily News.While some may find it a fault, what I love most about this book is the simple straightforward story of its simple straightforward characters. If only Thompson had written more books like this--and to think, this one came close to never being published! That would have been a shame.more
A must-read for anyone who's sees the boring underbelly of the glamorous expat lifestyle. Having discovered not so long ago that living overseas is no guarantee of a stimulating life, I related to a lot of things in this book -- the seductive ease of believing that you've "done enough" just in moving abroad, living in a foreign country and spending all your time with expats, the initially heady but ultimately dull pleasure of a high income and all the alcohol you can afford to drink, working in a place that seems to attract an equal number of dull and creepy people...I could go on and on. Most importantly, it articulated the thing I've realized only in the last few months: taking on the "adventure" of living in another place is no better guarantee of fulfilling life than full-time office jobs and white picket fences. If you're not thinking carefully about what you want from life and actively seeking it, if you're not constantly working to improve yourself rather than changing your surroundings, you're doomed to a lifetime of dissatisfaction.more
A far more accessible piece of writing than "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas;" I'm not sure which I prefer - Thompson as he is here, human and frail and in love in a foreign and exotic country, or Thompson when he's so far gone on drugs that it feels like I'm trapped with his characters in some sci-fi alternate reality.more
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