Begun in 1959 by a 22-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.
©1999 Hunter S. Thompson (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
“Crackling, twisted, searing, paced to a deft prose rhythm.... A shot of Gonzo with a rum chaser.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Enough booze to float a yacht and enough fear and loathing to sink it.” (New York Daily News)
“A great and an unexpected joy.... Reveals a young Hunter Thompson brimming with talent.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
No Plot Spoilers.
First novels, especially the first novels of writers who are giants, can be tricky things. Here we have the author of one of the greatest novels of the 20th century (Fear and Loathing in LV). It is difficult to compete with a work like that, especially as a 22 year old who hadn't found his voice yet. Thompson left this in the drawer until Depp convinced him to publish it. I think Thompson realized something was lacking in the piece. I made it 2 and a half hours into it and gave up. I don't believe in wasting more of my listening time than that.
You can hear his style being born with each passing sentence. The short, machine gun phrasing. Incisive jumps in the plot. Details that immediately immerse you in the world being written about. But, at the same time, the plot just doesn't go anywhere. It was circular and ethereal, but without any meaning. Great, so we're in a cynical and drunken 1958 San Juan. But that seemed to be all that it was going to be. I am sure there is some plot development and resolution, but it just wasn't worth the time or effort to get there on the chance of something *maybe* getting better. The beauty of Fear and Loathing was that there was purpose, if an insane one, behind the lunacy.
If you're a Thompson completionist or are very interested in detailed travelogue-esque writing about 1950s sub-tropics, you might find this worthwhile. I, for one, was disappointed. Always have Bat Country though.
I read this because I watched the movie and figured the book would be deeper and better. Love Thompson's liquid descriptions. This book is thickly atmospheric, full of sights, sounds, rich aromas, heat and emotion. If you read (listen to) the book first, you won't like the movie too much, which combines a couple of key characters into one creating a decent movie which of course has little depth. A good read with compelling characters making decisions and choices, sometimes for the wrong reasons with the wrong results.
Mark van Huijstee
I have given copies to people to remind of the days that adventure was all that counted.
The St Thomas Carnival experience will not be forgotten.
Paul Kemp is the man we once were or at least love the think we once were.
The 6 hrs 24 min required less than a weekend to finish.
A 'must-read' book to escape from the books on geopolitics, China, economics etc.
Hunter S. Thompson wasn't going to publish this story which was one of his first but was talked into it by Depp. He should have left it in the drawer. But then I don't like most fiction as I get bored quickly so who am I to tell.
It creates another world in space, time and perspective.
It really is quite refreshing.
The reality of the characters, if such a thing is possible in that world.
I don't think so.
Eat s--t, then crash and burn, then get up next morning and do it all again.
It was a wonderful story.
Loved Thompson's detailed writing although the story took a long time to really get anywhere so I did become a little unengaged. The characters are profoundly real and deeply etched, but on the whole unlikeable as is the protagonist (even though they are entertaining in their dissolute meanderings through life). I find it interesting reading work from the 1950s and earlier, that physical abuse towards women seems to be accepted as easily as batting away a fly. Very disturbing.
..but it is lost in a milk crate under a pile of un-requited exercise equipment down the back of a shed.. so i listen instead.. so glad i did.. made me realise what retarded thing they did with the movie screenplay.. amalgamating key characters, locations & plot points.. sorry, forget the film, with it's fine actors.. but do the book
"Sounds very amateur"
The person who is narrating the story sounds very amateur. I have listened to the recordings from Dracula from Livrebox and one of the voices sounds very familiar. The difference between audible and livrebox website is that here I am paying. I am paying because the first few books I got were with extraordinary quality, one such book is Vanity fair, amazing narrator. I thought that all the recordings were of high standard, Unfortunately, I must admit that my expectations with this particular book (as well as the Republic, Plato) have not been met.
Some of the interpretations/impressions had even a crippling effect on me due to the tone of the voice, not very theatrical; it was like nails scratching on a board! I was getting nervous when listening to it and it made me, initially, not like the book. I did reread the book and I must say it was very good, witty and clever little writing. Although, the author of the book is famous for his quirky talent, the recording does not match the writing style at all.
I am very disappointed.
A fine first novel and so fine novel on any account, the pre Gonzo hunter bug it's there lurking unnamed in the shadows and the empty glasses.
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