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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 10-01-15

Either a Priest or a Fool

'"Happy," I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is on of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don't have much fait in them and I am no exception -- especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they're scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.' - Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

At once a slice of Lowry's 'Under the Volcano' and every other writer (Faulkner, Hemingway, Kerouac, et al) who drinks too much on an island with a girl. It is easy to drive too fast down the roads of this book and miss the fantastic prose. Even early Thompson had the sweaty, sharp, twisted prose that hits you in the head like a hammer. One would think rum, women, sand and hamburgers might be heaven, but it also might be the next step to death. Thompson finds that awkward, brief shadow between paradise and hell and soaks it in and leaves us trails of grace out of that hot, heavy mess.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 03-26-13

i own this paperback..

..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

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A pleasant haze with depth

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Love it

Closer to lucid than Fear and Loathing but just as degenerate in its own way.

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another over-the-top work by Hunter S Thompson

another of Hunter s.thompson extremely raucous over-the-top stories about debauchery in the newspaper business. it is full of larger-than-life, absurd characters, heavy drinking, the Staples of hunters Thompson's work.

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WAS THIS WORTH TURNING INTO A MOVIE?

What made the experience of listening to The Rum Diary the most enjoyable?

the anticipation of waiting for something meaningful to happen

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

odd, unfufilling

Have you listened to any of Christopher Lane’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't believe I've listened to his other performances. He did a great job with limited material

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

no.

  • Overall
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Makes you close LinkedIn and take a plane

Would you listen to The Rum Diary again? Why?

I have given copies to people to remind of the days that adventure was all that counted.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Rum Diary?

The St Thomas Carnival experience will not be forgotten.

Which character – as performed by Christopher Lane – was your favorite?

Paul Kemp is the man we once were or at least love the think we once were.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The 6 hrs 24 min required less than a weekend to finish.

Any additional comments?

A 'must-read' book to escape from the books on geopolitics, China, economics etc.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • N
  • Oakleigh South, Australia
  • 02-20-12

Another world does exist!

Would you listen to The Rum Diary again? Why?

It creates another world in space, time and perspective.<br/>It really is quite refreshing.

What did you like best about this story?

The reality of the characters, if such a thing is possible in that world.

Have you listened to any of Christopher Lane’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't think so.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Eat s--t, then crash and burn, then get up next morning and do it all again.

Any additional comments?

It was a wonderful story.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Greenville, sc, United States
  • 11-29-11

Decent story that sticks with you

Not a bad read. I enjoyed it more afterwards when I reflected on the story vs. while I was listening to the book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A rum review

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.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Radost
  • 12-29-11

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Gustav
  • 12-24-15

Interesting...

really good however it takes some time to get started. Well worth a read though

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  • ReadingWild
  • 02-26-15

Much underrated

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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  • Lee
  • 01-16-17

written so well it's poetry

A story written so well it's gritty poetry from start to finish. Th narrator did the book justice too

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  • matt
  • 05-18-15

Excellent story

Fantastic story. Read impeccably. I hung on every word and felt involved in the characters. It makes having a drinking problem sound positively entertaining.