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The Rum Diary : A Novel by Hunter S.…
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The Rum Diary : A Novel (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Hunter S. Thompson

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2,844372,050 (3.78)34
Member:ulyssesmcqueen
Title:The Rum Diary : A Novel
Authors:Hunter S. Thompson
Info:Simon & Schuster (1999), Edition: 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:purchased 2009, 2009, 2011 (45)

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The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (1998)

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» See also 34 mentions

English (36)  German (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
“I had a flash of something, a mixture of ignorance and a loose, “what the hell” kind of confidence that comes from a man when the wind picks up and he begins to move in a kind of straight line toward an unknown horizon” Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary
  viking2917 | Jan 19, 2015 |
The life of Hunter S. Thompson largely plays out "on the wild side". Still, while classified as belonging to 1960s counter-culture, his work is not affiliated to the Beat Generation. Thompson's life is quite remarkable, and from its earliest days showed a fascination with the underground, not just literary, but gearing towards the criminal and rough underbelly of society. Still, Thompson was apparently able to channel his energy into a literary production, which has unique features, sparking a genre of itself, and producing very readable works of fiction. Perhaps most well-known for Hell's Angels, Thompson lived and rode with the Hells Angels for a year, as a kind of "participating observation" before publishing his book on the notorious motor club. Disappointingly, Hell's Angels reads more like a journalistic compilation of newspaper clippings than a semi-autobiographical work, possibly to avoid conflict with the Angel's chapter he had been part of. Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs was Thompson's first book to be published, but it was preceded by two novels, Prince Jellyfish, as yet unpublished, and The rum diary, which was begun in 1958, and finished around 1960, but remained unpublished until 1998.

The novel is a fairly joyful story on a sunny island, of a young journalist who discovers how to make a living off writing for a small, local newspaper. The story is set in Puerto Rico, and American colony, which, in the 1950s appears as a relatively lawless, freehaven for adventurous expats. The rum diary is a racy novel, and a very quick read. It tells the story of Paul Kemp, a young journalist, who arrives on the island, lands himself a job as a journalist and starts hanging out with the other editors. Not much happens, but Kemp is quickly able to make some money and earn some respectability, renting a better place, and buying a car. However, hanging out with the clique of editors, and their boozing habits does land them into trouble over a small thing that spins incredibly out of control. Towards the end of the novel, Kemp' relatively simple existence on the island end up in an imbroglio of violence, adultery and alcoholism, from which he can barely escape, getting off the island.

The rum diary is an interesting novel about the struggling early years of a writer, in a somewhat seedy expat environment. The novel has little pretense, and is not much connected with any literary movement of the time. It can be read as a light entertainment. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jan 17, 2015 |
This was a great read. I've always been partial to books that have the main character going through a downward spiral. Being 31 years myself, I could relate to the inner conflicts the main character was facing. I'm glad I read this now instead of earlier or I wouldn't have been able to relate as much to the struggle. I'm interested to see how the movie portrays the book now. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
It's a gentler and kinder Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary, his previously unreleased first novel. His trademark hallucinations and other drug-induced bizarreness are missing because this 1950's novel seems to be pre-heavy drug use for the young Mr. Thompson. The novel wildly spins around a heavy-drinking newspaper reporter and the small circle of his fellow thrill-seeking, globe-trotting reporters in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thompson's world is still very strange, be it using alcohol or drugs. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
As I felt while reading [b:Fear and Loathing|7745|Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream|Hunter S. Thompson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1165639648s/7745.jpg|1309111], I just can't believe the life this guy lived. I mean, really, wow! He was nuts! And he, by all means, got away with being nuts...and drunk!

I can't say my life is enriched or that I know anything more from reading this book, but I can say I enjoyed it. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
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Hunter S. Thompsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the early Fifties, when San Juan first became a tourist town, an ex-jockey named Al Arbonito built a bar in the patio of his house on Calle O'Leary.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684856476, Paperback)

"Disgusting as he usually was," Hunter Thompson writes in this, his 1959 novel, "on rare occasions he showed flashes of a stagnant intelligence. But his brain was so rotted with drink and dissolute living that whenever he put it to work it behaved like an old engine that had gone haywire from being dipped in lard." Surprise! Thompson isn't writing about himself, but one of the other, older, aimlessly carousing newspapermen in Puerto Rico, a guy called Moberg whose chief achievement is the ability to find his car after a night's drinking because it stinks so much. (I can smell it for blocks, he boasts.) The autobiographical hero, Paul Kemp, is 30, trapped in a dead-end job (Thompson wound up writing for a bowling magazine), and feeling as if his big-time writer dreams, soaked in Fitzgerald and Hemingway, are evaporating as rapidly as the rum in his fist.

In fact, Thompson was only 22 when he wrote The Rum Diary, but his fear of winding up like Moberg was well founded. What saved him was the fantastic conflagration of the 1960s, a fiery wind on which the reptilian wings of his prose style could catch and soar to the cackling heights of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Puerto Rico in 1959 doesn't have bad craziness enough to offer Thompson--just a routine drunken-reporter stomping by local cops and a riot over Kemp's friend's temptress girlfriend, a scantily imagined Smith College alumna who likes to strip nude on beaches and in nightclubs to taunt men.

Thompson's prose style only intermittently takes tentative flight--compare the stomping scenes in this book with his breakthrough, Hell's Angels--but it's interesting to see him so nakedly reveal his sensitive innards, before the celebrated clownish carapace grew in. It's also interesting to see how he improved this full version of the novel from the more raw (and racist) excerpts found in the 1990 collection Songs of the Doomed (available on audiocassette, partly narrated by Thompson). --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The irreverent writer's long lost novel, written before his nonfiction became popular, chronicles a journalist's enthusiastic, drunken foray through 1950s San Juan.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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