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The Rum Diary : A Novel by Hunter S.…

The Rum Diary : A Novel (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Hunter S. Thompson

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2,986411,911 (3.76)37
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
Tags:purchased 2009, 2009, 2011 (45), 2016

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The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (1998)



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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I should give this 2 and half stars really, since that's the bang on average score, but I felt that this read like a sixties version of Hemingway and that was never going to elicit any sympathy stars from me. The stripped down writing and the bland scenes did not help and I felt that it fell into the trap that American roman à clef novels seem to fall into too often - that of being plain boring.

It wasn't exactly ‘bad’, but it was dead flat and with hard to relate to two-dimensional characters, even the main character was fairly hard to like. I'm not surprised that Thompson had this rejected multiple times (it took him nearly 40 years to finally get it published, mainly because he refused to change anything about it); he himself thought it a failure, on the whole I'd agree with him. I'm also not surprised that it was among the first things he wrote, his later, journalistic writing, is way better.
( )
  MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
Now a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp. Well, "major" may be a bit overreaching, since it stayed in the theaters maybe two weeks.

This book is exactly what it says it is" day in and day out of a man who moves to Puerto Rico in the 1950s and lives the hedonistic life. No cares, no ties, no responsibilities. Just booze, sex, a job when he feels like it, and life on the cheap. However, mixing with the locals prove to be a bit of a challenge, but not as much as the other ex-pats in the area.

It was entertaining, but any longer than 204 pages would have been too much. The fact that he is supposed to have influenced a number of contemporary writers, but I can't really see anything extraordinary about his characters (really, just caricatures of personality traits in the typical man: violent, unstable, drunk, sex-crazed, a little psychotic) or his prose (first person told in straight chronology) or the setting (typical 1950s Puerto Rico). One review I read called it "rambling source material" for a movie. I thought this to be quite perfect.

I probably won't read more by this author.

Not recommended.
( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
A bit less drunken and a lot more misogynistic than I thought it would be, but still an amazingly enjoyable and feverish read. ( )
  Zonnywhoop | Aug 27, 2015 |
“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 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -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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