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The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads) by…
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The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads) (original 1998; edition 2004)

by Hunter S. Thompson

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2,776362,109 (3.77)30
Member:AHS-Wolfy
Title:The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads)
Authors:Hunter S. Thompson
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2004), Edition: UK open market ed, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Gonzo Journalism, 12 in 12

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The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (1998)

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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 |
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 |
Instead of the cryptic, difficult read I expected with my first foray into the realm of Hunter S. Thompson, I found The Rum Diary surprisingly accessible. Although the book is anything but tame, I had thought Thompson's prose would be something like listening to the devil tell campfire tales on LSD.

Set in Puerto Rico in 1958, The Rum Diary chronicles the hot and humid days and nights of Paul Kemp, a drifter and journalist who lands a job writing for an English-language newspaper in San Juan. Thompson's narrative is direct and engaging. His descriptions create scenes that are vivid without overdoing the adjectives and giving us a laundry list of unnecessary details...

“Sala's apartment on Calle Tetuan was about as homey as a cave, a dank grotto in the very bowels of the Old City. It was not any upscale neighborhood. Sanderson shunned it and Zimburger called it a sewer. It reminded me of a big handball court in some stench-ridden YMCA. The ceiling was twenty feet high, not a breath of clean air, no furniture except two metal cots and an improvised picnic table, and since it was on the ground floor we could never open the windows because thieves would come in off the street and sack the place. A week after Sala moved in he left one of the windows unlocked and everything he owned was stolen, even his shoes and dirty socks.”

As one would expect, there's plenty of rum in this book; iced rum, warm rum, by the shot or by the bottle it's the self-medication of choice for Kemp and his fellow staffers. Thompson seems to be saying, basically, San Juan sucks if you do it sober.

Although there's no real plot to the character-driven tale, the underlying factor is whether or not the newspaper will fold and put the writers, photographer and editors out of work. But then, no one seems to care all that much; losing one's job seems to be more of a pain in the ass than a career crisis.

The only real problem I had with this book is that there's only one female character, Chenault, and she's not really fleshed out much. She flits about here and there spending most of her time with an abusive “boyfriend” and, you guessed it, getting drunk with the guys.

The Rum Diary left me definitely wanting to read more by Thompson. He's a skilled story-teller, rough around the edges sometimes but smooth enough to lace the visceral with the thought-provoking. ( )
  JPDCompendium | May 22, 2014 |
'Here I was, living in a luxury hotel, ,racing around a half-Latin city in a toy car that looked like a cockroach and sounded like a jet fighter, sneaking down alleys and humping on the beach, scavenging for food in shark-infested waters, hounded by mobs yelling in a foreign tongue - and the whole thing was taking place in quaint old Spanish Puerto Rico...'

I would guess that in the time that lapsed in this story, a couple tons of rum was consumed. I suppose that explains the title. But serious, these people had to be staggering around drunk all the time. It's amazing they actually got anything done. Oh wait. That's right. They didn't. But considering this story is set in the late 1950's I suppose that would explain their behavior as well.

"We're all going to the same damn places, doing the same damn things people have been doing for fifty years, and we keep waiting for something to happen. You know - I'm a rebel, I took off - now where's my reward?"
"You fool," I said." There is no reward and there never was."


Gritty and raw with a tinge of desperation. Paul Kemp in addition to everyone else he's become acquainted with since his arrival on the island of Puerto Rico have only ended up there in hopes of escaping to something better. After quickly realizing that Puerto Rico (at the time) is far from their original vision of paradise, the spiteful and bitter attitudes begin making an appearance. It doesn't take Kemp long to become just as bitter after the realization that a person can work so hard to have a better life, have more money, and to accomplish your dreams and never actually get anything done except wasting time and getting older.

"We keep getting drunk and these terrible things keep happening and each one is worse than the last... Hell, it's no fun anymore - our luck's all running out at the same time."

The Rum Diary is simply that, a diary. There isn't even that much of a plot, really. It's almost like a pilot episode, a small glimpse of what's to come but unfortunately there isn't any full episode to look forward to. Despite that, I find myself extremely fascinated and I now have an incredibly strong desire to read anything I can get my hands on of Hunter S. Thompson's. The Rum Diary is his second novel which he wrote at the age of 22 is semi-autobiographical because Hunter himself flew down to Puerto Rico as a journalist to write for a newspaper. Despite writing The Rum Diary in the early 1960's, it was never actually published until 1998 because no one was interested and he was constantly rejected. Fortunately, he revisited the idea of publishing it several decades later and he finally succeeding in releasing it to the world. ( )
  bonniemarjorie | May 7, 2013 |
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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 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.

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