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The Rum Diary Paperback – 4 Oct 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Export; Reprint edition (4 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451659717
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451659719
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,508,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

"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 F. Scott- Fitzgerald and Ernest 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 --Tim Appelo, --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


‘Crackling, twisted, searing, paced to a deft prose rhythm … a shot of Gonzo with a rum chaser’ -- San Francisco Chronicle

‘Hilarious, utterly real and tragic … A lithe, well-crafted gem of a novel which leaves the reader disturbed and grinning’ -- Scotland on Sunday

‘Remarkable - a genuine, 100% proof discovery of great literary importance’ -- Mail on Sunday

‘Wild, witty, angry, cynical and sarcastic … A funny book that will make your life seem boring by comparison’ -- Scene --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For your next beach holiday, forget your suntan lotion + order this. There is enough sun, sand + Caribbean rum in this novel to keep you going through the winter.
You may have heard of Thompson's "FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS" which was made into a film with Johnny Depp + Benicio Del Toro in 1998. This, Thompson's first novel, bares some similarities, although the drug intake is a little tamer + the general feel of the book is a little more laidback.
It chronicles the drunken antics of budding journalist Paul Kemp during the late 50s in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kemp is a thinly disguised Thompson, (the novel being very close to autobiographical), who starts work for the San Juan Daily News, a paper which is constantly on the brink of bankruptcy due to its corrupt, degenerate + drug addled staff.
It is because of the town's gradual intake of American greedmongers + social misfits that there is a growing sense of unrest among the locals who have begun to want the paper + its staff off the island.
To add to this cocktail are the sultriest, most maddening charms to appear on a written page, in the shape of hard-partying but tragic blonde Chenault, the girlfriend of one of Kemp's colleagues. The summer heat + mounting tension become more enveloping + intense with every turn of the page, masterfully turning Kemp's copious consumption of rum into a thoroughly riveting read..
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Format: Paperback
Hunter makes you feel in this short novel that you are the protagonist, and that it is you who is experiencing the craziness of Carribbean nights and parties, the rum, the fear, the uncertainty, the laissez-faire article writing, the beautiful girl. It is an adventure, and one worth having. If you are looking for escapism, this is it. If you are looking for quality writing, this is it. If you're looking for a good story, this is it.
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Format: Paperback
'TRD' was written in 1959 (though not published until the 1990s) and tells the story of Hunter Thompson's time working for a newspaper in Puerto Rico. Thompson (under the guise of Jack Kemp), joins a small staff of hard-drinking US expats misbehaving on the Carribean island, and finds himself doing much more boozing and partying than actual journalism. 'TRD' follows his chaotic lifestyle, as well as that of his colleagues, as the newspaper falls apart and their veneer of civilisation crumbles.
'TRD' is a fascinating book, especially for Thompson fans. Although the voice is distinctively his, it was written before he had his hopes raised and dashed by the social revolution of the sixties. Consequently the 'American Dream' was yet to be extinguished and the Thompson of 'TRD' is still very much in search of it. However, his disillusionment with his home country is clear. Initially the Puerto Ricans are portrayed unfavourably but, as the book progresses, we see that it is the American journalists who are dangerously unstable, typified by the violent Yeamon and his volatile girlfriend, as well as the more refined but no less odious Zimburger. 'TRD' is a kind of 'Heart of Darkness', as the image of the civilised American disintegrates into an orgy of drinking and violence..
I enjoyed 'TRD' a lot. It is brutal proto-Thompson. Perhaps it is a more likeable, even heroic, Thompson than his later books, but it is still easily identifiable as the cynical and weary journalist. It is less funny than his later works, but well written and enthralling. This is where Thompson's journey into the heart of American darkness began, and should be widely read for that alone.
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Format: Paperback
This novel was written by Thompson in 1959, when he was only 22 and was probably yet to put the words "fear" and "loathing" into a sentence together. Only recently was the manuscript found and published, and well worth the 40 year wait it is, this is the great Hunter S. showing very definite early signs of his full potential and brilliance. Paul Kemp is how Thompson saw himself in 10 years time; drinking heavily and sweating a lot in some hot foreign paradise. He first arrives in Puerto rico after an alcohol fueled wrestling match on a plane with an old man who obstructs his view of a young blonde he has his eye on, and the first thing his new employer does is to ask him if he is a pervert, telling him that one more pervert at the newspaper would be the last straw. you can almost hear Kemp asking himself what the hell he is doing here amidst his laid back commentary. Along the way he befriends a terminal cynic, a mad bisexual, and a massive violent nut, who enjoys twisting heads...and these are just his fellow journalists. Thompson here lays out exactly how hard it is to survive and make a healthy living in a place like Puerto Rico, and all through a cloud of rum. Sheer Brilliance
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I regret not reading The Rum Diaries when it was first released , and it's taken the release of the movie to prompt me , to read the book. The Rum diaries is a great refreshing read like the breaks of the Caribbean ocean. Based in the late fifties on the sundrenched latin American Caribbean island of Puerto Rico and centred around a group of quite hedonistic American journalists , based in Sanjuan as they survive on a diet of litres of rum, junk food at seedy bars, and an extreme social life including skinny dipping in the Caribbean surf. The plot and pace flow compulsively in this classic which is an easy read not to be missed.
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