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The Rum Diary

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  41,231 Ratings  ·  1,774 Reviews
Made into a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp, The Rum Diary—a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book—is Hunter S. Thompson’s brilliant love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent lust in the Caribbean.

Begun in 1959 by a twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent alco
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1999 by Scribner / Simon & Schuster (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Aug 12, 2011 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I guess I should explain the rating to those of you who would argue that this is Thompson's weakest work, and therefore undeserving of praise...

*This novel catches Thompson before he is wrapped in the arms of fame and can get away with anything he wants. In this particular story, he still has to worry about going broke, getting stuck somewhere without hope or help, and potentially watching his dreams smash against the rocks like a heavily polluted ocean wave. Though much of this narrative is fic
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Jonathan Ashleigh
Jan 06, 2016 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it really liked it
This book was brutally normal. It went along nice and regular for a while and then something happens and you are sort of left to wonder how you should feel about it. Hunter S. Thompson is cool and collected in his thoughts and it really feels genuine.

John Zelazny is another emerging Aspen writer and he is picking up where Thompson left off.
Darwin8u
Mar 05, 2016 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, fiction
'"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 ...more
J.F. Lawrence
Nov 13, 2011 J.F. Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thompson wrote this semi-autobiographical novel in his early twenties but put it aside, regarding it as a failure. Nearly forty years later, apparently with the encouragement of his friend Johnny 'The Colonel' Depp, he dug it out and got it published.

This is the Hunter S. Thompson of his pre-gonzo-journalism callow youth, displaying some obvious influence from Fitzgerald and Hemingway - specifically The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises, I would suggest. And yet the tone and the prose are reco
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Kaya
Mar 14, 2016 Kaya rated it it was ok
It isn't very good. The writing style isn't compelling, there is no plot and no hint of the future nor the direction of the book. This is the kind of book that you either adore or feel indifferent for. It's definitely NOT my kind of the book. There's no deep characterization nor natural relationship between characters.

Paul is an arrogant journalist who makes his way from New York to Puerto Rico to work at the only English-language paper on the island. As the paper sits near bankruptcy, he begin
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Mike
Dec 27, 2007 Mike rated it it was ok
Journalist with bad attitude get a job in Puerto Rico working with other ill-tempered men. By the end of the story he has landed a beautiful girl who is simultaneously innocent and whorish. In between there are several rather pointless episodes of newsroom politics, and a stint at the Carnival which is climaxed by the girl dancing naked at a party: exposed to a pointedly non-white audience she clinches the narrators sympathy.

Fans of HST may wish to read this for a look at his writing before he
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A.J.
Aug 27, 2008 A.J. rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, literary
Hunter Thompson's original ambition was to be a novelist, and he wrote two unpublished novels, Prince Jellyfish and The Rum Diary, before he became a star of New Journalism and abandoned fiction for good. Prince Jellyfish has not seen the light of day, except in a short, forgettable excerpt, but The Rum Diary did, well after the fact.

And it's not very good. It opens with an uninteresting passage of description that attempts to set up the narrator and characters as larger than life. Thompson's pr
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Judy
Oct 14, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it

I have a fascination with Hunter S Thompson. To me, he is the quintessential bad boy of the late 60s and onward. In your face, always high, and getting away with it. I used to fall for guys like that. I even married one but it didn't last. Still, I have a romantic remnant that attracts me to such rebels.

But I haven't read his books, just his Rolling Stone pieces as they appeared during the years I was reading that mag, before it lost its edge. So, in my usual way, I am starting at the beginning.
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Bonnie
Nov 14, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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,
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Abdul Q. Bastian
Mar 22, 2011 Abdul Q. Bastian rated it really liked it
I just spent more than an hour and a half finishing The Rum Diary. I wanted to stop and hit the sack but something inside me whispered to go on. It was when I realized that nothing actually happened in the book. Large portion of the book was very descriptive; it’s like reading a strong-opinionated newspaper article about Puerto Rico and its appalling inhabitants.

The Rum Diary opens very promising, with snippets of office politics, masculine desperation and one’s search to find the meaning of li
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Misha
Jul 16, 2009 Misha rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Misha by: book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Cunningham

My first night in Saigon. I was sitting in a restaurant when a blind lady selling counterfeit books approached my table. Despite her glazed eyeballs (and her inability to find my eyes with her own) I was captivated by her bright personality and attractive face, and so I decided to actually have a look at her selection of illegally printed books rather than shoo her off like I did everyone else. She mostly had garbage travel books and lonely planet guides, but I did spot The Rum Diary (1961) in t
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Tocotin
Jun 14, 2015 Tocotin rated it did not like it
Recommended to Tocotin by: my friend Dan
Oh girlfriends, is this stuff dated! It’s so dated it stinks. I can’t imagine who would like to read it, really. Old boys, priests of the cult of St. Hemingway, who feel nostalgic about the good times when women, coloreds, and queers knew their place? Honestly, I can’t see the appeal.

So the dude knew how to write, but hey, there are plenty of good writers who manage to write well AND stay fresh and relevant. Thompson isn’t one of them.

It’s a sad and Tragic story of tough white Guys who are alone
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Kiesha
Mar 20, 2012 Kiesha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think books should carry a misogyny warning box on the cover; just an FYI for the discerning reader. I could have used a warning of that ilk before beginning this book.

Gross mistreatment, blatant abuse, and general lack of respect for women aside, I found the book disappointing. I didn’t connect with the main character (or any other character for that matter). He did nothing and went nowhere in the course of the tale and drank the entire time. Even his internal dialogue about his current stat
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MsDanaE
May 06, 2010 MsDanaE rated it it was ok
You know they're making a movie of The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp? I drove by the newspaper office they created the other day. Too bad I wasn't here when they were filming.

It makes me wonder why these kinds of stories live on and on. Why is Thompson's drunken rantings considered important literature? I was especially disgusted by the story of the girl who "...went crazy - totally crazy" and then in the next paragraph is called a "whore" because she was drunk and was being objectified. I'm so tir
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Rob Damon
New review:
I’d love to go to the Caribbean and do nothing but drink rum for a few months. Instead I’ll have to settle for picking up this book every now and then and reading a few pages. Although there is no plot going on, this book works in an abstract kind of way – giving the reader the experience of spending idle time wandering aimlessly around the head of a drunk who doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life anymore. I read it at about the age of 30 and it works for me now just like it work
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Paul
Aug 24, 2007 Paul rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: HST Fans
This is my first foray into Hunter S. Thompson's work. Ashamedly, I have not read any of his legitimate Gonzo journalism, and I understand that this is not an appropriate representation of his more psychedelic work. However, from the standpoint of an everyday novel, this is one of the best non-crime fiction, non-science fiction, non-Vonnegut mundane fiction that I have read in a long time.
I don't anticipate all of Hunter's work to resonate the same way this work has, but I don't want to dismiss
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Josh Duggan
Dec 02, 2011 Josh Duggan rated it liked it
This was the first time that I've actually ventured into the works of Hunter S. Thompson. I was immediately taken by how immensely readable it was. I had the misguided preconception that it would have been more difficult as a result of his historic substance [ab]use. Concerns were quickly alleviated, and following Thompson's presumed alter-ego to San Juan, Puerto Rico, proved to be an interesting ride.

Despite The Rum Diary having been the first novel Thompson wrote (it was mostly written in 1959
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Jason Koivu
This is rum, indeed! Very questionable goings on going on here!

I believe this is labeled as fiction, but since Hunter S. Thompson mostly wrote about his experiences, The Rum Diary is probably about as fictional as say Kerouac's On The Road.

Even calling it "semi-autobiographical" is a scary prospect since that means at least some of this horror happened. "Horror" Koivu? ...Well okay, maybe it's lightened by some dark humor, but there are still some pretty awful things that happen herein, take fo
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Larry
Dec 14, 2008 Larry rated it really liked it
I've read mostly everything else HST has written, and had heard of this early novel, but hadn't found it on the library shelves. So when I found it on sale at Borders I jumped. It's clear that this is early work, it lacks the bite of the Gonzo. Nevertheless, the writing is clear and well paced.

To me it seemed as though this was almost autobiographical in the sense that parts of HST are in different characters. Maybe the narrator is HST at the time he wrote this - not young and naive anymore, bu
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Dave
Sep 20, 2011 Dave rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It is by far my favorite HST book. I recently re-read it for the first time in about 15 years and I was struck by not only how well my memory of it served, but by how much the story changed for me reading it now in my 30s as opposed to when I first read it in my teens. While all of Thompson's work has a defeatist undercurrent of despair, The Rum Diary always struck me as the most authentic. If all of his work, to some degree strives to capture ...more
Michael
This is a mediocre semi-biographical novel about a very ill tempered, drunkard of a journalist. The whole book is just a content battle with jealousy, treachery, violent alcoholism and lust but this book doesn’t really move very fast and seems to feel like it drags way too much. I was expecting something exciting but the plot seemed to drag on and while hinting at a plot this book never really took off. Maybe as a movie it would be cut down enough to make a plot but as a book this seemed to drag ...more
Zee
Sep 27, 2010 Zee rated it liked it
"The scene I had just witnessed brought back a lot of memories – not of things I have done but of things I have failed to do, wasted hours and frustrated moments and opportunities forever lost because time had eaten so much of my life and I would never get it back."

Paul Kemp; an arrogant, know-it-all journalist makes his way from New York to Puerto Rico to work at the only English-language paper on the island, 'The Daily News'. The people there however, are like the weather; hot-tempered and vol
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Patrícia
Esta é a primeira obra de Hunter S. Thompson. Escrita aos vinte e dois anos de idade, marcou o início de uma carreira, dedicada a contracultura americana, daquele que foi o criador do jornalismo gonzo. Recentemente adaptado para o cinema, O Diário a Rum volta as livrarias para voltar a deixar a sua marca.
Este livro foi uma das prendas de Natal da mãezinha, e ela comprou-mo… sim, porque tinha o Johnny Deep na capa. Ridículo, eu sei mas como até tinha tenções de ver o filme porque lá está, sou fã
...more
David Hartzheim
May 22, 2014 David Hartzheim rated it really liked it
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. Tho
...more
Adam Floridia
Oct 21, 2011 Adam Floridia rated it really liked it
This really is a 2.5-3 star book. However, I "really liked it." It's been years since I've read Fear and Loathing and, more surprisingly, probably at least a year since I watched the movie, a movie that I watched like every week in college. Having spent so much time away from Thompson, a nice dose of "Raoul Duke" is just what I needed. Actually, the protagonist/narrator in this is one Paul Kemp. Although Kemp's life is definitely derived from Thompson's experiences, Kemp is strictly a character ...more
Brian
Jun 29, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
This is where one of the greatest writers of my generation had his start. In his early 20s, and fresh out of the military, Hunter S. Thompson would spend his days honing his craft in the developing years of Puerto Rico. Tapping into the alcohol, sexiness and unapologetic excess that would define the later Gonzo style of the "Fear and Loathing..." works, "The Rum Diary" finds Hunter in the makings of his talent. It is unrefined and his trade-marks haven't quite become the hallmark prose you ...more
Nick Guadagnino
Mar 30, 2014 Nick Guadagnino rated it did not like it
Honestly? I probably should have read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas first. I've heard good things about Hunter S. Thompson so I figured I would give him a shot, The Rum Diary being my first real exposure to his work. In my humble opinion, this book was complete garbage. It was filled with some kooky characters that I wasn't very interested in, a whole lot of rum, and a bunch of nonsense about being "over the hill." I can understand and appreciate when a writer goes through a mid-life crisis and ...more
Arcadia
So. Much. Rum.
Hunter S. Thompson though..... damn, his gonzo journalism style takes you right to the heart of Puerto Rico, you feel everything the way I'm sure he experienced everything. Not a 5 as it doesn't reveal any essential human truths aside from that of 'if you're going to do anything, might as well be drunk'.
"Balls," said Yeamon.
Sean DeLauder
Nov 17, 2013 Sean DeLauder rated it it was amazing
This early work by Thompson is cynically compelling for reasons I have a difficult time quantifying. I'm not a fan of alcoholism or unredeeming gloominess, but these are two of the driving forces behind the story. There are hints of Thompson's burgeoning wit and unconventional prose, but what is most fascinating are the varying degrees of "suckfish" employed by a low-grade Puerto Rican newspaper where the main character, Paul Kemp, finds himself employed. Kemp, a journalist in his early 30s, ...more
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Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author, famous for his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become the central figures of their stories. He is also known for his promotion and use of psychedelics and other mind-altering substanc ...more
More about Hunter S. Thompson...

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“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.” 690 likes
“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles - a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other - that kept me going.” 600 likes
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