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The Rum Diary

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  35,104 ratings  ·  1,563 reviews
Begun in 1959 by a then-twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery and violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s. Exuberant and mad, youthful and energetic, The Rum Diary is an outrageous, drunken romp in the spirit of Thompson's bestselling Fear a ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1999 by Scribner / Simon & Schuster (first published 1998)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
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
J.F. Lawrence
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
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
Hunter Thompson's original ambition was to be a novelist, and he wrote two unpublished novels, Prince Jellyfish and The Rum Diary, before he became a star of New Journalism and abandoned fiction for good.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

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.
'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,
Abdul Q. Bastian
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
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
Jonathan Ashleigh
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.
Jul 16, 2009 Misha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Misha by: book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 24, 2007 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
David Hartzheim
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
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
Sean DeLauder
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, win ...more
Adam Floridia
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
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
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
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
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
Nick Guadagnino
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
Josh Duggan
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
Ah, Hunter… This is his very first novel, the one he said would elevate San Juan the way that Hemmingway’s The Old Man and The Sea did for Key West. And in fact, the Puerto Rico of the 1950s is described in filthy, loving detail. Well, The Rum Diaries didn’t quite elevate San Juan, but it is a very strong, coherent start from one of America’s most revered writers (May he rest in peace.)

In fact, the narrator of TRD is a lot like a young Hunter S. Thompson. In his early 20s, Thompson landed in tro
"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
I read this book years ago before I had seen the movie, before I had read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and before I had myself visited Puerto Rico. I loved it for its craziness, its idealism, its warped characters that only seem to manifest in newsrooms and its simplicity — it's a quick read, but it holds a great deal in barely 200 pages.

Now that I've done all that and read it a second time, it holds up even better. I understand a little bit of the geography better, but mostly I understand the
Mike Marsbergen
First time I read this book, I was in the perfect place: depressed and working night-shift for a dead-end job with people I hated. My breaks were spent up in the lunch-room, alone and wanting to be alone, reading this book and wishing I was stoned. The novel was my reprieve from the mindlessness and numbed-out melancholia. I'm in a different place now, so I'm keen to see how it speaks to me now.


As I expected, the book sung a different song this time around. Far less bleak and hopeless than I
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 madnes ...more
Being from Puerto Rico, I love this book. It's so easy to get lost in the rum and drugs of Old San Juan. Hunter S. Thompson always presents a raw reality and he did so splendidly in this book. I remember when they were shooting the film...I wonder when that comes out....
Simon Jenner
This is my first attempt at reading Thompson's work and I'm very glad I finally got round to it. Paul Kemp is a cynical young man who dislikes capitalism with a vengeance while also struggling against its constant allure. The book tells the story of his association with a struggling newspaper in Puerto Rico in the fifties. To say there is a great deal of rum drunk throughout his stay would be a ridiculous understatement. This is a book about hedonism, morality and finding your own place in a mix ...more
Jerry Ghazali
Paul Kemp yang lebih gemar membiarkan hidupnya kecundang mengikut arus terbang dari New York sambil mengusung mesin taipnya ke Puerto Rico untuk bekerja dengan akhbar berbahasa Inggeris, Daily News yang hampir lingkup di San Juan. Daily News dikendalikan oleh Lotterman, seorang editor yang kerap dilihat dalam keadaan tertekan dan gemar memaki hamun serta merendahkan pekerjanya walau mengetahui akhbarnya tidak akan bernyawa tanpa mereka. Hanya berbekal janji manis dan tidak jemu meyakinkan pekerj ...more
The only thing that kept me going with this book was Hunter S. Thompson's style of writing; his writing is so personal that I felt like I was the main character in the book, I really got to know Paul Kemp, and his way of thinking. The book is very depressing though; it basically talks about the miserable life of an alcoholic journalist who moved to Puerto Rico. We never get to find out what happens to the main character, Paul Kemp, and the girl he ends up falling for, so the end of the book wasn ...more
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Your most memorable moments from reading this year 2 18 Jan 21, 2015 07:51AM  
The Rum Diary: Opinions on book to film adaptation? 18 130 Dec 17, 2013 05:51AM  
Book to Movie Adaptation... 10 59 Sep 30, 2013 10:32PM  
Fiction? 9 64 Jul 03, 2012 01:01PM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN13: 9781451659719 2 19 Oct 08, 2011 01:12PM  
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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...
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (The Gonzo Papers, #1) Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

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“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.” 637 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.” 525 likes
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