Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Rum Diary” as Want to Read:
The Rum Diary
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Rum Diary

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  53,159 ratings  ·  2,107 reviews
Paul Kemp has moved from New York to the steamy heat of Puerto Rico to work at the Daily News. He starts hanging out at Al's Backyard, a local den selling booze and hamburgers to vagrant journalists who are mostly crazy drunks on the verge of quitting. Then he meets Yeamon, whose delectable girlfriend has Kemp stewing in his own lust. But the idle tension that builds up in ...more
Paperback, 213 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published 1998)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Rum Diary, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  53,159 ratings  ·  2,107 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Rum Diary
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Aug 07, 2011 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
...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Brina
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, journalism
The summer is getting steamy. Endless days above ninety degrees has me sitting in air conditioning nonstop. When I go out to on errands like I did yesterday, I find myself craving an ice cold drink. This summer I also actually participated in a seasonal challenge. I am a mood reader so I tend to avoid challenges other than open ended ones, but seven letters of scrabble was too fun to pass up. One of my letters was “r” and in need of a book, I caught the notice of rum. Rum and coke is definitely ...more
Darwin8u
Sep 30, 2015 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
F
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
LOVED IT - Much preferred this the 2nd time around.

Loved him referring to the other woman as his pig date all the time! So funny.

Kevin Shepherd
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No matter how much I wanted all those things that I needed money to buy, there was some devilish current pushing me off in another direction - toward anarchy and poverty and craziness. That maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas Goat."

Allegedly autobiographical, The Rum Diary is an accounting of newspaper journalist Paul Kemp's alcohol induced misadventures in Puerto Rico, circa 1959(ish). Aptly titled with a plethora of boozy contrivances an
...more
J.F. Lawrence
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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
...more
Kaya
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It isn't very good. The writing style isn't compelling, there is no plot and no hint of the future nor of the direction of the book. This is the kind of novel that you either adore or feel indifferent about. It's definitely NOT my cup of tea. There's no deep characterization nor natural growth of the bond 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
...more
Abdul Q. Bastian
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mike
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Brett C
I thought the story was a little slow, dull, and uninteresting at times. The plot was linear and logical but it lacked a hook to keep me interested. The dialogue and the interactions between the characters were believable The saving grace was Hunter S. Thompson's writng style. As with 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' I truly enjoyed the voice he is able to put behind his writing. This made the writing feel alive and vibrant. Overall it was an OK story but it went nowhere it thought. Thanks!
Bonnie
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
'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,
...more
Michael Cunningham
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it

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
...more
Ashley Daviau
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been a fan of Thompson’s writing since I first read and fell in love with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and I haven’t looked back since! I absolutely adore his writing style, it’s just so gritty and has this really spectacular punch. I think this book is my least favourite out of the three of his I’ve read so far but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t great! It was an excellent story and I felt like I was living an episode of Narcos as I was reading and I loved it. But I do have to deduct one minor ...more
Misha
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Misha by: book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Josh
Not sure what the purpose of this book was. Throughout reading I struggled to find any semblance of a plot as the drunken Paul Kemp meandered through a series of rum bottles and dull conversations with equally dull characters.

My rating: 2/5 stars. I couldn't get into this, luckily the audio edition was only 3hrs and 55mins long so it's not like I wasted a lot of time on the book. Campbell Scott was a decent enough narrator but he could only do so much with the drab 'story' if it can be called t
...more
Tocotin
Jun 14, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mike
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: not explicitly recommended by Kareem, but taken from his bookshelf

"You're the same way", he said. "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." He looked up. "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."


When I stayed with my friend Kareem in Boston for a few days this past August, his daily work schedule was from 7am-3pm. He didn't have an extra key, so I couldn't leave his apart
...more
britt_brooke
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted it was worth knowing."

Rum. Lots of rum. And few hamburgers. Some debauchery. A little journalism. I liked it.

This semi-autobiographical novel was the second book Thompson penned yet was not published until 1998, presumably for financial reasons.
Larry
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mike Marsbergen
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
First time I read this book, I was in the perfect place: depressed and working night shifts for a dead-end job with people I hated. My breaks were spent up in the lunchroom, 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
...more
Brian
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 norma ...more
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
...more
A.J.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, fiction
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
...more
Paul
Aug 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...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
MsDanaE
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
debbicat
I read some of the book but mostly listened to the audio. It was ok., I used it for my summer scrabble challenge. Gonna watch the movie from the library this weekend. I hope I like it better. Johnny Depp is a plus.
Kiesha
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Rob Damon
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Beatdom: Your Favourite Non-Beat Author 11 26 Aug 19, 2016 10:22AM  
Your most memorable moments from reading this year 2 20 Jan 21, 2015 07:51AM  
Book to Movie Adaptation... 10 67 Sep 30, 2013 10:32PM  
The Rum Diary: Opinions on book to film adaptation? 16 209 Aug 15, 2013 08:46PM  
Fiction? 9 69 Jul 03, 2012 01:01PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Rum Diary 1 2 Jan 08, 2012 12:21PM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN13: 9781451659719 2 19 Oct 08, 2011 01:12PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • On the Road
  • Ham on Rye
  • Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson
  • Post Office
  • Junky
  • The Dharma Bums
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
  • Fear and Loathing: The Strange and Terrible Saga of Hunter S. Thompson
  • Big Sur
  • Factotum
  • Women
  • Filth
  • Naked Lunch
  • Hollywood
  • Fight Club
  • American Psycho
  • Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson
  • The Sun Also Rises
See similar books…
9,729 followers
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

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We’ve got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
36 likes · 58 comments
“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.” 770 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.” 710 likes
More quotes…