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The Rum Diary: A Novel Paperback – Unabridged, November 1, 1999
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, there was much more to Thompson's methodical writing than 'gonzo' (see his earlier letters for example). Sure, his influences do include Hemingway, and this is most notable in The Rum Diary, but Thompson manages to capture a boozy, sleazy, sun-soaked world full of typical Thompson creatures.
The Rum Diary was actually written in the late 50s - early 60s, however it remained unpublished until the later years when Thompson's name was enough to give it a seal of quality. This is not to say that this novel is just a cash in for Thompson. Reading his letters at the time, he sweated blood to try and get this piece of work published, despite rewriting it many, many times. Also, judging by his letters, he was immensley proud of this book and - as a desperate poverty striken writer without much work - he became disillusioned with publishers and the writing world in general on its lack of success.
The novel simmers along at a subtle pace leading to an edgy - and quite shocking - climax at a street festival. Early characteristics of Thompson's style do break through - most notably the drunken madness and brawls that the antagonist gets involved in.
"When the sun got hot enough it burned away all the illusions and I saw the place as it was - cheap, sullen, and garish - nothing good was going to happen here."
But I'm glad I crashed my first Thompson novel -- it's a wicked cool party. Some of the passages are just like wine on a Sunday afternoon - "All manner of Men came to work for the News: everything from wild young Turks who wanted to rip the world in half and start all over again-to tired, beer- bellied old hacks who wanted nothing more than to live out their days in peace before a bunch of lunactics ripped the world in half."
The book continues on like this for a quick 204 pages, with Thompson occasionally digging up such gems of lines. It's a wild, brash adventure that doesn't seem dated, and stirs up all the feelings about what fiction should be.
Paul Kemp is a thirty-ish with no much hope for his futures. He leaves his New York and moves to Puerto Rico, to work in the only local newspaper published in English. Far from a wealthy reality he dawns in a mad world of drinking, love, jealousy and other insane things, mostly with the help of his journalist friends, until he goes as down as possible and realizes it is time he grew up. Or not.
Written in fine prose with the speed of someone who devours a barrel of rum, "The Rum Diary" is Thompson at his best. His first novel has more stamina, imagination, passion and truth that many experienced writers will never acquire. Writing as someone who knows the cause, the author is able to create believable characters and situations. Anyone who has spend a week in a newspaper knows that there are all kind of people self-proclaiming journalists, not to mention yelling editors going insane all the time, and demanding heads off every day.
We can find in the book --and in real life-- every sort of weirdos that are trying to find a better existence somewhere else far from home. These outsiders that inhabit Thompson's novel are the real thing, which paints a vivid portrait of people thorn between the passion of being a journalist and the fear of never acquiring any real thing in life. Deep inside this is the moral dilema that comsumes Kemp.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was not good. The main character was uninspiring, lazy and boring, It was all I could do to see it through to the end. Basically, this book was a waste of my time. Read morePublished 6 days ago by J. Mostoufi
I thought this book was going to be about Hunter Thompson but was instead written as a fiction. The content of the story was somewhat annoying after days and days of drinking and... Read morePublished 7 days ago by M. Downing
A very disappointing Audio Book. The reading is flat and gives only a dim light. If that were not enough, the book is abridged. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Humble Opinion
Man, I love this book! Thompson is just such a great writer, as anyone who has read his work is fully aware of. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Mr. One-Two
loved it. probbly my fav of his books. thompson somehow makes you long for a debacherous tropical tragedy. ya read it!Published 2 months ago by Michael B Bigrigg
This was the story of newspapermen in the late 1950's working in Puerto Rico. They were allegedly intelligent men writing for a newspaper. Read morePublished 2 months ago by J.C.D.
Great book, my third Hunter S. Thompson novel and my favorite so far.Published 2 months ago by ndmertens
Shows Thompson as he was developing his style of journalistic writing--gonzo before gonzo. Since he couldn't go to Cuba like his inspiration Hemmingway, Puerto Rico was the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jerome