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The Rum Diary  By  cover art

The Rum Diary

By: Hunter S. Thompson
Narrated by: Christopher Lane
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Publisher's Summary

Begun in 1959 by a 22-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. The narrator, freelance journalist Paul Kemp, irresistibly drawn to a sexy, mysterious woman, is soon thrust into a world where corruption and get-rich-quick schemes rule and anything (including murder) is permissible. Exuberant and mad, youthful and energetic, this dazzling comedic romp provides a fictional excursion as riveting and outrageous as Thompson's Fear and Loathing books.

©1999 Hunter S. Thompson (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

“Crackling, twisted, searing, paced to a deft prose rhythm.... A shot of Gonzo with a rum chaser.” ( San Francisco Chronicle)
“Enough booze to float a yacht and enough fear and loathing to sink it.” ( New York Daily News)
“A great and an unexpected joy.... Reveals a young Hunter Thompson brimming with talent.” ( The Philadelphia Inquirer)

What listeners say about The Rum Diary

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Either a Priest or a Fool

'"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 it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.' - Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

At once a slice of Lowry's 'Under the Volcano' and every other writer (Faulkner, Hemingway, Kerouac, et al) who drinks too much on an island with a girl. It is easy to drive too fast down the roads of this book and miss the fantastic prose. Even early Thompson had the sweaty, sharp, twisted prose that hits you in the head like a hammer. One would think rum, women, sand and hamburgers might be heaven, but it also might be the next step to death. Thompson finds that awkward, brief shadow between paradise and hell and soaks it in and leaves us trails of grace out of that hot, heavy mess.

14 people found this helpful

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i own this paperback..

..but it is lost in a milk crate under a pile of un-requited exercise equipment down the back of a shed.. so i listen instead.. so glad i did.. made me realise what retarded thing they did with the movie screenplay.. amalgamating key characters, locations & plot points.. sorry, forget the film, with it's fine actors.. but do the book

6 people found this helpful

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Poor rep of HST

I am a huge HST fan. but the narrorator is so off the mark that I could not finish.

3 people found this helpful

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Not the trip you expect but the the book you need

I love this story because it's not as crazy as fear and loathing but it has a lot to say for itself. It's definitely one of those things you walk away from feeling like you found something quite beautifully unexpected in yourself.

3 people found this helpful

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A pleasant haze with depth

I read this because I watched the movie and figured the book would be deeper and better. Love Thompson's liquid descriptions. This book is thickly atmospheric, full of sights, sounds, rich aromas, heat and emotion. If you read (listen to) the book first, you won't like the movie too much, which combines a couple of key characters into one creating a decent movie which of course has little depth. A good read with compelling characters making decisions and choices, sometimes for the wrong reasons with the wrong results.

3 people found this helpful

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Maybe shouldn't have published it.

Hunter S. Thompson wasn't going to publish this story which was one of his first but was talked into it by Depp. He should have left it in the drawer. But then I don't like most fiction as I get bored quickly so who am I to tell.

3 people found this helpful

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terrible story with an excellent performance

This story was a total yawn fest. I'm surprised it's still in publication.

The performance, however, was superb.

2 people found this helpful

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Makes you close LinkedIn and take a plane

Would you listen to The Rum Diary again? Why?

I have given copies to people to remind of the days that adventure was all that counted.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Rum Diary?

The St Thomas Carnival experience will not be forgotten.

Which character – as performed by Christopher Lane – was your favorite?

Paul Kemp is the man we once were or at least love the think we once were.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The 6 hrs 24 min required less than a weekend to finish.

Any additional comments?

A 'must-read' book to escape from the books on geopolitics, China, economics etc.

2 people found this helpful

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My favorite book

With the old timer talk and the setting of the late 1950s Thompson captured a piece of that decade, and gave it life with real characters going through the crualty and benefits of life.

1 person found this helpful

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Great read!!!

Only complaint is how short it was... I wanted to keep reading and reading it!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Radost
  • 12-29-11

Sounds very amateur

The person who is narrating the story sounds very amateur. I have listened to the recordings from Dracula from Livrebox and one of the voices sounds very familiar. The difference between audible and livrebox website is that here I am paying. I am paying because the first few books I got were with extraordinary quality, one such book is Vanity fair, amazing narrator. I thought that all the recordings were of high standard, Unfortunately, I must admit that my expectations with this particular book (as well as the Republic, Plato) have not been met.
Some of the interpretations/impressions had even a crippling effect on me due to the tone of the voice, not very theatrical; it was like nails scratching on a board! I was getting nervous when listening to it and it made me, initially, not like the book. I did reread the book and I must say it was very good, witty and clever little writing. Although, the author of the book is famous for his quirky talent, the recording does not match the writing style at all.
I am very disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Emma Osborne
  • 11-09-22

Leaves a bad taste in the mouth

Well written, but a story about vapid misogynistic white men moaning about problems of their own creation.

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  • Gustav
  • 12-24-15

Interesting...

really good however it takes some time to get started. Well worth a read though

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  • WoodWild
  • 02-26-15

Much underrated

A fine first novel and so fine novel on any account, the pre Gonzo hunter bug it's there lurking unnamed in the shadows and the empty glasses.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-08-22

Lost with time

story was ok. maybe has lost some impact over time.
performance was a bit dry

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-27-21

the best

my favorite audio book to date
great narration and story line probably better than the movie itself

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-17-18

Drunk in the Sun

Thompson's work always has a hostile tone to me. His characters are seldom dignified nor easy to like. They are anti-heroes. Irresponsible, impulsive, indulgent. They are cursed with hubris, drinking themselves into oblivion and constantly making bad decisions. They are cynical about government and other forms of authority. They are intellectual rebels that are pretentious and sexist at parties. But their lives are so wild, unpredictable and exhilarating because of their reckless behaviour, that it makes for a gripping read.

This book chronicles the drunken adventures of Paul Kemp during his time writing as a journalist in Puerto Rico. He has sex with beautiful women, drinks, writes and complains about a boss that won't publish anything interesting. He analyses the culture of Puerto Rico as only a privileged white man could. During a brief stay in a stinky, crowded Puerto Rican jail cell, he becomes regretfully aware of his privilege and how it will bite him in the ass at trial.

The narrator's performance was dazzingly. He made bold and nuanced character choices. Each voice was distinct.

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  • Lee
  • 01-16-17

written so well it's poetry

A story written so well it's gritty poetry from start to finish. Th narrator did the book justice too

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • matt
  • 05-18-15

Excellent story

Fantastic story. Read impeccably. I hung on every word and felt involved in the characters. It makes having a drinking problem sound positively entertaining.