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The Rum Diary

A Novel

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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 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.

Publishers Weekly Review

Nov 02, 1998 – When the celebrated iconoclast was a feisty kid working for an English-language newspaper in San Juan 40 years ago, he wrote, and then put aside, a novel, which is here resurrected. It is very much a young man's book, clearly based on Thompson's own situation and some of the people--mostly drunks and layabouts--who gravitated to a loosely supervised journalistic stint in the tropics. An introduction sets the scene, and the novel that follows is almost equally documentary in tone: young Kemp comes aboard at the News, gets to know its perpetually embattled proprietor and some of his feckless staff. He observes the island, as the invasion of American tourists and values is just beginning to change its lazy, sun-struck character. He gets involved in a drunken fight with the police, is thrown in jail, bailed out and goes in for a little shame-faced PR writing. He comes between a wild colleague and the equally unbuttoned young Connecticut girl he has brought out to visit him, and the end is a youth's easy-won nostalgia for a silly, drunken time. As he always has done, Thompson lays on the drinking and general hell-raising very thick (the amount of rum consumed would dry up a distillery) and indulges flashes of bad temper toward commercialism while always showing a willingness to do whatever it takes to make a buck. His style is less hallucinatory and exclamatory than it later became, but the groundwork is there. The best parts of the book are its occasional, almost grudging, acknowledgments of natural beauty; the people in it are no more than props. Author tour.

Customer Reviews

Hey Depp Fangirls/Fanboys

This is a novel BY HUNTER S. THOMPSON. It has NOTHING to do with Johnny Depp, and your babbling commentary that merely talks about Johnny Depp while ignoring HST is the most pathetic thing I have read on iTunes ever. I would say that HST is rolling in his grave right now, but he was cremated.

And FYI iTunes - the fact that you used the Johnny Depp cover here is also pathetic. Change it.

Not "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," but a good read

Long-time HST fan here. I read The Rum Diary several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The novel is based on Hunter Thompson's time as a journalist in Puerto Rico and the people he worked with. Like any good Thompson story, the descriptions are vivid, with rich characterizations and a journalist's eye for detail. He wrote The Rum Diary when he was in his early 20s, and one can spot his influences, particularly Hemingway and Fitzgerald (Thompson used to spend hours retyping their stories, trying to get a sense of their pacing and rhythm).

While the book is somewhat less "gonzo" than the film's trailer would have you believe, many segments involve Thompson's usual predilections for absurd situations, over-the-top characters, alcohol and assorted "bad craziness." There are glimpses of HST's future style, but overall, The Rum Diary is very much a traditional novel. My biggest quibble is that the story fizzles out towards the end (but to be fair, that's an overall tendency in Thompson's works). The bottom line: if you enjoy well-paced writing with a side order of wicked humor, you'll love it. If you're a Thompson fan, it's a no-brainer.

Great novel.

Much more traditional compared to Thompson's later work but worth the read.

The Rum Diary
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Sep 20, 2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 225 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings