The Rum Diary: The Long-lost Novel

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9780747541684: The Rum Diary: The Long-lost Novel
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The author's first novel, written in 1959 on the back of his experience of working in San Juan in Puerto Rico, about the exploits of a drunken journalist.

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Review:

"Disgusting as he usually was," Hunter Thompson writes in this, his 1959 novel, "on rare occasions he showed flashes of a stagnant intelligence. But his brain was so rotted with drink and dissolute living that whenever he put it to work it behaved like an old engine that had gone haywire from being dipped in lard." Surprise! Thompson isn't writing about himself, but one of the other, older, aimlessly carousing newspapermen in Puerto Rico, a guy called Moberg whose chief achievement is the ability to find his car after a night's drinking because it stinks so much. (I can smell it for blocks, he boasts.) The autobiographical hero, Paul Kemp, is 30, trapped in a dead-end job (Thompson wound up writing for a bowling magazine), and feeling as if his big-time writer dreams, soaked in Fitzgerald and Hemingway, are evaporating as rapidly as the rum in his fist.

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

About the Author:

Hunter S. Thompson’s books include Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone, Fear and Loathing in America, Screwjack, Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex, and Kingdom of Fear. He died in February 2005.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780684856476: The Rum Diary: A Novel

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0684856476 ISBN 13:  9780684856476
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 1999
Softcover

9781451659719: The Rum Diary: A Novel

Simon ..., 2011
Softcover

9780684855219: The Rum Diary: The Long Lost Novel

Simon ..., 1998
Hardcover

9780747574576: The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads)

Blooms..., 2004
Softcover

9781408814673: The Rum Diary

Blooms..., 2011
Softcover

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