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Hunter S. Thompson – The Rum DiaryHere's a short synopsis for The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (yup, the very one who wrote the various Fear and Loathing books) - I can really recommend the book, if you’re looking for a vacation read in a hot destination, then this might be the one to go for!

Given that this is neither a SF/Fantasy or other Speculative Fiction/Alternate History book I’ll keep this short… but I feel that this is a great book, and might make an excellent vacation read for a hot country, so wanted to tell you about nevertheless.

This is not your usual Hunter S. Thompson book – neither is it politically charged, nor is in Gonzo style and/or drug tinged like the infamous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Instead it’s a (semi-)autobiographical story of a ‘vagrant’ journalist named Paul Kemp, who flies to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to work on the island’s only English newspaper, the ‘San Juan Daily News’.

San Juan is described as a messy and hot place ‘where men sweat all day long, and sometimes all night long, too’, where the journalists pass the time drinking rum (loads and loads of it) in Al’s Backyard Bar, with crime, industrial disputes no-one understands, corrupt police, and rich but clueless ‘Yanquis’ who try to cash in on the next big thing (which Puerto Rico is rumoured to be at the time).

The story covers the time from Kemp’s arrival on the island, the people he meets, friends he makes and loses, to the point of his departure a few months later. It is written as a first person account, in a very laid back and detached voice, explaining facts, impressions, and, sometimes, feelings if they’re strong, but never getting dramatic or involved, even if the event or situation could/would call for it. This makes the book a very relaxed and enjoyable read – from the way it is written it reminds me a lot of Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ (but without the travel), Frisch’s ‘Homo Faber’ (but without the incestual drama), or, as the closest match, Bukowski’s ‘Post Office’ (including the alcohol...), but set on a Latin American Island.

A great read, highly recommended.

More Hunter S. Thompson



Title: The Rum Diary
Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 1998
Review Date: June 2006
ISBN: 074757457X
Price: Free with GQ Mag (not that I read it, mind… my copy came from a Charity Shop ;-)
Format: Paperback
Topic: Journalism
Topic: Travel
Topic: Writing


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