Begun in 1959 by a then-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. Exuberant and mad, youthful and energetic, The Rum... read more
The Rum Diary was begun in 1959 by a then 22 year old Hunter S. Thompson. It was his first novel, and he told his friend, the author William Kennedy, that The Rum Diary would "in a twisted way...do for San Juan what Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises did for Paris." In Paul Kemp, the... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
The Rum Diary was begun in 1959 by a then 22 year old Hunter S. Thompson. It was his first novel, and he told his friend, the author William Kennedy, that The Rum Diary would "in a twisted way...do for San Juan what Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises did for Paris." In Paul Kemp, the novel's hero, these are the echoes of the young Thompson, who was himself honing his wildly musical writing style as one of the "ill-tempered wandering rabble" on staff at the San Juan Daily News at the time. "I shared a dark suspicion," Kemp says, "that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles--a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other--that kept me going."
The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, & violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s. "It was a gold rush," says the author. "There were naked people everywhere and we all had credit."
Puerto Rico was an unspoiled tropical paradise in those years--before Castro, before JFK, before civil rights & moonwalks & flower power & Vietnam & protests & even before drugs--but the San Juan Daily News was a vortex & a snakepit of all the corrupt new schemes & plots & greedmongers who swarmed in. Paul Kemp, The Rum Diary's narrator, speakes for the unfocused angst of those times: "In a sense I was one of them--more competent than some and more stable than others--and in the years that I carried that ragged banner I was seldom unemployed. Sometimes I worked for three newspapers at once. I wrote ad copy for new casinos and bowling alleys. I was a consultant for the cockfighting syndicate, an utterly corrupt highend restaurant critic, a yachting photographer and a routine victim of police brutality. I made some interesting friends, had enough money to get around, and learned a lot about the world that I could never have learned in any other way."
“One part of the city looked like Tampa and the other part looked like a medieval asylum.”Paul Kemp
“A man never knows when his head might get twisted.”Yeamon
“Most people who deal in words don't have much faith 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.”Paul Kemp, thinking about Chenault telling him she's happy
“It was amusing to see how they handled it , because if they thought about it at all there was only one way out--to praise the ends an ignore the means, a time-honored custom that justifies almost anything except shrinking profits.”Paul Kemp on the bind the News found itself in having to not only work with the government but also criticize the creeping socialism
Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith 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.Highlighted by 55 Kindle customers
It was the tension between these two poles—a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other—that kept me going.Highlighted by 52 Kindle customers
“Happy,” I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood.Highlighted by 35 Kindle customers
I had a flash of something I hadn’t felt since my first months in Europe—a mixture of ignorance and a loose, “what the hell” kind of confidence that comes on a man when the wind picks up and he begins to move in a hard straight line toward an unknown horizon.Highlighted by 25 Kindle customers
Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right.Highlighted by 25 Kindle customers
The scene I had just witnessed brought back a lot of memories—not of things I had done but of things I failed to do, wasted hours and frustrated moments and opportunities forever lost because time had eaten so much of my life and I would never get it back. I envied Yeamon and felt sorry for myself at the same time, because I had seen him in a moment that made all my happiness seem dull.Highlighted by 23 Kindle customers
It occurred to me one evening, as I sat by myself in Al’s patio, that a man can live on his wits and his balls for only so long. I’d been doing it for ten years and I had a feeling that my reserve was running low.Highlighted by 22 Kindle customers
I sat there a long time, and thought about a lot of things. Foremost among them was the suspicion that my strange and ungovernable instincts might do me in before I had a chance to get rich. No matter how much I wanted all those things that I needed money to buy, there was some devilish current pushing me off in another direction—toward anarchy and poverty and craziness. That maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas Goat.Highlighted by 19 Kindle customers
Listening to him, I realized how long it had been since I’d felt like I had the world by the balls, how many quick birthdays had gone by since that first year in Europe when I was so ignorant and so confident that every splinter of luck made me feel like a roaring champion.Highlighted by 17 Kindle customers
Their voices set my teeth on edge. I have no valid complaint against hustlers, no rational bitch, but the act of selling is repulsive to me. I harbor a secret urge to whack a salesman in the face, crack his teeth and put red bumps around his eyes.Highlighted by 13 Kindle customers
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