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, there are 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.
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. "It was a gold rush," says the author. "There were naked people everywhere and we all had credit."
"His style is less hallucinatory and exclamatory than it later became, but the groundwork is there." (
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