Soon to be a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp, The Rum Diary-a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book-is Hunter S. Thompson's brilliant love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent lust in the Caribbean.
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.
"Crackling, twisted, searing, paced to a deft prose rhythm . . . A shot of Gonzo with a rum chaser." -San Francisco Chronicle
My apartment in New York was on Perry Street, a five minute walk from the White Horse. I often drank there, but I was never accepted because I wore a tie. The real people wanted no part of me.
I did some drinking there on the night I left for San Juan. Phil Rollins, who'd worked with me, was paying for the ale, and I was swilling it down, trying to get drunk enough to sleep on the plane. Art Millick, the most vicious cab driver in New York, was there. So was Duke Peterson, who had just come back from the Virgin Islands. I recall Peterson giving me a list of people to look up when I got to St. Thomas, but I lost the list and never met any of them.
It was a rotten night in the middle of January, but I wore a light cord coat. Everyone else had on heavy jackets and flannel suits. The last thing I remember is standing on the dirty bricks of Hudson Street, shaking hands with Rollins and cursing the freezing wind that blew in off the river. Then I got in Millick's cab and slept all the way to the airport.
I was late and there was a line at the reservations desk. I fell in behind fifteen or so Puerto Ricans and one small blonde girl a few places ahead of me. I pegged her for a tourist, a wild young secretary going down to the Caribbean for a two week romp. She had a fine little body and an impatient way of standing that indicated a mass of stored-up energy. I watched her intently, smiling, feeling the ale in my veins, waiting for her to turn around for a swift contact with the eyes.
She got her ticket and walked away toward the plane. There were still three Puerto Ricans in front of me. Two of them did their business and passed on, but the third was stymied by the clerk's refusal to let him carry a huge cardboard box on the plane as hand baggage. I gritted my teeth as they argued.
Finally I broke in. "Hey!" I shouted. "What the hell is this? I have to get on that plane!"
The clerk looked up, disregarding the shouts of the little man in front of me. "What's your name?"
I told him, got my ticket, and bolted for the gate. When I got to the plane I had to shove past five or six people waiting to board. I showed my ticket to the grumbling stewardess and stepped inside to scan the seats on both sides of the aisle.
Not a blonde head anywhere. I hurried up to the front, thinking that she might be so small that her head wouldn't show over the back seat. But she wasn't on the plane and by this time there were only two double seats left. I fell into one on the aisle and put my typewriter on the one next to the window. They were starting the engines when I looked out and saw her coming across the runway, waving at the stewardess who was about to close the door.
"Wait a minute!" I shouted. "Another passenger!" I watched until she reached the bottom of the steps. Then I turned around to smile as she came on. I was reaching for my typewriter, thinking to put it on the floor, when an old man shoved in front of me and sat down in the seat I was saving.
"This seat's taken," I said quickly, grabbing him by the arm.
He jerked away and snarled something in Spanish, turning his head toward the window.
I grabbed him again. "Get up," I said angrily.
He started to yell just as the girl went by and stopped a few feet up the aisle, looking around for a seat. "Here's one," I said, giving the old man a savage jerk. Before she could turn around the stewardess was on me, pulling at my arm.
"He sat on my typewriter," I explained, helplessly watching the girl find a seat far up at the front of the plane.
The stewardess patted the old man's shoulder and eased him back to the seat. "What kind of a bully are you?" she asked me. "I should put you off!"
I grumbled and slumped back in the seat. The old man stared straight ahead until we got off the ground. "You rotten old bastard," I mumbled at him.
He didn't even blink, and finally I shut my eyes and tried to sleep. Now and then I would glance up at
The Rum Diary" is a tangled love story in a Caribbean boomtown. The narrator, Paul Kemp, irresistibly drawn to a sexy, mysterious woman, is thrust into a world where corruption and get-rich-quick schemes rule, and anything--including murder--is permissible. In his signature tongue-in-cheek style, Thompson presents a dazzling, comedic romp. 225 pp. 100,000 print.