Booze, women, drugs


Many journalists wish they could live like Paul Kemp, one of Hunter S. Thompson's most famous literary semi-heroes.

He gets up at noon, swims in the ocean to search for lunch, writes for about 30 minutes a day and drinks with the same insatiable vigor as Thompson.

Thompson was 22 years old when he wrote the Rum Diary, set in 1950s San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is the sordid tale of a young man trying to figure it all out.

Kemp is an aging twenty-something in search of something better. During his brief stint as a reporter for quite possibly the worst newspaper created, Kemp ends up more lost and confused than when he left New York in search of adventure.

Thompson has an energetic way of weaving Kemp's life as a torrid affair throughout the novel and an even better way of exploring the myriad conditions of the human spirit.

Thompson is able to capture what it is like to gallivant wildly through life, always searching for something better.

Kemp works aimlessly to stay intoxicated, well-fed on scrambled eggs and lobster, and his lone pursuit is charming women.

He finds out the hard way what life is really about during this turbulent time period in Puerto Rican history.

Thompson explores the ugly side of human nature as Kemp's demeanor and well-being deteriorate after he gets sucked into a world of booze, women and drugs.

The Rum Diary is full of daily entries of Kemp's attempts to score rum, even if it is served warm and chased with beer.

It is a fast and bizarre read that will leave you wondering whether much of Kemp's personality and experiences are based on those of Thompson.

Although most of the book seems to be a dark look at the world of journalism and life in general, there are moments of hilarity that keep Kemp moving as a tragic jester. He ambles through life with a dark sense of humor that barely keeps him above water and gets him in interesting situations, such as being arrested, selling his writing skills to his nemesis and dating his best friend's girlfriend.

The Rum Diary is a fabulous look at 1950s Puerto Rico as well as a harsh but true look into the muddled life of a journalist gone awry.


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