Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Rum Diary Hunter S. Thompson

After reading finally picking up Hunter S. Thomson's first novel, The Rum Diary, I can't help comparing him to JD Salinger (author of Catcher in the Rye). And I can't help wondering, why after numerous recommendations, I waited until he committed suicide to jump on the bandwagon and actually read one of his books instead of sitting around and talking about how cool he is/was.

But I wouldn't go and say that this novel is the greatest book I've read- unlike the aforementioned Catcher in the Rye. Its pretty close though. At the time he wrote this book, he was only 22 and just beginning to write. But the book is a great read, even if it has some obvious flaws, particularly at the end. I don't know if its because this is Thomson's first book and he merely had trouble finishing it without moving too fast ( a problem that seems to be common among first time novelists) or he does this with all his books, but I'm going to bet that it's the former rather than the latter.

That said, this book has a lot of things going for it. Its obvious that Thomson really identified with his characters and truly understood them. I don't know if this is because the novel draws from his own life or not (at the time he was living in San Juan writing for a newspaper there), but it doesn't really matter as they really come to life on the page. Thomson's style is excellent. He writes as if every word were true.

This book does an excellent job of describing the random destruction that the reckless drunkenness of the newsmen (and their women) accomplish. This is book about the consequences of living completely free, obsessed and consumed by whatever your current desires are.

I don't think I could do this book justice just by talking about it, so just go out and read it.

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