Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
A Violent Slug of Perspective
am 11. Januar 1999
The Rum diary by Hunter S. Thompson is about San Juan in the late 1950's. The protagonist/author/narrator, Paul Kemp, finds himself on this Caribbean Island eating time and working for a newspaper run by "an ex -communist called Lautermen." The novel contains much of the mad flamboyant drinking shenanigans that Thompson is famous for, yet unlike his more famous work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where the comedy is tied to the narrators beastliness, The Rum Diary hints at the associated tragedy and pain caused by the narrator's weakness for pleasure.
The classic Thompson characters are present. In The Rum Diary, viscous cabbies, swine, intolerable scoundrels, mutterers, and rotten old bastards line the pages like glue. Yet here, Thompson has fabricated a classic novel. With compactness and dexterity, he has constructed every scene, every dialogue, to reveal the secrets of the novel's conclusion. With strange fits of madness and carefully recorded dialogue, Thompson reveals just enough about the innards of the cast to make the story work.
The signature of this novel is in its tunnel vision. The characters encountered are not full, realistic people who evoke the empathy of the reader. Thompson concentrates on their cartoonish attributes, leaving the rest of their character to the broad sweep of generalization. The tiny and important details of each character appear in full, clear, detail while the rest of their personality gets blurred away in the surrounding corners of vision. This style of characterization allows the reader to experience the occurrences of the novel with the same, detached feeling of desperation that the author seems to have. Thompson never even attempts to explain his characters. The closest we come to an explanation is in his description of himself:
" Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser."
When someone gets drunk and starts raising hell with a local shopkeeper, we take it in stride. The reader is given a heightened sense of the strangeness of the world because he is never given enough information by the author to understand the motives behind the character's actions. Thus, seemingly every thing happens without reason, without motive, without explanation. The reader shares a feeling that the state of affairs is nothing more than absolute absurdity. Every action seems crazy because the actors are impossible to understand.
"They served the rum in paper flagons, a chunk of ice and a violent slug of rum to each one."
The Rum Diary is a brief chunk of consciousness. The rum turns violent, as short, crowded scenes and an impending loss of control build the tension of the climax. While some may criticize this book for what it is not, I think the novel should be read for it's watery, liquid prose and it's unique approach to conventional structure.