Paul Kemp, a journalist, finds himself on the island paradise of Puerto Rico, where everything is cheap and familiarly unfamiliar. The narrator himself went back and forth, unsure whether this was indeed paradise – or hell, veiled with sun rays and palm trees. And so, the reader, unsure whether to regard it as the one or the other, feels the same bewilderment as Kemp.
The characters constantly found themselves in trouble, but the reader would feel no sympathy as they have brought these problems upon themselves. They all drink too much, and care little for anything else to pull themselves out of their eternal drunken stupor. Kemp and the others often mention leaving, moving on, without real action. Though swearing the opposite, they seem rather content in wasting their lives away with no particular accomplishments – save for a few articles written for a dying newspaper.
The characters are incredibly one-dimensional. They are all caricatures, or maybe, because they are seen through Kemp, they only seem so. Was it his own shortcomings and prejudice that attributed to the lack of character development? Probably so.
I liked none of them; no one seemed to have any redeeming qualities, and the only thing they have in common is the hopelessness that permeates through and through.
That being said, The Rum Diary was written with extraordinary talent, as it easily and completely overwhelms its audience with the same desperation the characters experience.
And so, this book has me in limbo.
(Three out of five)
How did you like The Rum Diary?