There are folks who enjoy reading Hunter Thompson’s work and are happy to leave it there. Then there are those who want more. More being a need to know as much about Hunter’s process as possible, the nitty-gritty, who helped him? Who influenced him? Call them freaks if that’s your pleasure, Gonzo freaks. I’m one. We are out there. Unashamedly. And we love to see new HST-related stuff.
Margaret A. Harrell showed up to tell me about her new book Keep This Quiet: My Relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert. Due for release 15th October.This is no ordinary book about or including Thompson. It’s a memoir detailing personal relationships with three authors, the main focus being on Hunter. I’m going to focus on the HST part but must stress that this book, as a memoir is quite deep and holds the door open for the reader. While Hunter is a huge selling point, the book has the legs to stand alone.
Margaret worked with Hunter as his copy editor (for Random House) on none other than Hell’s Angels, his first book. According to Hunter she was the best copy editor he’d ever worked with. The Gonzo freaks among us will remember her getting hefty mentions in Fear and Loathing in America. I’d (needlessly) be inclined to ask myself where does one go from there? Lots of places as it turns out. Harrell clearly had an impact on Hunter, and witnessed the unfolding of the Gonzo legacy. What gives this book more pull is that until now Harrell has never published a word about Hunter. She says The two other males in this book, I’ve written about in the past but not Hunter. Never Hunter. I write this book, triggered by his death.
And so she wrote. Looking at the picture of Margaret on the back cover and the few inside she strikes me as being an innocent sort. Butter wouldn’t melt for want of a better phrase. Their relationship firstly developed by letter and phone. Yes, on their first face-to-face meeting it would seem she was nervous but as things progressed we learn that she has indeed a reinforced spine, and ample psychological finesse, both of which I believe must have been most important when dealing with Hunter S. Thompson, at the same time I must not belittle the mutual care and respect that developed between them. And there I shall leave that subject. It must be read to be appreciated.
As well as tales from William Kennedy, David Pierce and others we are treated to correspondence from Oscar Acosta, and letters from Hunter we’ve never seen before. The well known Blue Indigo snake story is clarified. Margaret was one of the first to read the Rum Diary. There are loads of HST tidbits and stuff I’d never have thought would be in this book. It would be hard to keep going without giving anything away. So you must buy it to know more.
I remember saying to William McKeen a couple of years ago that I’d be happy if we were done with stuff written about HST for the reason that I felt the subject had been beaten to death. He disagreed and was right. I’m glad this came along. Its all new and a valuable addition to my collection and strangely enough it makes a great companion to McKeen’s Outlaw Journalist.
It has been a while since I have learned new stuff about Hunter Thompson. I feel refreshed. It was a pleasure to read and it was an honor for me to be among the first to read it. Highly recommended.