Jan. 18, 2015

These Notes are getting so long I will probably switch over to blogging. So look for updates mostly in the blog. However, one observation. I just saw the Gonzo fist in the most unlikely – or likely – place. In the Paris freedom parade. The fist was carrying a pen.

The 2014  Gonzo Fest Louisville


It’s May 2, 2014. I’ve been remiss. Below are some photos from the Gonzo Fest in Louisville:

At Carmichael's - GonzoFest
























At Carmichael’s Bookstore with Ron Whitehead and Jim Mohan, just before my presentation  there






Frank Messina, a night of music and poetry.




























Reporter Nick Storm behind the camera; Nick was the official photographer for the Gonzo Fest. Up front is Bradley James Weber, who won the literary contest of the festival for the first chapters of a book in progress, Fear and Loathing of the Undead.




Hunter’s boyhood home, not far from the famous Cherokee Park

Margaret Harrell At Hunter Thompson's Boyhood Home
Margaret Harrell At Hunter Thompson’s Boyhood Home

May 19

Check out the Q & A Martin Flynn has just posted here.

I am very honored to see the beautiful display he created and the kind words of introduction. The Q & A adds insights that his questions brought out. He is a marvelous interviewer and every Hunter Thompson fan should know his site. I also like what he does with visuals. Always a splashy page. Much for the eye.







April 10

Excerpt from Mindquest Review:

“Harrell’s rapturous experiences with Thompson and her transformative journey toward wholeness intelligently propel her literary presentation through and beyond literary boundaries.”

Many thanks. I hope these reviews keep coming.

February 8

Here’s a widget I’m trying out. If you click it, the Goodreads page comes up.

Margaret A. Harrell’s books on Goodreads

January 20

Marty Flynn is in with a review and it’s very very gratifying that he sums the book up under “risktaking”:

“In this book Margaret goes an extra few steps to open her heart and lay bare. Having read the first volume the line was baited. Her words were jangling on the hook. I couldn’t help but bite and from the first few pages she reeled me in. Before long I’m immersed in her world. It looked to me like a world filled with constant risk. The risk being getting hurt, not physically but…. Hurt in love if you like.. Imagine laying one’s self prostrate before someone, not knowing how things will roll. Margaret did it then with her lovers. And she’s doing it now in the sense of opening her heart to her readers. I was somewhat taken aback with her honesty..

“My blurb for this book (which is on the back cover, and is an honor for me to have it there) pretty much sews it up.. She used titillation, and a masterful way of revealing herself to build engrossment, starting with Keep This Quiet! ANY thinking, living person will be locked in from the beginning. A knowledge of the three men is not a must. She oozes sexuality, sensuality and I believe these traits go towards interweaving the three men. I believe it to be spellbinding. A hot sweaty tango of words. The bottom line is this. Not many books fulfill my reading needs. By this I mean covering a range of emotion.

“Without wanting to sound trite and saccharine all I can say is it’s a fantastic read. There’s more of HST in it. And that is reason alone for his fans to buy it.. Having said that.. This book is for everyone.. Thanks Margaret.”

December 13

If you live in or near Raleigh, there’s a Wonderland Book Club meeting 10 a.m. January 25, 2013 – the Center for Excellence (3803-B Computer Drive,  Suite 106). This month Keep This Quiet! is the featured book and I’ll be presenting a program with plenty of audience participation – also some Hunter Thompson memorabilia. You are all invited. It’s free. I look forward to seeing you there.

October 14

Some more hurdles past. The HST-cover-image file – of a beautiful photo by Alan Becker (Alan Becker Photography in Aspen)  – has finally arrived in high resolution. The file is gigantic. 31×41. 353 gigabytes. The cover designer now has it in hand to insert. She’ll soon be designing the back cover with her usual flair – just has to know the spine dimensions, which should be ready next week. Then it’s practically to the races.

There have been a lot of hold-your-breath moments. However, all seems to be flowing now. More as it unfolds. I will get the page proofs back this coming week. Yea. Then I’ll read the whole thing; have only read it piecemeal these last months.

I began writing Keep This Quiet! / Keep This Quiet Too! in early 2005. By 2010 they were both drafted, and I split off Keep This Quiet! as a separate book, finishing that up in 2011. In 2012 I completely rewrote the second part of the memoir, now named Keep This Quiet Too! It picks up in 1970, where Keep This Quiet! ends, and goes through 1985. But it has two chapters on Hunter in 1991. That’s the surprise end.

October 5

The countdown begins. Barnes & Noble, as it did  before the publication of Keep This Quiet! has just put Keep This Quiet Too! on preorder at a 33% discount. I am immensely pleased that they are entering it at such a low price. The display is so new it doesn’t even have a cover photo up yet. I say it’s on countdown, to have the book ready and its account with Ingram ready for the Dec. 1 pub date. It’s in interior design now. The book should certainly be ready. But Ingram can go slow in getting accounts ready. With Keep This Quiet! it all  came down to the wire. But in the end, everything went without a snag.


Women Empowerment & Relationships are going up in the Search Engines. Luckily, a lot of readers are finding this of interest in Keep This Quiet! – in addition to those who read it for news of Hunter. Certainly, these themes run through Keep This Quiet! II, which is about to have its cover designed. It’s titled More Adventures with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert. And it takes place in the U.S., Morocco, and Zurich.

The above photo is from the time I met Hunter S. Thompson. The Keep This Quiet! I cover photo of Hunter, he gave me while Hell’s Angels was being copy edited, or just after. He handwrote his age, 25, with a few words, on the back.

Below, jumping over many years, are current notes about my new Hunter Thompson memoir – people involved with/in the first volume.

“KEEP THIS QUIET! a memoir: My Relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert by Margaret A. Harrell is a masterpiece! I never expected to say that about a memoir yet as I say it memories of so many other great works of creative non-fiction autobiographies memoirs etc start flooding in, works by Mark Twain and Walt Whitman and Frederick Douglass and Knut Hamsun and Marcel Proust and Cora Sandel and James Joyce and Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway and Zora Neale Hurston and Thomas Merton and Jack Kerouac and David Amram and Hunter S. Thompson and Diane di Prima and Bob Dylan and well the list is endless. And I see clearly that Margaret A. Harrell’s KEEP THIS QUIET! a memoir stands shoulder to shoulder with the greatest works of alltime. And I hear that volume 2 is on the way. How fortunate we are! Bravo Margaret A. Harrell! Thank You!!!”

Ron Whitehead, outlaw poet and damn proud to be

Jump to front page of website

Jump to Orders and Reviews

Jump to a photo of Hunter from 1991

Buy from Amazon

June 24

The Kindle version of Keep This Quiet! went on sale today for $2.99. Temporarily. As a test of how it sells. Take advantage while it lasts and maybe I’ll keep the price that low.

Over at Duke University, where I’m one of the alumnae, I got a call from the office of Duke Magazine for a cover file so they could mention KTQ! in their next issue. Very nice person I talked to. Evidently the staff there likes Hunter – all of them. Meanwhile, KTQ! 2 is moving along – being read by people, who so far say it’s ready for publication. Still, it will be some months before it’s out – hopefully sometime in 2012.

June 14

The new special issue of LJS, Literary Journalism Studies, just arrived in yesterday’s mail. William McKeen is the guest editor. Not only has he written his own essay, “The Two Sides of Hunter S. Thompson.” Correction: “at least two sides”: the cartoon character and the writer. He’s selected a fine handful of colleagues to write articles on Hunter the writer. More on that as I read the issue. He’s also created a bibliography that includes “Books Featuring Hunter S. Thompson.” In the list are all the books in which Hunter plays a role: books like David Amram’s Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat and Norman Mailer’s The Fight. It’s a handy list for anyone looking for material on Hunter.

About Keep This Quiet! he says, “Thompson loved Harrell’s work as the line editor on Hell’s Angels and she here details the nature of their relationship.” What a neat way to put it. Anyway, I would certainly recommend buying this journal, if you ever find it for sale.

June 6

Don’t miss  the upcoming Chatham County Library event Wednesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. You can read about it here. It’s to introduce my memoir while celebrating Hunter’s birthday. It should be quite momentous, with all that sentiment around the fact that it’s his birthday. At least, very special to me.

April 2

Rain Taxi Review of Books has a beautiful review by W. C. Bamberger here. Bamberger is an author and professor, whose latest novel is a science-fiction e-book: A Llull in the Compass.

Below is an excerpt from his review of Keep This Quiet!

“Keep This Quiet!—an admonition from one of Thompson’s letters—tells the tale of Harrell’s intertwined relationships with these three men from 1965 to 1969. (A second volume is in progress.) She remains Klonsky’s intellectual student, Mensaert’s correspondent in an orchid-ripe Romantic exchange, and lustily dons a mini-skirt and garter belt to fly to L.A. to be with Thompson when he calls.

“Thompson dominates the book once he enters. Harrell relates anecdotes, clears up historical falsehoods (some perpetuated by Thompson himself, such as the truth about the death of his Blue Indigo snake), and includes a number of previously unpublished letters from Thompson. Stories include nights spent carousing with San Francisco’s mayor, and a momentous day in Thompson mythology,” . . . which  was Hunter’s first time “in costume . . . bizarre sunglasses and a cowboy hat, his first.” As Keep This Quiet! reported, Bill Kennedy called this a “new persona” for Thompson, “the costume element of his outrageousness. ”

I am very indebted to Bill Bamberger for such an even-handed report, in which he tried to capture – and did – all three male protagonists and how they fit into the zeitgeist of the times. Thanks, Bill Bamberger.

February 18

Kirkus Indie Reviews recommends KTQ to a specific audience: “Memoir will likely please Hunter S. Thompson fans and appeal to readers with an interest in the beginnings of the post-modern era or the personal sacrifices involved in bringing serious written work to fruition.” This is good. The reviewer notes that “the reader comes to feel an affinity with the trio of writers in their attempts to achieve their iconoclastic visions of success, glimpsing them as individuals beyond their work, seeing how they think. Their genius, for Harrell, consisted of their being wholly themselves.” I’m not sure “consisted of” is the right term: “depended on” might be better. “Grew out of.” What is the relationship between a person’s genius and that person’s being wholly himself/herself? Sometimes the word was “daimon,” as with Socrates. In any case, there is a close relationship between following your own drum and discovering  your unique gifts.  That would be because we don’t all have the same path or same reason to be here.

Kirkus implies that it might have been better to include more of the writing of the three. This is good as well, in that volume 2 does that. Volume 1 would have been hard pressed to because it covers only 4 years: those at the beginning of these writers’ careers. In fact, Hunter and Jan had their first book published a few months apart, and as Jan was in Morocco, writing in Dutch, I could not read his first book and he wasn’t here to translate. All that changed in later years, and so volume 2 has this opening to step into.

February 11

I am now through Question 2 with Kevin Ring’s interview for Beat Scene (March). He sends the questions to me individually, and I find them incredibly thought-provoking. Have to pay attention not to answer at too much length. Also, I just posted a small perspective on Raoul Duke/Hunter on HST for Beginners. Tell me what you think.

Feburary 5

I am in suspense today as to what the Charles Wheeler review of Keep This Quiet! say. It’s out in Greensboro, NC, in print. And I’ll only get to read it later this week.

Meanwhile, Kevin Ring, the publisher of Beat Scene, a highly respected print magazine in England, has begun asking me questions for an interview in the March issue. The first question was about an obscure paragraph – just one – at the beginning of the book. As I answered it, a whole article began to emerge. One that’s not in the book, making a couple of connections that perhaps some readers of Keep This Quiet! made but few. I can’t reveal what emerged, but if the questions go on like this, then I’m in the hands of a real master interviewer. Which is doubtless the case. In spite of its prominence in England, Beat Scene, when it was founded in 1988, was put together on Ring’s kitchen table. Today he is still pretty much a one-man operation.

January 3

Marty Flynn has totally revamped his site. Luckily for me, it still highlights Keep This Quiet! in a spectacular way, as an important resource for those interested in Hunter. I hope 2012 brings more such luck. The site he’s redesigned is outstanding. It’s “Hunter S. Thompson Books”

A resource and bibliography of Hunter S. Thompson’s Work By Marty Flynn

January 2, 2012!!

Paul Krassner, the irrepressible, irreverent satirist, former editor of The Realist and a member of the Counterculture Hall of Fame – which barely begins to introduce him – is doing a short piece on his role in Keep This Quiet! for High Times. He wrote me yesterday to ask, “Page 116, last graf: where you say ‘Then I passed,’ do you mean ‘Then I passed out’?” Very funny. No, that’s not what I meant. But I reread the passage – about blood going to my head – and I can see how he jumped to that interpretation. So who knows where his humor will take him.

Paul knew Hunter Thompson well. Soon after I met Hunter in person, he introduced me to Paul – over a Village bar or restaurant table – and the two began plotting an expose of Hunter’s press tour for The Realist (a magazine that, by the way, is now archived on line – with all issues available).

But back to the ill-fated expose. It would have been early Gonzo, no doubt, with Hunter at the center, surviving a harrowing book tour at the hands of the press and, more importantly, call-in talk-show or TV listeners, who had crazy questions lined up.

Perhaps it would have been an early “Kentucky Derby”-like piece, though there was no Ralph Steadman to capture the faces in mad sketches. It was not meant to be. But Krassner lives on, former Merry Prankster at heart, and investigative journalist, who first reported conspiracy theories about JFK’s death, thereby securing needed financial support from John Lennon. In the short Hunter Thompson-Paul Krassner-Margaret Harrell piece he’s writing, I hope he recalls his own memories and very thought-provoking life.

It’s a new year, and I renamed the site “Hunter Thompson Book” – for SEO reasons. My Keep This Quiet! interior designer, Bram Larrick, who also designs websites (but not this one), suggested it. He’s promised lots – even thousands – more visitors if I follow his huge list of things to do. Nice to dream.

**Late breaking follow-up: Paul Krassner is including  an enlarged version of his own “memoir” of what he calls “our story” from inside Keep This Quiet! – inside his expanded Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture. It will be out sometime in 2012. Glad to have reminded him of a lost piece of his memories – that fits right into his trademark  brand of wit.

December 28

Thanks to Beat Scene for linking to this site with a Keep This Quiet! coverin”Beat Scene News.”This is a very well thought of British publication. The editor writes: “For those who don’t know us – we are a paper magazine – 68 pages at present – devoted to the  Beat Generation and associated writers, artists, musicians and whomever. We have been publishing for nineteen years and the magazine has grown in that time. We consider it primarily an information magazine. We list addresses, web sites, publishers, etc. Consequently we try and publish interviews and features by and about those writers we rate highly.”

Jump to front page of website

Jump to Orders and Reviews

Jump to a photo of Hunter from 1991

Buy from Amazon

December 27

Just a few more days before 2012! I am discovering readers who are very interested in discussing “the art of “complicated relationships” – and there may be a local meetup soon with that focus: Keep This Quiet! being at the center. In a way, I think “the art of complicated relationships” is just taking into account that if we don’t hold onto people too tightly but let them be themselves, the relationship may have more twists and turns and subtleties and require us to stay on our toes. Anyway, this is a new readership I like having. It takes me back to my C. G. Jung Institute days in Zurich. Ah, Zurich.

December 18

Am preparing a thank-you copy of this book for Paul Krassner, which he is expecting. I hope he likes the book! And maybe reminds me of a forgotten anecdote, though I gather that on that long-ago meeting he, Hunter, and I had, he is fuzzy. No wonder. Meanwhile, he sent me his latest and I’ll post or summarize or extract.

December 17

Yesterday morning I got myself out of the house early – against the protests of my dog Hans, a mini-dachshund – for a book club. It was interesting. As a result, Keep This Quiet! will be the club’s January 2013 selection. Would I be available to speak? they asked. One whole year away. Absolutely!

It will be fun to see what readers discuss about KTQ: what they take away, what they like/dislike. Readers bring new ideas of who the audience is. Often a new opening or slant for volume 2 can result, in order to address a concern or underscore a point that suddenly came to light, pick up on where the excitement and energy of the reader is.

December 14

I never dreamed that publishing Keep This Quiet! would bring me so many – or any – new friends. First off are those who – total strangers before – began promoting KTQ. Standing out strongly at the front of the pack are Martin Flynn in Ireland (an HST expert, who publishes http://hstbooks.org), William McKeen of Outlaw Journalist and other fame (though I knew McKeen from earlier because of the book manuscript). And latest of all a wild poet/visionary, Ron Whitehead, an old friend of Hunter’s, whose words rush out like roaring thunder. I feel in the presence of spontaneous storm claps and unstoppable torrents of observation in the few emails he’s written me, offering to promote KTQ to high heaven. And seen and unseen places far and wide.

A million thanks to all three, who did their best to get the book off to a fast start. Marty has kept it advertised in a banner headline on his site since it first came out. And the site is gorgeous to behold, with much hard-to-find information.

I also have a briefer encounter with Rory Feehan, of Totally Gonzo in Ireland, who promises a review of KTQ and is finishing his dissertation. Sounds like a fascinating topic. Can’t wait to read it in book form. Then there’s W. C. Bamberger, author of novels and many nonfiction books and essays – and a Blake scholar. I know only that he may do a review. Whoppee. He’s a fan of Milton Klonsky.

Additionally, there’s  the editor of Beat Scene – in England. These last – as etiquette has it – keep their thoughts private in the meantime, only telling me that their impression is positive and a possible review – or in some cases definite review – is in the pipes. Observing the etiquette of not discussing the review content. And more is up in the air. Time will soon tell. What a Christmas gift. All these positive energies and kindnesses and genuine things in common coming out of the woodwork.

December 11

Hint: If you buy Keep This Quiet! for i-Pad, some of the 27 illustrations will be in color. All of the HST signature drawings will. I recommend buying the iPad version in iPad, not a Kindle app, because the designer transferred the 27 images individually into the iPad file, resized to fit the iPad page. I don’t think an app can do this mechanically, as before the designer made the adjustments, the illustrations sometimes broke in the middle of the page. So we went to lengths to have the illustrations fall right. After all, the HST signature drawings – in color – bring alive the feel of the original letters.In reading on any device that offers color, I assume the color will come through well.

December 6

Christmas is the period that Hunter typically blazed into New York City in the late 60s, though the visit where I met him first in person was in February.

Jump to front page of website

Jump to Orders and Reviews

Jump to a photo of Hunter from 1991

Buy from Amazon

 December 6 (later)

Am reading Gonzo Republic. It will take quite some time. Interesting perspective. Also ordered New American Review 13 – one of the rare remaining copies – to read Milton Klonsky’s “Down in the Village: A Discourse on Hip; or, Watch Out for the Cynosure.” That is, North Star.)

December 4

In googling the internet, I came up with pleasant surprise – that Keep This Quiet! is displayed on the webpage of Firestorm Cafe and Books on Commerce Street in Asheville, NC. At Christmastime we can all lend a hand to our local Indy bookstores.

Hats off to them for this support.

Visit them here.

Firestorm is a wonderful cafe/store to browse. You can also dial (828) 255-8115 to purchase from them by phone.

If further east, over in Chapel Hill, try the IndieBound Flyleaf  books here.

December 1

It’s already that season again. And I came up with a simple gift list. It goes like this: give my book to your friends. Vote on “most helpful review.” And “Suggest a Book” at the local library’s website. And whenever Amazon.com raises the Keep This Quiet! price, as it periodically does, bombard their “tell us about a lower price” option – in the center of the display page – with the lower price at B & N. It works.

KTQ is now available on the whole array of e-book readers/tablets – in many European countries as well. In the case of the iPad, it’s available in 18 countries, including Canada and Australia. We carefully adapted the photos for the different size pages. Some of the 27 illustrations are in color – including Hunter’s signature sketches.


October 21

Just finished The Jim Engster show on NPR, which you can catch on podcast there. To access it, click on “Recently Added/The Jim Engster Show/11/21.”

The questions ranged from how affected Hunter was by RFK’s death to – a caller – how influenced he was by Hemingway. Have to be quick to think on your feet in those circumstances, and the old gray cells seemed to come through. I love it!!! At the end he brought in Hunter’s voice, and that topped everything off, to hear him “walk in” and speak. See for yourself and let me know if it’s interesting – any tips welcome.

October 14

Below is a review just posted on Amazon.com. I am thrilled to receive it. And thrilled to find myself encountering such diverse, interesting people as a result of this book:

“What a special gift to have the thoughts and feelings of this idealistic, intellectual young woman, on the cutting edge of the 60s, a time of great cultural change. Harrell’s sense of freedom and exuberance cannot be missed. She articulates the hopeful sense of possibility, excitement, and creativity special to people who were young during that time, and has not lost it.

“Margaret Harrell edited Hunter Thompson’s “Hells Angels,” meeting him as he was finding his power as a writer at 27. She was romantically involved with Hunter, and writes about their relationship, sharing many funny and telling incidents and their personal correspondence for the first time.

“Other people in Hunter’s milieu appear, and the setting moves from New York to California, and Europe. Two other innovative writers of the 60s who impacted her life, the Flemish poet Jan Mensaert, who would become her husband, and poet Milton Klonsky, are major figures in the book as well.

“–Simone Corday is the author of 9 1/2 Years Behind the Green Door: A Mitchell Brothers Stripper Remembers her Lover Artie Mitchell, Hunter S. Thompson, and the Killing that Rocked San Francisco.October 1”

October 1

I can at least say this is the publication month of the book. Yesterday for one brief day the book went live – forget the Oct. 15th official date. It was on sale for immediate shipping by Barnes & Noble and Amazon, though Amazon did not yet have the sales data and so had not discounted it (B & N had changed from the preorder discount of 32% to a few pennies less). I woke this morning, wondering if, by incredible, magical speed, Amazon would have straightened out all the technicalities and discounted it as well. But lo and behold! It was back to preorder on both sites. So I will wait in suspense. Any day now it could go live. And then again . . .

September 29

I have just sent away two copies of Keep This Quiet to a film maker who is going to the Gonzo Fest in Louisville, KY, on the 15th. As coincidence would have it, that’s the official pub date of this book. I can imagine him reading from a letter that Hunter wrote this very month eons ago, when he was trying to get Hell’s Angels to press.

He wrote back then, practically the first letter – from San Francisco:

Dear Margaret Ann—

It is now four hours and twenty minutes past the midnight deadline for my leaving this house, but I’m still here, sitting in a heap of boxes and debris….and working on this, my final effort, on what now seems to be a doomed book.

Naturally, it was not doomed. And no one will read that letter from the Gonzo Fest podium. But I just notice how exactly fitting it is that this book, with his words while preparing Hell’s Angels, winds up being winged there, to his hometown for his Fest on its pub date.

Nice planning, whoever did that. Hell’s Angels, by the way, still ranks high on Amazon.

September 25

My birthday. Yes, indeed. Yesterday the big Marty Flynn review came out. Hooray. And in the afternoon a package arrived, which I’m just about to open right in the middle of this paragraph. Back now. It’s a poster from Vegas: 28 x 24 inches. I stretched it out on the floor with weights to straighten it. It’s the image of Hunter with a suitcase. Vintage gonzo. Vintage Steadman. This should keep me smiling today.

September 3


Martin Flynn, from Ireland, put up a wonderful post about Keep This Quiet on his www.hstbooks.org. this week. As did William McKeen on his Outlaw Journalist Facepook page. Both are HST authorities and their plugs are generous and exciting.

Marty is a very cool guy. He also posted an announcement of William McKeen’s new book, Mile Marker Zero, about Key West in the 70’s: home to “a generation of artists – Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, Jimmy Buffett, Hunter Thompson and others.” Anything Bill McKeen writes is fascinating. The author of Outlaw Journalist, he’s a professor of journalism and a prolific  author, whose books typically get five stars on Amazon. I am very grateful to these two. I sent Bill McKeen the manuscript some months back, and he says he’s thinks Hunter’s fans “will appreciate this view of the man and his work.” Yah. Thanx.

August 9

A fan of Hunter’s, Chrissy, in “Inspiration from Doc,” quotes from an attachment to one of the published letters Hunter sent me (most are unpublished). The attachment was “John Wayne/Hammerhead Piece,” a few vintage HST pages about the Hammerhead Shark, a one-million-BC creature with no known ancestor or descendent.

But Hunter says science is wrong. The descendents “learned to speak American”; eventually, “the Hammerhead Ethic was the American Dream.” Whoops? “By 1960 John Wayne . . . had the whole Dream in his fists…. And it was just about then that the Duke took his gig to Vietnam.”

For anyone who wants to look further into this early, 1971, pre-Vegas rumble on the American Dream, see Gonzo Letters 2:243-439. It was written virtually contemporary with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, August 12, 1971.

The body of the letter announces, Vegas is almost finished.

And so it was.

July 31

I have reached the remarkable position of being able to see firsthand how memory distorts, words can become glib, eyewitness accounts be unwittingly embellished, all of which now passes for “spin.” But some of it is not intentional. To avoid holding inside, unrecorded, some of the history I have seen lived in front of my eyes, for which I have actual records – indisputable, because recorded at the time – and word-for-word notes, handwritten letters, my own little archive, I had only to turn it all into a book. And so I did.

The thing about writing a book about real people is that their lives are in your hands, so best not to stray from what actually happened. Here and there I would have liked to add lovely finishing touches, if only it had been a novel. Which is perhaps the value of gonzo, which invents straight up and tall – making the real-life story come to life, the lived reality unwrapped from its plastic, and people be required to get into the action.

To me it’s what we’re here for, to be authentic. When one is authentic, it’s often hard to judge at the time, because the ramifications are wide open.

Post-note to March 2011: The book was divided but came out first as a print book, with the e-book close following. Vol. 2, however, will take much longer than three extra months to come out.

March 2011

Through the next few months those of you who visit here will watch (and if you wish participate) as I pass through the tangles and potential crises of getting a book out to publication. Right now the question is whether to cut the book down the middle, into two e-books published 3 months apart. It makes sense. It would focus the audience tightly. The narrowly scoped first e-book would primarily cover only four years – Random House, New York City, the golden days of publishing, where Faulkner had slept on the couches some nights and currently one of the young, prized authors was Hunter S. Thompson, facing his book-publishing debut. If divided, the first volume would stop at a climactic point before the story moves to Morocco and finally Switzerland. It sounds like a good idea. But I’m waiting to see how it plays out, how practical it is to slash the book down the middle. It would open itself up to a much more interesting future, played out in stages, not just one step but two steps, with reader reaction in the intermezzo.