is one of my favorite books by me. Readers often tell me how much they like it. Yet it’s not nearly so well known as Keep This Quiet! The human story in it is complex, about four writers’ lives as they intermix with each other. Three very intelligent, fabulous males in all their complexity, spread across a continent and a globe, that I, in my “hub” in Morocco or leaving once a year for a month in the United States kept exciting ties with.
Just landed on New York City soil, for a brief stopover in New York, where did I go? Of course, unannounced, my feet took me down to West Fourth Street in the Village, walking the entire distance from midtown, telling myself I didn’t know where I was walking to. Of course, I knew. To Milton’s for my yearly indispensable feasting on his witticisms and steely analysis of whatever current predicament I found myself in in my marriage. His advice might be, when I bemoaned Jan’s suicidal tendencies,”Give him something to rise to. . . Or go down with him. But don’t be a bystander while this man commits suicide.” Never, that is, be a bystander in your life. Plunge into it. I always felt ten miles high, like Alice, after listening to such talk from an insider, who knew life through and through. And had the soul of a guru. With Hunter the attraction was something else. But deep and strong – and necessary – it was. And we often caught up on these trips to the States. Then back to Morocco, to my primitive sunny lifestyle there. Temporary, I always knew. But temporary was lonjg. Fourteen years of Oum Kalthoum, and Jacques Brel, and of course Mozart, all Jan’s favorites. And I forget Piaf.
“A passionately written memoir that doesn’t sit around being fit and proper and straight laced . . . As a key to the lives of these three writers it is idiosyncratic and in age where blandness is the norm, it is a pleasure to go on her journey and find out a little about what made these men tick and what drove her to them – Eric Jacobs” – Beat Scene print magazine (UK) # 70
Click here for a short YouTube video with some art and drawings by Jan during our life in Morocco.
In this sequel to Keep This Quiet! Margaret relocates to Morocco with her exotic, fascinating, unstable Belgian poet husband, Jan Mensaert. Living in villages, she adopts the local lifestyle of cooking on charcoal and shops for fresh groceries daily with a basket in open air markets. But the main focus is on her encounters with the three male protagonists, “outlaw” authors one and all, brilliantly creative and with the personalities that match. In once-yearly trips to the United Statets, she re-energizes on a diet of one-liner advice, deeply digested and wise, from genius-poet Milton Klonsky. This, she reports to the reader, magically as if her mind were a tape recorder. She also gets Gonzo updates from Hunter Thompson – two relationships that never lose their hold or significance, even necessity. From Morocco, to Belgium, to Switzerland, and the United States, Margaret pits wits with – learns from – and grows through these rare, close – sometimes romantic – relationships with men who exemplify authenticity. At one point, trying desperately to find her, Hunter writes, “Dear Margaret, Where are you and why? I’ve lost track completely. My last definite word was from a toilet-hole in Algiers.” He wants her to work on his next manuscript. This is 1971. Moving from 1970 (Belgium/a Cairo honeymoon) to 1986 (the Jung Institute Zurich), the book ends up fittingly at Hunter’s Owl Farm. Where else could the last two chapters take place? There, she reintroduces herself to Hunter. In fine form, he is trying to take the romance to the next level.
Actually, they both are intent on it.
“Margaret A. Harrell has done it again. In her brutally compassionately explicitly honest second autobiography KEEP THIS QUIET TOO! Harrell manages to repeatedly pull the rug out fromunder the reader. She travels from North Carolina to New York City to Morocco to Belgium to India toSwitzerland to Owl Farm, and many other places,…in search of her self. From depth psychology to dream analysis tohangoutologies to ecstatic love making to out of body astral travels to spirit guides, adventures andmisadventures, she is guided and guides herself ever homeward to her own heart and soul. Margaret A. Harrell’snew, second, autobiography, like volume one, is a masterpiece.” – Outlaw Poet Ron Whitehead
“Keep THIS Quiet Too! is a real-life saga of living and learning with eyes and ears open. At times adventurous, at times sensual, Keep This Quiet Too! hinges upon the complexities of human relationships, especially the challenges posed by the heart-wrenching feelings of love that may or may not be fully requited. Highly recommended.” – Midwest Book Review
“An honest and unflinching examination of the choices we make.” – San Francisco Book Review
Click for another short video of Spanish dances and honkeytonk composed by Jan Mensaert, played at his fast pace. A deeply artistic personality with all the drawbacks that can go with it. And the ebullient upside.
I love this piano music. Jan was a natural entertainer, but if you ever wanted to meet an artist in your life, he was the consummate artist. That’s one of the main reasons I was attracted to him.
A cameo appearance comes in from 1990, Willy Van Luyten, my boyfriend at the time, who also got roped into the drama of my life as it unfolded on a spiritual level at this point.
A short video clip taken from Nick Storm’s videography of my first presentation at the Louisville Gonzofest. This one is on first meeting Hunter. Need I say more?
Hunter Thompson at ranch 1991, where the book ends