which recently celebrated its 50th birthday, is hosting the Launch of the hard cover deluxe edition of The Hell’s Angels Letters: Hunter S. Thompson, Margaret Harrell and the Making of an American Classic all during the month of July! Coming soon! If you are in San Francisco, drop by and see the exhibit. The live events I will participate in, and Ron Whitehead and Grant Goodwine will occur during the week of July 15 – 19, with a grand crescendo, I expect, on July 18, Hunter’s birthday. We just picked up the plan from 2020 and moved it – expanded – to 2021. More details as they open up. If you want an invitation, please let us know, as room is limited. If you have any Hunter Thompson memorabilia you want us to exhibit on the walls, let us know. I will pass that to the curator of the exhibit, Charles Cunningham, man of many hats (he is also the publisher, with a strong artistic bent). If you happen to have anything you want to let us exhibit on loan or anything we can include in the hard cover that is rare HST memorabilia, we will be ecstatic.
Elizabeth Upton has mastered the art of simplicity and peace. She inspires us, in a sentence, to stop and reflect, slow down, take a deep breath, be Present.
In this book, Elizabeth Upton has written a collection of insights that are simple and profound. They lead the reader to stop and ponder, sit and reflect. “Being Real,” “Life Needs Fixing,” and “Bored to Death,” among other chapters, tell us “It is always time to Gather Your Nerve and Live.” She says: “Listen and pause to the life of your mind. Listen and pause to your heart beating in your body with your every step, that offers you deeper understanding of who you are.”
Among Upton’s defining life experiences, she was a nun in a convent for twenty years and also conquered a mysterious disease twice. A deep, abiding compassion gives the author the ability to walk with the reader during our most challenging experiences.
Join Margaret with Alice Osborn and Larry Perkins at the Writing Your Legacy panel at the Fifth Annual Carolina Book & Writer Conference virtually on Zoom February 13 at 10:30 a.m. Get a HUGE DISCOUNT by using the code Margaret21.
What is your legacy? How do you determine it? How do you write it? When should you start? Join Margaret, Alice and Larry for top-notch presentations and Q & A on this. And also check out the other panels, available this conference on the same ticket. Be sure to use my code: margaret21 for a huge discount.
Calling all messengers! It’s time to live your dream and share your truth. We know you have a story to tell. Join 26 talented presenters at the Carolina Book & Writer Conference to ignite that dream.
Receive inspiration along with expert answers to an abundance of questions about writing, publishing, and promoting your story. This year is our fifth annual writer’s conference, and we have so many amazing panelists and two fantastic keynote speakers! For the first time, CBWC will be a two-day event, February 13 and 14, 2021. Join us on Zoom to learn more about marketing and sales secrets, romance writing, young adult and children’s fiction, editing and publishing, sharing your legacy through autobiographies and memoirs, diversity writing, and leveraging your book through film, audio books, and more.
Attendees will have a full year of access to all the videos from the conference, so don’t worry if you miss one of the panels.
See what our gifted experts have to say to help you on your journey of becoming a successful author. Listen to powerful keynote presentations from North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green and from Adonal Foyle, former NBA player and author of eight books! Enjoy “office hours” to get to know our panelists and ask questions.
Sign up now on the CarolinaBWC website. To get your early bird discount ticket, use this code when you register: __margaret21_________. (Full price is $197, so be sure to add the discount code for $100 off!)
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Watch this panel at 10 p.m. – 11:15 p.m. October 23rd Las Vegas time or watch it later online at the Las Vegas Book Festival. It’s very lively and fun, with panelists – besides me – Juan F. Thompson, Tim Denevi, and Rory Patrick Feehan. And tell me what you think! An honor to participate.
Faces in Sun Blast, a Film (not digital) photograph of a cloud scene, has been selected for the International Prize “New York City” October 21 – 24, 2020.
Looking at the cloud photograph, which I took in Belgium in the late 1990s, when I took several rolls of these sky images every day, then sorted out which ones to later have professionally scanned, I see painting-like scenes in patches. Isolated areas where a “painter” set up an easel and made a work of art. Only, it happened in the clouds. Also, before snapping the image, I did some intentional staring meditatively. For me, this brought it into focus. This image is the cover of a book in progress – very short – by me on cloud artwork, its history, its effect on me, with examples of painting-like clouds.
The event takes place at The WHITE SPACE Gallery CHELSEA (555 West Street N.Y.). The Italian art curators sponsoring the event, Salvatore and Francesco Saverio Russo, are going ahead in spite of Covid. And so they must have a plan. My work is on video display. Other painters, sculptors, photographers, video makers, performers, graphic designers, stylists, also included in the event, may have full-size paintings or other artwork or may present on video. The curators write:
New York brings together the best of art, design, architecture and music of all the world. A place of dreams and emblem of the “new world,” New York is a symbol of travel overseas, of different cultures and styles that meet every day in its frenetic and very rich extra-ordinary daily life.
Besides the video exposure of Faces in Star Burst at the White Space Chelsea Gallery, October 21 – 24, 2020, the cloud giclee film photograph will be displayed in the Italian magazine Art International Contemporary Magazine in the September/October issue. And in an exhibit catalog “The Stars of Contemporary Art.”
The eminent reviewer for the Washington Post Michael Dirda has just given a Big Head’s Up to The Hell’s Angels Letters: Hunter S. Thompson, Margaret Harrell and the Making of an American Classic in his October 8, 2020, write-up about it inside a piece called “Can’t get enough Game of Thrones or Star Wars? New editions on cult favorites are here to satisfy.
Among late 20th-century American writers, none can rival Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson in sheer force of personality, both on the page and in person. Mailer, whether in his fiction, polemical essays or reportage, always aimed to be consequential, to be fiercely engaged with his times. Would that he were living now! For a hint of what we’ve lost, check out the latest book-length issue, Volume 13, of “The Mailer Review” at the home page of The Norman Mailer Society. Thompson’s motto might well have been “Nothing in moderation.” For “The ‘Hell’s Angels’ Letters,” Margaret Ann Harrell — in collaboration with Ron Whitehead — has assembled a dossier of all her correspondence with Thompson during the time she worked as the editor of the gonzo writer’s “strange and terrible saga of the outlaw motorcycle gangs.” Typed manuscript pages, scribbled notes, photographs, interviews and all sorts of period ephemera relating to “Hell’s Angels” allow the reader a valuable, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of this classic of New Journalism.
Buy only at the publisher’s website here.
In case you missed it, there’s a Gonzo Today review of The Hell’s Angels Letters Letters by Kyle K. Mann, Editor-in-Chief. It opens like this:
This is a big book, literally and figuratively. The short version:
The Hell’s Angels Letters is a must-have text for any Hunter S. Thompson fan. Lavishly documented and illustrated with the actual correspondence that led to the publication of his breakthrough literary effort, ‘Hell’s Angels,’ this coffee-table book literally shows how HST boot-strapped his way from a impoverished nobody journalist to growing legend. The author, Margaret Harrell, who was Thompson’s editor on his inaugural book, and her collaborator, Thompson’s friend and associate poet Ron Whitehead, have succeeded brilliantly to create a fabulous present for you, or anyone in your life who admires Thompson’s numerous achievements. It is not inexpensive, but no matter, it’s worth every penny. The Hell’s Angels Letters: Hunter S Thompson, Margaret Harrell and the Making of an American Classic gets five stars out of five! Bravo!
Editor’s note: One can only buy a copy of the book via the publisher, Norfolk Press. The link: https://norfolkpress.com/the-hells-angels-letters-hunter-s-thompson-margaret-harrell-and-the-making-of-an-american-classic-margaret-harrell/
The long version:
I was delighted to get the package at the Topanga Post Office from Ron. I got it home and opened it eagerly. As I flipped through the pages, I was astounded to see typewritten and even handwritten letters from HST. Beyond amazing! But, how the freaking hell am I going to review it?
It sat on my desk for weeks, demanding attention. I found myself resentful as the days went by… what am I doing with this monstrosity? I’d open it and recoil due to the intensity of HST’s personality, roaring off the page. I tried getting stoned and looking anew, but nope, way too heavy to digest and analyze in that state. Yet, Ron had sent it to me to review, and I knew our Gonzo Today readers wanted, even needed, to get my take.
To continue reading, click here.
AMFM Magazine: The Voice of the Artist
Margaret, the new book is published, THE HELL’S ANGELS LETTERS: HUNTER S. THOMPSON, MARGARET HARRELL AND THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC. Grant Goodwine, a protégé of Ralph Steadman, did the cover artwork. Could you tell us about this? How did the whole project come about?
Margaret Harrell: It was a series of coincidences—or unlikely events—from start to finish, beginning with the existence of the letters themselves from Hunter Thompson to me, without which there would have been no book, no record of the story. The journey reminds me of pataphysica (“absurd irony”), a word made famous by French symbolist Alfred Jarry. The letters existed because Random House editor-in-chief Jim Silberman, who assigned me to copy edit Hunter’s first book, Hell’s Angels, broke with protocol. Normally, I would have done the copy editing, gotten Jim’s approval, then invited the author to fly to New York City and sit side by side with me to go over the suggestions and penciled marks on his manuscript for a day, or day by day for a week. Just for Hunter, Jim canceled that procedure. So we had to communicate by letter and phone. Then, when I left Random House, I took the letters with me. I won’t go over the ironic coincidence that came up there. Next, they endured FIFTY YEARS—in acidic paper—while I lived in four countries, including Morocco. Fortunately, they were not in my carry-on stolen at the Carey shuttle terminal in New York and were not in my storage that got overrun with fire ants in North Carolina.
So, basically, for years while I lived outside the US—in Morocco, in Switzerland, in Belgium—the letters survived transport and storage, as if they were charmed with an order not to disintegrate or disappear. By the time Hunter died, in 2005, I’d just relocated back to the U.S. He died, coincidentally on February 20, 2005, and I’d first met him in person February 20, 1967, when he had come to New York to start his Hell’s Angels book tour. Soon after he died I (with butterflies) contacted Doug Brinkley, the Estate literary executor, and he knew who I was (Hunter had told me), so he allowed me to excerpt from my letters in a memoir called Keep This Quiet! My Relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert (2011). I knew no one in the Gonzo community, but this book opened the door, and in 2014, I first spoke at the Louisville Gonzofest, by invitation of Ron Whitehead, the poet-performer-scholar who is the collaborator on this Letters book. That opened more doors. . . .
Remember that The Hell’s Angels Letters: Hunter S. Thompson, Margaret Harrell and the Making of an American Classic is ONLY available for purchase at the publisher’s website: https://norfolkpress.com. Or check it out here: https://thompson.norfolkpress.com
Above is Dr. Rory Patrick Feehan at the Gonzofest 2019 exhibit at the Louisville Speed Museum. Rory spoke at the August 28 Wonderland Book Club meet.
It was a blast, the panelists and audience agreed. You can see it here on YouTube.
Wonderland book club, founded in 2008 by poet, musician, writing coach, and editor Alice Osborn, held a Zoom discussion of Hunter Thompson and the new book, The Hell’s Angels Letters: Hunter S. Thompson, Margaret Harrell and the Making of an American Classic August 28. Here is the description of the event.
It brought together an authoritative, amazing panel of Hunter Thompson scholars and authors in their own right, professors at prestigious universities and friends of Hunter, all in one wrap: Peter Richardson, William McKeen, Dr. Rory Patrick Feehan, and Ron Whitehead. Read about the event at the link above.
Wonderland Book Club is co-sponsored by the NC Writers Network. Panelists include:
- Ron Whitehead, who collaborated on the book and is the founder of the Louisville Gonzo Fest. Ron is a poet, a former professor, a speaker, a spoken word performer, an arts events organizer, with a profound reputation.Dr. Rory Patrick Feehan, owner/editor of the popular Irish blog totallygonzo.org. Dr. Feehan is the recent author of the PhD dissertation The Genesis of the Hunter Figure: A study of the Dialectic between the Biographical and the Aesthetic in the Early Writings of Hunter S. Thompson. William McKeen, author of many books, including Outlaw Journalist, and chair of the Department of Journalism at Boston University. Peter Richardson, a professor of humanities and American Studies at San Francisco State University. His latest book, about Hunter S. Thompson, will be published by the University of California Press. His previous publications include books about the Grateful Dead, Ramparts magazine, and Carey McWilliams, Thompson’s editor at The Nation magazine.
Jim was beloved by many. The New York Times obituary reminds us of his stellar career:
James Silberman, a revered book editor whose meticulousness, intuition and patience helped propel the publishing careers of a distinguished roster of authors, including James Baldwin, Marilyn French, Hunter S. Thompson and Alvin Toffler, died on July 26 at his home in Manhattan. He was 93
In his office the photo brings him to life. How many times I walked into that office, how many authors did, to find this assured editor, at home in his own skin, a listener, astute, ready to find a solution to whatever problem existed. He was gentle but firm, a true lover of books. He figures strongly in the plot of The Hell’s Angels Letters: Hunter S. Thompson, Margaret Harrell and the Making of an American Legend. After all, he was his Hunter’s book editor, which is how I come in, as Jim’s copy editor (also assistant editor) on that book, Hell’s Angels. As with James Baldwin and others, Jim just plucked them out of the obscurity or a difficult position and righted their careers. Decades later, for the Letters book, I interviewed Jim four times. Below is a miniscule excerpt of one of those interviews that you can find in the Letters:
As the telephone interview with Jim begins (in 2011), I tell him I’m going to talk into the tape recorder. I open by asking how he got involved with Hell’s Angels.
JS: [Bernard] Shir-Cliff read the piece in the Nation and sent it to me.
MAH [repeating into the tape recorder]: So, you’re saying Shir-Cliff read the piece in the Nation and sent it to you.
MAH: OK. And then you went out to San Francisco, I guess.
JS: Ballantine and Random House made a deal with Hunter.
MAH: Yeah, and I guess after that—
JS: I went out to San Francisco to collect a manuscript from him.
Ed’s Note: In June 1966
MAH: [laughs] That was still a hard thing.
JS: He wasn’t sending it. I went out there to get it away from him.
MAH: Yeah. And I guess you had some luck.
JS: [explains about Hunter being under contract] He was having trouble—not writing, but he was having trouble pulling the book together.
MAH: OK. So you went out there. But you were a wonderful influence. I’m sure that you would give a steady hand to him; I’m sure he would feel that. And pressure too.
JS: He must have all those years ’cause we were together a long time.
MAH: I’m going to repeat that: “He must have all those years’ cause we were together a long time.” You surely were. I mean, all the time you were with him he was productive.
We cover many topics. But that is a snippet. What stands out about it is that the official line in Hunter’s biography omits the fact that Jim went out there and builds an incredible tale around the fact that he did not. To read about Jim in the New York Times obituary, click here. It’s well worth a read: a true giant, very very intelligent, meticulous, gentle sharp on the money, my friend, my boss for a while. Central to my New York City years. His wife Selma Shapiro Silberman was also part of the Random House scene back then. And she survives him after decades of a happy marriage in which, near the end, he said, “We laugh a lot.”
I am so pleased that the day before Jim died, I emailed (which I rarely did) with an announcement of the book publication and a photo of the cover. I think it would mean something to him, as he always rooted for me. Suppose I hadn’t phoned two weeks before. Suppose I hadn’t sent the email. But I did:
Hi, Jim and Selma,
This is the book. A complimentary copy is in the mail to you and should arrive next week.
Would you let me know you received it. I hope you like it. The interviews in the back are a very important part of the story, and Jim was vital there to adding context. I so appreciated that. I enjoyed talking with you and hope Jim is faring better. Warmly, Margaret