Keep This Quiet! captures the fear and loathing, charm and romance of Hunter in the late Sixties—along with tales of two other underground authors. Included are genuine, funny letters he sent Margaret during and after the publication of Hell’s Angels. Also, priceless reminiscences of some of Hunter’s oldest friends: William Kennedy, David Pierce, Rosalie Sorrels, and editor Jim Silberman—covered in no other account. Featured in addition are “poète maudit” Jan Mensaert and Greenwich Village “poet genius” Milton Klonsky.
Imagine the Montparnasse cafes, such as Le Select - which was famous for French Onion Soup - in Paris 1965. I read about the history of artists - painters, writers, philosophers, etc. - who hung out there, sometimes to keep warm, and decided to go.
Packing my bags in my New York City Greenwich Village one-room rent-controlled apartment, I sailed alone on a boat to France, intent on starting "my novel." What better place. In fabled Montparnasse cafés in the 1920s many poor writers, like Hemingway, spent long hours - as documented in A Moveable Feast. Also, Picasso (see the photo at La Rotonde). Or Henry Miller. Writers, painters, dancers, philosophers mingled and kept warm. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir lived in the neighborhood and are buried now in the Montparnasse cemetery. The atmosphere was still alive in 1965. Why wouldn't it be? It was the 1960s. The menu in the slider is from yet another famous Montparnasse café; it displays the signatures of some of the regulars. But I actually sat down to begin writing just down the street, at "Le Dome."
Soon after sitting at the very famous Le Dome cafe in Monparnasse, Paris, fixed in the intent to start "my book" (which I did), I spent three months wandering on a shoestring budget through southern Europe and Morocco, guided by my trusty Europe on $5 a Day.
It was highly unusual for a woman to be traveling alone, in spite of an invasion of hippies. I'd been afraid on the ship - people successfully tried to scare me about what might happen on the trip - but one foot on French soil and I was in heaven.
Back in New York, I began my copy editing job at Random House and rapidly got swept off my feet first poet and "guru" Milton Klonsky and second the future creator of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. I copy edited Hunter's Hell's Angels; that narrative fills much of Keep This Quiet! (I had met the outrageous Belgian poet Jan Mensaert in Casablanca just earlier; we were corresponding.) Meeting these three, I was in for "a ride." The 6os roared into high gear for me, setting the stage for the memoir of that exciting time, Keep This Quiet: My Relationship with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert!
Below is a photo of me near Toledo, Spain, home of an El Greco Museum.