KEEP THIS QUIET!

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HUNTER S. THOMPSON, MILTON KLONSKY, AND JAN MENSAERT

Harrell’s memoir details her relationships with Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky and Jan Mensaert, and how these partners influenced her life by the way in which they lived their own.

Harrell (Toward a Philosophy of Perception, 2005, etc.) becomes acquainted with the self-styled “Gonzo” journalist Thompson while helping to edit his first book, Hell’s Angels (1967). She meets the Belgian poet Jean-Marie (Jan) Mensaert by chance outside a coffeehouse in Marrakech, and she discovers New York poet Milton Klonsky in a West Village bistro. Though disparate in age, temperament and locale, all three attracted the author because of her sense that they symbolized the zeitgeist of the 1960s and the coming post-modern era. Each man was fiercely individualistic, consciously deciding to live on his own terms in his life and work. For their part, all were physically attracted to Harrell, as well as finding in her a kindred spirit. Her relationship with Thompson is the only one that ever becomes, for a brief period, physical. Harrell’s deep emotional attachment to the men sometimes undermines her explanations about why she thought each of them possessed genius. There is scant example of their actual writing, the focus being on their struggles—with varying degrees of success—to be properly acknowledged for it. Trying to describe how she knew the men were important writers, she resorts to language like “falling into vibrations” in their presence or quotes bits of conversations she had with them. For instance, Klonsky tells her, “Write it, your life, as you would write a novel.” Still, there is a sense in which her personal, subjective approach is often effective; 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. 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.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983704508

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Saeculum University Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2012

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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