From Publishers Weekly
Short story author Hamilton (in the Journal of Kentucky Studies
, SoMa Literary Review
, etc.) became consumed in writing [his neighbors'] darkly humorous and often tragic stories after many years of living at New York's infamous Chelsea Hotel. Arrayed here are 68 of his columns for ''Living with Legends, the Hotel Chelsea blog (www.hotelchelseablog.com). Hamilton skillfully interweaves his memories of residents with a history of the 23rd Street hotel, longtime proprietor Stanley Bard (who stepped down reluctantly this year) and the neighboring restaurant, El Quijote. Built in 1883, the Chelsea became a residential hotel for theater luminaries in 1905. Tenants since then have run the gamut from O. Henry and Dylan Thomas to Kerouac and Madonna. Famed books have been written at the Chelsea, including William Burroughs's Naked Lunch
, but the establishment has also attracted a great many eccentrics, hustlers and crazies. Recent management changes and the Chelsea's uncertain future make this nostalgic portrait of the hotel's fabled madness all the more poignant. Photos not seen by PW
. (Oct. 15)
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New York Times Book Review, 10/28/07 By JEFF GILES
"One of the recurring pleasures of Ed Hamilton's "Legends of the Chelsea Hotel" is his sly rendering of its former proprietor, Stanley Bard, an eccentric patron of the arts who almost pathologically refused to acknowledge that the Chelsea was anything other than a crystal palace inhabited by muses and magicians. Early in the book, Hamilton passes along a former tenant's story of seeing a swarm of policemen on the ninth floor and assuming that Joe the junkie had finally OD'd. Bard corrected him: the police officers were in fact guests at the hotel, and the junkie was vacationing abroad. The tenant, it seems, had been misled by the stretcher, the corpse and the body bag.
In "Legends," Hamilton evokes a similar sense that the past and the present are constant bedfellows on 23rd Street. The book may be uneven and overstuffed, but there's something remarkable about the way the author manages to celebrate the Chelsea's singular atmosphere -- the exuberant aspiring artists, the divorced movie stars, the disheveled blonde who may have Tourette's who lingers in the lobby hissing like a snake -- without ever forgetting how toxic the air is for many of the people who come desperate to breathe it."
Kansas City’s Pitch Weekly blog, 2/11/10
“I recommend picking up Ed Hamilton’s Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, which has many more stories of the famous landmark where Smith, Mapplethorpe, and many other renowned writers, musicians, and artists stayed.”