Hamilton, Ed 1961–
Hamilton, Ed 1961–
Born January 15, 1961.
Home—New York, NY.
Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws of New York's Rebel Mecca, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including the Modern Drunkard, River Walk Journal, SoMa Literary Review, and the Journal of Kentucky Studies. Also contributor of "Slice of Life" column to the Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog.
Writer Ed Hamilton has lived at the Hotel Chelsea, a residential hotel in New York, New York, for twelve years. He contributes extensively to the Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog. The hotel, according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, has been known as "a hipster hangout since it opened its doors more than 100 years ago." Hamilton's blog posts became the basis for his book Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws of New York's Rebel Mecca. Explaining his choice to write first in the blog format, Hamilton told Jen Carlson in an interview for the Gothamist Web site: "The Chelsea seemed way too anarchic to describe in a straightforward, linear way. There were always a thousand things coming at us all at once: if you sit in the lobby for an hour you will be witness to any number of strange incidents and intrigues, good, bad and indifferent. The more open-ended blog form … seemed tailor made for the job." Hamilton added: "But I love books, and with everything I write, the idea of somehow transforming it into a book is never far from my mind."
Legends of the Chelsea Hotel features previously published articles from Living with Legends and several new articles. Matthew Moyer, a Library Journal reviewer, stated that Hamilton fluidly transforms his blog postings into a book format, with "clipped prose and brief, surreal vignettes," making his book "a delightful hybrid of journalism and gonzo mythologizing."
The articles all feature the hotel and its inhabitants, which have ranged from Dylan Thomas, who died there in a coma, to punk rocker Sid Vicious, who stabbed his girlfriend to death at the hotel. "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," Jeff Giles wrote in the New York Times Book Review.
Hamilton profiles many people in his book, including a painter/con artist, a forgotten actress and her son, and a flamboyant Japanese graffiti artist named Hiroya, to whom the author dedicates the book out of admiration. Commenting on Hiroya in his interview with Carlson for the Gothamist Web site, the author stated: "Hiroya typifies the Dream of the Chelsea, which is the dream of all New York: to move here and give your artistic talent free reign to develop, and ultimately to succeed in your chosen field. Hiroya was an absolute weirdo, who could never have fit in anywhere else but the Chelsea."
Despite recalling past residents of the hotel, the author focuses primarily on Chelsea residents from the period of time he lived there. For example, Hamilton writes about actor Ethan Hawke going through his breakup with wife and fellow actor Uma Thurman. Hamilton also includes biographical sketches of the people he profiles.
"What really resonates in the book, what makes it so sorrowful at times, is Hamilton's evocation of all the young and old hopefuls who have just enough ambition to push their lives past the point of no return," Giles added. Other contributors also praised the book. Mike Tribby, a Booklist reviewer, referred to Legends of the Chelsea Hotel as "wicked good dishing." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the "Chelsea's uncertain future make[s] this nostalgic portrait of the hotel's ‘fabled madness’ all the more poignant."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2007, Mike Tribby, review of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws of New York's Rebel Mecca, p. 20.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2007, review of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel.
Library Journal, September 1, 2007, Matthew Moyer, review of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, p. 136.
New York Times Book Review, October 28, 2007, Jeff Giles, "Chelsea Mornings," review of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, August 13, 2007, review of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, p. 59.
Gothamist,http://gothamist.com/ (November 1, 2007), Jen Carlson, "Ed Hamilton, Author," interview with Ed Hamilton.