A Year on Earth With Mr. Hell is the critically acclaimed début memoir by Young Kim. It recounts her affair with legendary punk rocker and writer, Richard Hell, while processing her grief for Malcolm McLaren (most famous for his role as the conceptualizer, art director and manager of the Sex Pistols, as well as designing the punk style with his then-partner, Vivienne Westwood), her romantic and business partner for the last 12 years of his life until his untimely death in 2010.
Known for his own erotic writing, Hell instigated the book inadvertently by asking Kim to write something sexually provocative about their first night together. Unusually, in this instance, Hell, a man, a generation older than Kim, acted as her muse; equally unusual is for a woman to write so explicitly and honestly about sex.
Because it was written as the unpredictable affair unfolded, there was always great uncertainty to the realization of this “daybook-cum-docudrama.”
Set in a Warholian swirl in the worlds of art, music, and fashion, moving from New York, London, Paris, Venice, Zurich, Mexico City, Kenya… an entire chapter takes place in the STANDARD Highline:
“Have you been to the Boom Boom Room?”
He looked at me questioningly.
“The club at the top of the STANDARD. It’s so gorgeous! I think it’s the most glamorous room in all of New York. It’s like the Rainbow Room meets the Jetsons.”
No one else entered as the doors closed and the elevator started to mount the floors. Everything at the STANDARD is designed for one thing: sex. The elevator was suitably dark…
WHAT OTHER WRITERS HAVE TO SAY:
A fabulous escapist fantasy involving two cool people in amazing clothes having a fine time taking them off in glamorous hotel rooms.
--Helen Rumbelow, The Times
I found the book so engrossing; I really did read it in one sitting. That’s kind of unheard of from me. It all takes place in a beautiful bubble of privilege, and thank god. It’s glorious to be allowed to enter into it because fuck the rest of our rotten, barren world in this moment.
– Bret Easton Ellis
The most graphically effective sex writing I've read in a long time. The same material as fiction wouldn't have such an immediate and even threatening effect: when someone is making something up, that gives the reader an out, and this doesn't.
-- Greil Marcus
The spirit of Anais Nin and Georges Bataille is reborn in this wonderful book. Young Kim has written something that is much more than a memoir—a truly modern work of art.
Written by an Asian American woman about her intimate relationships with two iconic white male founders of the punk movement of the 1970s, Young Kim’s sexual memoir is in part a comedy of manners, in part a love story and despite itself a study of modern morality. Referring to herself in the text as “more predator than prey” Kim throws a spanner in the works of modish feminism, the authorship of porn, racial assumption,
sexual politics and the threadbare myth of the rock n roll Priapus.
The design of the book, by Studio Marie Lusa, is an homage to Olympia Press, the notorious Parisian publisher of erotic and banned books like Lolita, The Story of O, Naked Lunch and Alexander Trocchi’s Helen and Desire, which was the inspiration behind one of McLaren’s iconic punk designs for SEX: the “I Groaned With Pain” T-shirt.
The book has been printed to the highest standards (gold embossing, sewn binding, good-quality paper) by Normandie Roto Impression which today prints the prestigious Pléïade Editions in an area in France historically known for printing some of literature’s most legendary books including Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.
Though this means that the book is slightly more expensive (the price of a pint of beer) than a typical paperback book, Kim believes this is more than justified for two reasons she feels passionately about: the reader can derive pleasure from the book’s quality and beauty; and it will last and can be treasured, instead of being disposed of and adding more garbage to the world.
ABOUT YOUNG KIM
Young Kim grew up in Long Island, New York, before studying history at Yale University. After teaching English for one year in the former East Germany, she then completed the first year of law school at N.Y.U. before abandoning it in favor of her passion for the creative world. This led her to Paris to study fashion. During her second year in Paris, she met Malcolm McLaren and immediately commenced a romantic relationship. After a stint in the fashion world, including as an editor of V Magazine/ Visionaire, she started working exclusively with McLaren in 2000 as his producer and creative partner on projects in art, fashion, music, film, theatre, advertising, and media, until his death in 2010. As the sole executor and heir of the Estate of Malcolm McLaren, she continues to work in the same worlds as well as writing. She has published pieces in Vogue US, Holiday, Drugstore Culture and GQ UK. She lives between Paris and New York.