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Jill Hunting explores ‘Not Famous’ September 7

Ridge Writers East Sierra Branch Donna Rosenthal–

Author Jill Hunting’s talk “Not Famous” for September 7 Ridge Writers meeting, 6:30 p.m. at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, 633 W. Las Flores, will ask (and answer), “To a writer, does fame matter? If yes, why? If no, what matters more?” Public welcome. No admission fee.

Donna Rosenthal

She will explore these questions in the context of her recent book, “For Want of Wings: A Bird with Teeth and a Dinosaur in the Family.”

In 1872, at the age of 20, her great-grandfather Thomas H. Russell discovered the fossil of a flightless bird with teeth, one of the most important but least-known finds from the Age of Dinosaurs. The bones he unearthed in a Kansas canyon, Hesperornis regalis, did not achieve the celebrity of Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus. Hunting will discuss why, and what became of this missing link between reptiles and birds.

Except to paleontologists, Hesperornis remains largely unknown today. So does Tom Russell, who instead of taking up paleontology as his lifework became a surgeon and professor. In his time, he gained recognition for taking on difficult cases—including that of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s grandson, who fell in a climbing accident.

In our time, when social media dominates everyday life and publishing alike, Huntingl believes it worthwhile to ask ourselves, “What is the merit of an unseen life?”

She is the author of two hybrid memoirs that combine personal narrative and U.S. history: “For Want of Wings” (2022) and “Finding Pete: Rediscovering the Brother I Lost in Vietnam” (2009). Editor of John McReynolds’s “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook” (2013), named Book of the Year and winner of the Julia Child Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, she also served as senior editor for two wine and food magazines in Napa and as marketing manager with HarperCollins. She resides with her husband in Pasadena. Her website:

A book signing follows her presentation. Ridge Writers is the East Sierra Branch of the 114-year California Writers Club ( that traces its roots to Jack London and friends in the Bay Area and has 22 branches throughout the state.