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Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan
     

Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan

by William Hjortsberg
 

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Confident and robust, Jubilee Hitchhiker is an comprehensive biography of late novelist and poet Richard Brautigan, author of Troutfishing in America and A Confederate General from Big Sur, among many others. When Brautigan took his own life in September of 1984 his close friends and network of artists and writers were devastated though not

Overview

Confident and robust, Jubilee Hitchhiker is an comprehensive biography of late novelist and poet Richard Brautigan, author of Troutfishing in America and A Confederate General from Big Sur, among many others. When Brautigan took his own life in September of 1984 his close friends and network of artists and writers were devastated though not entirely surprised. To many, Brautigan was shrouded in enigma, erratic and unpredictable in his habits and presentation. But his career was formidable, an inspiration to young writers like William Hjortsberg trying to get their start. Brautigan’s career wove its way through both the Beat-influenced San Francisco Renaissance in the 1950s and the “Flower Power” hippie movement of the 1960s; while he never claimed direct artistic involvement with either period, Jubilee Hitchhiker also delves deeply into the spirited times in which he lived.

As Hjortsberg guides us through his search to uncover Brautigan as a man the reader is pulled deeply into the writer’s world. Ultimately this is a work that seeks to connect the Brautigan known to his fans with the man who ended his life so abruptly in 1984 while revealing the close ties between his writing and the actual events of his life. Part history, part biography, and part memoir, Jubilee Hitchhiker etches the portrait of a man destroyed by his genius.

Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
…sprawling and definitive…Hjortsberg, a novelist who was a friend and neighbor of Brautigan's during his Montana years, nails the qualities that I've admired about Brautigan's work, notably his "easy offhand voice, his concern for average working-class people, his matter-of-fact treatment of death, and his often startling juxtaposition of wildly disparate images"…an enjoyable soak in American literary bohemia, and a cleareyed portrait of a man whom Mr. Hjortsberg aptly calls "a connoisseur of the perfect moment." His book is full of them.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Bookended by harrowing accounts of poet and author Richard Brautigan's 1984 suicide, Hjortsberg's meticulously detailed biography of the writer is a study in excess, both in terms of Brautigan's life and Hjortsberg's page count. Described by one friend as "a painfully shy young man who tried everything in the world to cover up his shyness with a veneer of cool reserve," the man behind Trout Fishing in America struggled with an inferiority complex that gave way to haughtiness as his star rose, accompanied in equal measure by juvenile behavior that often resulted in shattered furniture, limbs, and friendships. Brautigan begged to be arrested as a teenager and was granted his wish as well as a stint in a mental health facility where he underwent shock therapy. But Hjortsberg (Alp) doesn't dwell so much on Brautigan's mental state as on the minutiae of the author's life—the number of fish caught on a given expedition, the airlines he flew, and dinner tabs are covered in detail, making the book feel as if it was written by an accountant rather than a novelist. Hjortsberg, who was a neighbor of Brautigan's in Montana and spent 20 years compiling the book, offers glimmers of insight into the author, but they're buried beneath acres of plodding procedural prose. Readers with an abiding interest in Brautigan will find this a thorough portrait of the man, but those new to his work will likely pack up and head home long before the journey's end. Photos. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“Hjortsberg does yeoman's genealogical research and writing, Brautigan's life unfolds as a tragicomedy, and the book vividly evokes the heady 1960s and 1970s, especially in the Bay Area, as lived by a "deeply strange" literary figure.”
—Steve Heilig, The San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619021051
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
02/12/2013
Pages:
864
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author


William Hjortsberg is the author of eight books, including Alp, Gray Matters, and Falling Angel, as well as the screenplays “Legend” and “Thunder & Lightning.” He lives in Montana with his wife, painter Janie Camp.

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