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Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautiganby William Hjortsberg
Synopses & Reviews
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 Hjortsberg trying to get their start. Brautigans 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 writers 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 this etches the portrait of a man destroyed by his genius.
"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. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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