Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan

Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan

William Hjortsberg

Language: English

Pages: 864

ISBN: 1619021056

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.












with Brautigan about his poetry. Richard asked her where she lived. “Here, in San Francisco,” she said. “I live here, too. Why write letters to each other. We live in the same city.” When the girl replied that she’d like writing better, Richard turned and walked away, leaving her standing in the rain. “What about Robert Desnos?” she called after him. “What about him?” Brautigan answered. “He died in a German concentration camp in 1945.” When Richard got home, he unrolled the papers Michael

mechanics of social change. Abbie Hoffman visited, taking note of the Diggers’ tactics for his own later use in highly publicized political shenanigans. (In August the following year, Hoffman identified himself to the press as “a Digger” after throwing dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.) Allen Ginsberg showed up a bit later after the Free Frame relocated to Frederick Street, bringing Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert. A group of young runaways chanted “You don’t turn us

been Paul Krassner’s girlfriend, although he recalled only her hippie sobriquet and even that recollection remained vague, “Morning Dove . . . Morning Glory . . . Morning Star, something like that.” Brautigan wrote a poem for Hilda that later appeared in Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt. As always, Richard took charge, directing the whole operation. They went to work on the rickety stairs leading down from Brautigan’s kitchen to the trash-filled backyard. Stacks of old newspapers stood in sodden

Arts and Crafts movement building made of locally milled redwood around 1885, was part of the Grande Vista Tract, Marin County’s first subdivision. Screened by several tall redwood trees and a growth of Scotch broom nearly two stories high that blocked a potentially fine view of the ocean, the place remained perpetually in shadow. Overgrown with ivy, the garage resembled a small hill more than a building. Richard refused to have any of it cut, preferring the illusion of privacy provided by the

built of creosote-treated fence posts were lit. The fiery scene reeked of damnation. More than an hour passed, and still the Rolling Stones had not appeared. The impatient crowd grew increasingly restive. Backstage, the band chatted and tuned their instruments. Furious, Bill Fritsch told Mick Jagger, “You better get the fuck out there before the place blows beyond sanity.” When Jagger replied they were “preparing” and would go “when good and ready,” Sweet William got really pissed. “I want to

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