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Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  31 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, Bra ...more
Hardcover, 880 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Counterpoint (first published January 10th 2012)
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M. Sarki
Oct 23, 2014 M. Sarki rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: persons interested in the life of Richard Brautigan

Though not a big fan of William Hjortsberg it must be said that his work was diligent and most likely as honest as could be. But I am convinced in my own mind that a large part of the reason for his writing this biography was to insure his own place in a writer's history as a close friend of Richard Brautigan. A good portion of this mammoth book was to report on the writing life of Gatz and his wife and their life as neighbors of RB in Montana. But I also
Granted, at 812 pages (and it does need more careful editing), this is probably more than most folks want to know about Richard Brautigan. Not so I. The whole period of American letters from the late 50s through the 70s is a rich topic, and this gargantuan history relates it all. What a grand achievement! I moved in with all my packed bags and furniture and I didn’t want to move out. It’s positively Tolstoyan in its scale and sense of tragedy.
Cory B
“Jubliee Hitchhiker” is one of those big, sprawling books that takes on the whirlwind of the American 1950s and 60s, while never losing sight of the eye of the storm—in this case the life of poet, novelist, and all-around bad-ass Richard Brautigan, whose suicide in 1984 should be added to the devastating list of great American writers that we’ve lost too soon. Hjortsberg, who counts himself amongst Brautigan’s acolytes, writes in a clear, comprehensive voice that keeps you turning the pages. Not ...more
Ed Eleazer

This book is a long hard slog, but a rewarding one for Brautigan fans. The result of over two decades of research on Hjortsberg's part, the book presents Brautigan's life in minute detail over the course of some 812 pages. It does seem slightly ironic that Hjortsberg goes to such lengths and covers so much detail in discussing the life of an author who valued smallness, brevity, and the beauty of the mundane.

The book's strengths are manifold. We are given insight into Brautigan's writing method

Now that was weird; I hated this book, and yet I can appreciate it for its thoroughness (reading it took especially long since the sheer weight of the tome forced me to read it at a table, to avoid crushing my abdominal organs). My dislike is, to a certain extent, my own fault, since I did not read the title very carefully: The Life AND TIMES of Richard Brautigan. Well, I now have a comprehensive overview of the two subcultures of the latter half of the 20th century that least interest me, namel ...more
I love Brautigan's work. I saw him in person once and found him disgustingly, sloppily drunk but still a genius. His In Watermelon Sugar is one of my favorite books ever, and some of his poetry goes with me every step of the way. This book, however, is way too much. Way, way too much. The minutiae of his life; just not that interesting. The opening chapter is horrific, detailing as it does his suicide and how his body decays, visited by flies and maggots, over the next several weeks. I will be a ...more
Richard Wheeler
I heard or read most of this book in manuscript, and was greatly impressed. William Hjortsberg has done a masterful job of depicting the life of Richard Brautigan, the iconic counterculture poet.
I have mixed feelings on Hjortsberg's Brautigan biography. Some of the general consensus appears to be that it's far too exhaustive in its detail, noting things like how much Brautigan paid for a room at a hotel or meal in a restaurant. Such detail brings the book to 800+ pages, a seeming irony, given the short, somewhat minimalist nature of Brautigan's work.

Delving into the biography, however, one learns of Brautigan's own obsession with details (he constantly kept written lists and records of
Aug 18, 2014 Kristi added it
Shelves: memoir-bio
Yikes. 880 pages of depressingness, many of which I had to skim. Smart, sensitive boy abandoned by kooky family. Struggles with OCD, anxiety, shock treatment, and a bunch of other stuff. Discovers soulmates in the Beats of San Francisco and hones his craft as well as his love of booze. Apparently doesn't feel the sense of Peace and Love that his hippie peers are preaching in the '60's and seems looped in emotional turbulence and misogynistic relationships until his suicide in 1984. Sad.
Charles Kerns
OK, I did not read it all. It goes on and on feeling like cleaned up transcripts of god knows how many interviews, cut up, time-organized, but without ever getting at Brautigan. The book told stories about him, it did not try tell you who this guy really was. Not much psychology, here.

Everyone thought Brautigan unknowable, so maybe this proves it.

For me it was like rummaging through the life of someone who lived down the street many years ago, someone you did not know, but recognized every once
Jane Vandenburgh
This contains the most gripping first chapter of a literary biography I have ever read, might put you in mind of the structure and exactitude of Jim Crace's lovely, heartbreaking Being Dead. Beautiful!
Finally finished after 3 months, I think. Not an indicator of what I thought of it. It was fantastic if depressing.
I was a big Brautigan (and Tom Robbins) fan and knew he had lived in Paradise Valley. I recently heard the author read from the book at a performance of " Trout Fishing in Livingston: A Theatrical Homage to the Writings of Richard Brautigan" and came back and got the book from the library. Very well written, it probably deserves five stars for the sheer depth and breadth of research that went into what must be considered the definitive biography of Brautigan. The author, who was a friend and mem ...more
In the case of Brautigan you would presume that fiction is stranger than truth, but not so fast. Knowing very little about this once internationally celebrated poet and author, I endeavored to read this 800 plus biography. Once consider the last of the beats, Brautigan despised this label as well as a champion of hippiedom. The book starts off with gruesome details of his suicide by a magnum .45. Don't be put off however. The book goes own to document the extreme poverty and oppression he experi ...more
I don't really care about Richard Brautigan as a writer. This book was at the tiny branch library I was visiting and I decided to read it.

This is an engrossing, richly detailed (to put it mildly) biography that covers extremely well-trod ground (Beats, San Francisco in the '60s) in revelatory fashion. Recommended.
This book should be titled "Everything you Always wanted to know about Brautigan and everything you didn't want to know". While it is a big book, and heavy, I find it interesting. I am now into his Haight Ashbury time period, and find it fascinating. One of America's greatest writers and always my very favorite, I am saddened by his difficult life, and even more sad that he felt that he had to end his own life. The book has a somber tone to it, or perhaps it's the opening chapter that I can't ge ...more
Christopher Litsinger
Longer than the Einstein and Jobs biographies combined, this is a deeply detailed look into Brautigan's life. Being set up in a roughly chronological but mostly thematic structure means there's quite a bit of repetition. I'm not sure that I liked the book, but I think I'm glad I read it.
Here's an example of the almost incredible level of detail in the book:
One night, the couple ate not-quite-ripe cantaloupe with their dinner. Dissatisfied, they set their plates on the floor and were astonished t
Could use twelve more trips to the editors desk.
Tom Paolangeli
Well, I didn't actually make it to the end - it was due back at the library. This tome is extremely detailed, maybe a bit too much! Brautigan was certainly an interesting character, and I wanted to follow his journey. But the book does bog down at times with endless stories of particular days or nights that don't really advance the story. So he went drinking with so and so and talked to a girl and then went home and wrote. Over and over and over. I'm a fan of Brautigans, but maybe not obsessive ...more
A much needed comprehensive biography of Richard Brautigan. However, it is TOO comprehensive. I don't really need to know about him remodeling his Montana home or that he spent $80 on a lobster dinner in New York in 1982. Details like this make the biography at times read like a ledger rather than the story of a complex man's life.
So I actually couldn't finish this book... I got 297 pages in and then didn't pick it up for over a year. It's just not well-written. There's too much detail, too many names and dates and tiny pieces of information. Probably about half the pages should have been cut.
Nancy Ann
I enjoyed this book. It is lengthy. Anyone who is interested in the literary scene in California in the 1960s & 70s, or Richard Brautigan would enjoy it. I like Hjortsberg's writing.
Stuart Cohn
Didn't finish, though the book was intermittently interesting. I got bogged down in all the details. There's way more in here than you need to know. And yet...
This took me a long time to get through, but it was very worth it... a really great bio.

"Such and such to such and such. Richard Brautigan. Wish you were here."
painstaking research into the life and times of the literary bridge between the beat generation and the love generation
Annie Smith
Apr 26, 2014 Annie Smith is currently reading it
I swear I will finish this at some point! Half way through 880 pages! It's so heavy to read in bed!!!
Joseph Nicolello
Jennifer Messie
very detailed, very huge book. have to read trout fishing next.
Lee Carmichael
really well written but too long so I only read the first third
Sad. Obsessively detailed and very sad.
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William Hjortsberg (b. 1941) is an acclaimed author of novels and screenplays. Born in New York City, he attended college at Dartmouth and spent a year at the Yale School of Drama before leaving to become a writer. For the next few years he lived in the Caribbean and Europe, writing two unpublished novels, the second of which earned him a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University.

When his
More about William Hjortsberg...
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