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You Can't Catch Death

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  400 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In all of the obituaries and writing about Richard Brautigan that appeared after his suicide, none revealed to Ianthe Brautigan the father she knew. Through it took all of her courage, she delved into her memories, good and bad, to retrieve him, and began to write. You Can't Catch Death is a frank, courageous, heartbreaking reflection on both a remarkable man and the child ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 10th 2001 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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Christopher Litsinger
Jan 11, 2012 Christopher Litsinger rated it it was amazing
Ianthe Brautigan's struggle to come to terms with her father's brilliance, love, alcoholism and suicide is captured in a nearly perfect package in this book. She has obviously inherited her father's gift for words, and I'm deeply disappointed that she hasn't written many more books for me to immediately go out and read.
You want passages? I'm tempted to simply excerpt the entire book, because it's that good, but I think that might get me in trouble so here are two:
We never talked about his mother
Jul 09, 2010 Harkinna rated it it was amazing

Told as a series of vignettes, the book describes one daughter’s relationship with her father, who eventually kills himself. I am on a memoir kick, and can’t remember who recommended the book to me, but it was a lovely read.

Mrs. Brautigan’s father was a famous writer and throughout the book famous people flit in and out, seemingly to behave like the real people that they are. Her father split his time between San Francisco and a ranch outside of Bozeman. Ianthe did the same.

Pictures of her, and
May 14, 2016 Tom rated it it was amazing
This beautiful little volume is a tender love letter from a daughter to her troubled father, author Richard Brautigan, who lapsed into alcoholism and eventually suicide in 1984. Growing up and moving from house to house between her two separated parents could not have been easy, but Ianthe describes her childhood as generally a happy one. Some of the best Brautigan anecdotes are included here, and they take on a slightly different character when told from the vantage point of a young girl who lo ...more
Sep 01, 2016 Amelia-Marie rated it it was amazing
Ianthe Brautigan Swensen was my first professor at Sonoma State in the fall of 2013. In her class she mentioned two things in particular which stood out: one, her memoir concerning her famous poet father, Richard Brautigan, and the other a place, The Sitting Room. I began going to The Sitting Room in freshman year so it is rather fitting, now as an intern at the very place which brings me so much joy, how it brought me full circle in my ability to borrow and finally read her memoir. She set my l ...more
May 07, 2012 Helen rated it liked it
Although this book offered insights to Richard Brautigan's life that only Ianthe could, I'm not sure that it was written in quite the tone or with quite the magic with which would have been admirable and delicious as a memoir to an author who, on reading his work, makes me absolutely childishly delighted. It would have been nice if some of the Brautigan magic could have been apparent in this book, but I suppose the sole purpose of a memoir isn't to delight or fill the reader with a sense of magi ...more
Jun 30, 2008 Willem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a maybe overly upbeat book of a daughter coming to terms with her father's suicide. She glosses over his black moments (alcoholic rages, refusing to come to her wedding) and instead chooses to remember his loving moments, as probably a child should do.
She records her life with her father in San Francisco, Montana and Japan and her pursuit of her father's childhood on a road trip to Washington : meeting a grandmother she never met and trying to understand her father's early life. As wel
Quinton Blue
Jan 09, 2015 Quinton Blue rated it really liked it
I read this book because of curiosity about Richard Brautigan, but the book is much more than that. "You Can't Catch Death: A Daughter's Memoir" is about the unconventional and poignant relationship between a daughter and her alcoholic novelist-poet father. If there is a third character in this, it's the booze that claims a negative presence and eventually plays a key role in RB's suicide. Ianthe Brautigan is a very good writer in her own space, and I wish she had more books out there. "A Daught ...more
Aug 18, 2007 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dads.
I'd read most of Dream Catcher - written by Salinger's daughter, Margaret - a year or two beforehand and so, when I stumbled across this book I jumped at it. I have to say I really enjoyed it. It is quite sad because Brautigan killed himself and here is his daughter, who was nine years old when he died, trying to connect with him. The chapters are very short and it's not hard to see that she's his daughter.
Jan 09, 2012 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio
Recommended by Greg Wittig :-)
Lovely engrossing daughter's dig into her famous father's suicide.
"Sometimes the love I have for my father overtakes my whole being, and I want to leap into the air and grab onto whatever color is there to express how my heart feels. At times like those I envision myself as a sort of sky acrobat, swinging from handhold to handhold in the blue atmosphere. This love is not weak and doesn't fail and remains forever mine."
Dec 09, 2013 Brett rated it it was amazing
Ianthe inherited her fathers grace and sublty. Any Brautigan fan should read this.. She carries the torch as she recounts her childhood and procceses the suicide of her father. A sad but beautiful book. xo b
Jarret Lovell
May 27, 2016 Jarret Lovell rated it it was amazing

A beautiful memoir by the daughter of Richard Brautigan. For me, Brautigan has always been surrounded in mystery. I sometimes feel that the less I know about him, the more I will enjoy his writing, as narration and personal reflection play such a strong role in some of his writing. I figure, "Why let the artist get in the way of the art?" At the same time, Brautigan is such an interesting, quirky and funny writer that one cannot help but want to learn more about the persona behind the writing, n
Apr 30, 2013 Mrs.George rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Richard Brautigan rocked my expectations from literature. Sophomore and junior years of high school, I adored the beatniks and wished I could have lived among their ranks. It was not Kerouac, nor Ginsberg, nor Ferlinghetti (though I loved to visit City Lights and stroll through North Beach) that I most admired; it was Brautigan.

Because of this, Iantha Brautigan's tome was a must-read. I admire that she wrote the book for herself and not for fans like myself. It ensured a personal and honest resu
Scott Walker
Sep 16, 2011 Scott Walker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in knowing Brautigan a little better--his daughter is an excellent writer herself, and this book is her attempt to come to terms with his suicide--it is also a beautiful homage to fathers in general, made even more touching by the inclusion of family photos. She also references many of Brautigan's writer friends such as Robert Creeley, Tom McGuane, Jim Harrison; and actors/directors like Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, and Hal ...more
May 22, 2013 Randy rated it it was amazing
I am a recovering alcoholic who was once hospitalized to protect me from myself (5150'd it's called in California). I had no idea what I'd find when I discovered this book in my local library; my primary interest was Richard Brautigan. I read and I cried as I realized the impact my alcoholism and self-destructive ways must have had on my ex-wife and son. I wish all children could and would write as well as Ianthe about their lives under these conditions. This was NOT a downer book for me. It sho ...more
Dec 07, 2009 Hannah rated it really liked it
The book was written exceptionally. I enjoyed the insights of the author regarding her fathers death. the narration didn't bore me at all rather i felt like I could really see them doing all those things. What I look for in a book is a especially when almost all are narrative is that the narration must be catchy, something that doesn't bore. how can i possibly get bored when each paragraph are carefully reflected on and seems to give meaning in the process. I would definitely recommend this book ...more
Sybil Mosely
Oct 17, 2016 Sybil Mosely rated it liked it
The author starts off with a sort of disclaimer, that her work is a way of coming to terms with her father's death and suicide. I wasn't expecting awe-stoking literature, so I'm happy to report that the road of the book opens and rambles like conversation, and for that reason is strangely deep. The Brautigans were friendly with some names you might recognize. You'll get a little trip into the soul of the 1970's. If you're a fan of Richard Brautigan and a devotee of his works, this book offers yo ...more
May 11, 2015 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Really good. I didn't even know that Richard Brautigan had committed suicide, which is perhaps a testament to my 90s professor's pure love of his work (The Revenge of the Lawn is especially good read aloud in class) or my undergraduate inattention. This book is a very personal, very relational, tale of a daughter's relationship with her father... before and after his self-inflicted death. She can get Brautigan-y at times, which I like a lot.
Oct 24, 2015 Peggy rated it really liked it
A memoir by Richard Brautigan's daughter about life with father and coming to grips with his suicide. Brautigan's inner anguish is evident in the photos sprinkled about in the book and it is no surprise to learn that he struggled with depression and alcoholism throughout his adulthood. What is amazing is that he managed to lead a very productive career as a novelist and poet. Ianthe's journey to know him better is nobly pursued and exquisitely conveyed.
Tom Romig
Jul 11, 2015 Tom Romig rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part biography, part eulogy, part history of a time, and a large part healing tragic memories. Ianthe Brautigan's writing is crisp, her tone is thoughtful. She has a flair for the whimsical, as did her father, as did so many young people during an era when they felt with much justification that the world was failing to value peace and joy.
Mark Farley
You Can't Catch Death is a surprisingly whole hearted and enjoyable read about a relationship between a daughter, her father and her journey to cope with his suicide. The father is of course, Richard Brautigan and this is a sublime snapshot of the sixties and seventies City Lights writing scene around the beautiful city of San Francisco.
Jul 16, 2013 Vanore rated it really liked it
Richard Brautigan was my favorite poet/writer when I was a youngin. When I learned he committed suicide, I had to find out more. I found this book, a memoir by his daughter which gives a touching account of the life of a troubled, but brilliant creative mind.
Apr 21, 2008 Manatee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who appreciates Richard Brautigan
I very much enjoyed the insight into Richard Brautigan, and I think his daughter shares his talent.
Like In Watermelon Sugar, I read this on a cross-country road trip. I met the author in a bookstore in Petaluma, California.
Jun 06, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it
The always essential counterpoint to the 'tragic genius' that history creates and recreates. A woman who is given a rich, free, troubled life by her brilliant father, who was plagued by mental illness. A story more about how you don't have to inherit the legacy of your famous parent.
Jul 12, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
Richard Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, writes a very honest account of her father, his artistic process, his struggles with depression and alcoholism, and her own heroic strength, growing up witness to all this. Her loyalty and love for her father shine through every sentence.
Nov 18, 2010 Ma rated it liked it
fantastic musings from Richard brautigan's daughter. warm and well written, nice to hear such a rich perspective on the man.
Knight Berman Jr
Jul 17, 2011 Knight Berman Jr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good insight into Brautigan, as well as being a good insight into the way a daughter dealt with the suicide of her father. Touching and revealing.
Apr 05, 2009 Todd rated it really liked it
This one is a real downer--Richard Brautigan's daughter explores the impact of her father's alcoholism and suicide on her own life.
Aug 05, 2010 Pointyjess rated it it was amazing
My favorite author's daughter's memoir of him. Beautifully written. I can hear echoes of her dad through her writing.
Brooke Lavalley
Jun 08, 2015 Brooke Lavalley rated it liked it
It was just....ok. I found myself wanting to hear more about her father and less about her relationship with her own daughter.
Apr 19, 2008 Charmaine rated it liked it
How does a 24 year old cope when her father commits suicide? Writing helped Ianthe. And this book makes me want to read her father's books.
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