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Jubilee Hitchhiker

The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan

List Price: $29.95

February 12, 2013 | Paperback | 7 x 10, 864 Pages | ISBN 9781619021051

"One of the merits of Jubilee Hitchhiker is that it not only tracks Brautigan's life but also deftly flips open any number of worlds, from the Beat and counterculture scenes in San Francisco to gonzo times in Montana..." —Dwight Garner, New York Times

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.

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. For more information, visit www.williamhjortsberg.com.


“Hjortsberg’s ability to work as a novelist — to shape his mountain of material, the enormous chaos of Brautigan’s life, into a narrative — … makes Jubilee Hitchhiker most remarkable.” —Harper’s

“One of the merits of Jubilee Hitchhiker is that it not only tracks Brautigan’s life but also deftly flips open any number of worlds, from the Beat and counterculture scenes in San Francisco to gonzo times in Montana…” —Dwight Garner, New York Times

“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.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“It’s not uncommon for a biography to begin with the subject’s death, but Hjortsberg’s account of Richard Brautigan’s suicide, in 1984, at age 49, is jolting in its explicitness, a foretaste of the fervency of this all-embracing portrait of the author of such era-defining works as Trout Fishing in America (1967) and The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968)… Hjortsberg delves incisively into Brautigan’s volatile friendships and doomed marriages, struggles to get published, leeriness of fame, heavy drinking, and increasingly disturbing behavior, concluding that Brautigan, for all the wit and whimsy of his work, was forever haunted by the “bleakness” of his childhood. A prodigious work of scholarship, remembrance, and empathy.” —Booklist Starred Review

“…the big, epic, all-inclusive biography that Brautigan fans have long been anticipating… a compelling narrative… solidly written… a detailed portrait of both the writer and his times.” —Rain Taxi Review of Books

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