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Jubilee Hitchhiker Paperback – 28 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (28 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619021056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619021051
  • Product Dimensions: 25.1 x 17.5 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 534,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Hjortsberg's 'Falling Angel' was not only made into the masterful 'Angelheart' starring Mickey Rourke, but was also involved in Ridley Scott's ill-fated 'Legend' which was based on Hjortsberg's original screenplay but which ended up having to be radically doctored so as not to offend the unicorn-loving masses - and consequently lost it's coherence.

Product Description


"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." --Steve Heilig, The San Francisco Chronicle --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nick Buchanan on 20 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fantastic piece of work - breathtaking in its scope, exhaustive in its research and beautiful in its prose. Hjortsberg has done the writer a great service in bringing his life to a wider audience. Brautigan is the real unsung hero of the Beat movement - greater than Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti (who were both so cruel to Brautigan). A moving, humane portrayal of a creative spirit in an unsupportive environment floundering yet creating wonderful works of art as he struggles. Worth every penny - an outstanding book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Archy on 5 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a weighty tome indeed, and clearly the author has spent many months, even years, writing it. There's little you could ask more of it; it tells you more about this fascinating, flawed genius than any other biography I've read has told about its subject. Terrific! My one quibble is that the author - a friend of Brautigan's - sometimes appears in the third person, sometimes as narrator, which is rather confusing. Or are there two people involved? A bit odd, but nevertheless this is just about the best biography I've read of anyone. Period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cuthru on 25 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is much too long. Somewhere in all this endless chronicling of detail is an interesting study of a fascinating era. Unfortunately it is lost in an ocean of tedious and repetitive padding, an obsessive exercise in the dubious art of leaving nothing out. So we get page after page of then-he-got-a-rejection-so-he-sent-it-to-blah-and-blah-didn't-like-so-he-sent-it-to ... and on and on. This, along with an apparent desire exhaustively catalogue every last little detail of Brautigan's several million boring drinking escapades, and the inexplicable urge to give biographical and geneological information on just about every single passing character, no matter how periphery, makes for avery boring read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. K. Raine on 1 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A thorough look into the life of this 'cult' writer who should be much more well known. Recommended to all fans.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 41 reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By Stuart Jefferson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This heavy tome is aimed pretty much at long time/original Brautigan readers (like me) who want to know a lot more (or anything) about both the man and his work. This 800 or so page book (not including 16 pages of b&w photos, the 17 page Bibliography and an Index) delves deeply into Brautigan's life and his writings, and how everything in, and surrounding, his life coalesced into an entire whole. Readers of his poems/novels have wondered over the years about the person who wrote heartfelt yet (sometimes) seemingly nonsensical verse and passages (or entire novels) that seemed to fit with the era's (especially the 60's) thinking. It's quite possible that others may feel this biography/memoir/history lesson rates 4 1/2-5 "stars",which it very well could. One thing-if you have trouble reading smallish type-you've been warned. I say this because most people interested in this book are probably of a certain age (like me) where things like a small font is a consideration.

If you don't mind a personal aside-I remember Brautigan from his days in S.F. in the late 60's, when his writings began appearing in a new magazine, "Rolling Stone", then costing a quarter for a badly folded "newspaper". He was very popular with both the college crowd (me) and the "scene" around the Bay Area. He looked like a "hippie" to some (long hair, round eye glasses, his hat) but he really didn't identify with that period-even though some of his novels ("Trout Fishing In America", "A Confederate General From Big Sur", based on an actual person, and "In Watermelon Sugar" especially) seemed to fit the outlook of the time. His poems, too, were small gems of inward/outward thinking (or possible nonsense)-just right for the era, and taken up by many as an example of "new" writing. Brautigan was "deeply involved with the motion of reality in poems". But he was upset with his "failure to establish adequate movement".

I purchased "Trout Fishing In America" at the old Kepler's Bookstore (he was rumored to be some kind of "socialist/communist/subversive") in Palo Alto/Menlo Park, Ca. I was a student and short of money. But the guy behind the counter let me buy the book still owing money-which I later paid. This was the same store where Jerry Garcia and friends would occasionally stop by and play some old timey blues/bluegrass/folk music in the back, before he became "famous". This was the kind of store that had tables and chairs for it's patrons, and stocked a lot of books you'd never see in a "respectable" chain bookstore. The store has long since changed with "improvements"-but in it's day what a cool place to stretch your mind.

"If I write this down now, I will have it in the morning. The question is: Do I want to start the day off with this?". Poem by Richard Brautigan.

"I could never write about you. You are real life". Richard Brautigan.

"This is the age of Aquarius. The candles will go out by themselves". Richard Brautigan's reply on why he wouldn't blow out the candles on his birthday cake.

This book ties Brautigan the person, his work, and various periods in America, together to form a deep look into just who Brautigan was, and his influence on both the culture of the times, and writers just coming up. It's what long time readers of Brautigan have waited for-a deep biography of the many facets of his personal life (including his early family life-or lack of, an early stay in a mental facility in the 1950's, his small income from publishing his poems, struggles concerning his novels, etc), a sometimes critical look at his writings, and the various "movements" (the Beats, the whole S.F. scene in the 60's, both of which he claimed no involvement). The book also explores his writings in the context of his personal life-and their interaction with his decision to end it. It's long been said that very few were surprised at his committing suicide-Brautigan was always seen as somewhat mercurial and unpredictable. This book explains why (up to a point), and how his writings and actions were seemingly intertwined. You be the judge. A note-the book begins with a fairly graphic, detailed account of Brautigan's suicide. Don't be put off by the sometimes gory details-think of it as an example of the meticulous work done by the author in the rest of the book.

"Things slowly curve out of sight until they are gone. Afterwards only the curve remains." Poem by Richard Brautigan.

This fine look at Brautigan is well laid out, and is written in a somewhat conversational, chronological style (using quotes and remembrances of people who were there) with side trips along the way. Brautigan's entire life is unraveled piece by piece and then put together in an easy to follow biography/history of the eras in which he found more (the most) interest in his writings, their influences (if any), and how Brautigan lived his personal life until he chose to end it. The author, William Hjortsberg, was a friend of Brautigan, and that has given him insight into his friend and his life, which is woven all through this book. This is a book for Brautigan readers, and for anyone interested in the 1950's/60's when so many things seemed to be changing. Young people took his writings as an example of a new way of thinking/writing-when anything and everything seemed to be changing, or needed to be changed.

"He could spin a yarn". Beverly Allen, "blithe spirit" and cover model for "Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt".

More so than Paul Bowles' writings on wandering in Morocco, more so than Charles Bukowski or even Hunter Thompson (where is he now that we really need him?), Richard Brautigan's writings seemed a perfect fit during those years, when "new" thinking and "new" ways of doing things were the only constants. With the passing of that entire period, Brautigan's writing has fallen by the wayside-very few know of him or his writing today. Whenever I bring his name (and ex-patriot Paul Bowles for his short stories) into a conversation (to blank stares) of authors I like, I feel like an old hippie (which I never was) dredging up the ancient (but exciting, never to be repeated) late 60's. Maybe his style doesn't reflect current times, but for a while Richard Brautigan was a shining part of an exciting time. A time I'm glad I was lucky enough to witness first hand. This book will both reinforce your ideas about Brautigan, and surprise you with new details of his life and times.

"In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar". Richard Brautigan.

For some still unknown reason those words captured some part of me way back then-and compelled me to read everything I could find by Richard Brautigan. Somehow those words were the prefect example of both that era and that period of my life. I still don't get it-but it doesn't matter.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A remarkable work 21 April 2012
By AE, Alpena AR - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First, I feel since all book reviews are subjective by their very nature, therefore I should disclose a little about the reviewer, me. I am a 1944 model who began hearing of Richard Brautigan when I lived in Vallejo in the mid-sixties and reading by the 70's. In the late 70's I lived in Hermosa Beach and had at least one copy of everything still in print and a lot of used book store copies of some. I have no training in art or literature criticism. I like it for me or I don't. I never met RB or Ianthe or most of those mentioned in the book.

That said, I found the work an extraordinary piece of research. I cannot attest to the accuracy of everything, but can certify many minute details as being very accurate such as the term "Hashbury". One can't make that up.
I feel this most of all reinforced the true life fact that no one has it made. Life is hard and regardless of what we read and imagine about the wonderful life of others is for the most part bull. This points out that Richard, Ianthe and most of Richard's friends struggled the same as the rest of us who didn't make the "fame and fortune" chart.

The details in the book are beyond belief a piece of research of the first order. There is humor and enough sadness for me for the rest of the year. It is a major insight into the man behind a legend I so admired for the past 45 or more years. I still do, maybe even more after this book.

This has helped me to better understand his writings and what he was trying to tell me. Most of all I can now go back and reread his work and take it for what it is. Injecting nothing of my own stuff into it and just listening to the author and his meticulous selection of words.

If I had a chance to meet "Gatz" I would just say thank you for this great piece of work about my friend I never met and if I ever met Ianthe I would tell her how much I admire what she has done with her life. Personally, I think she is perhaps even more remarkable than her Father. What a journey they all had.

If you have any knowledge of Richard Brautigan or if you want a detailed history of the times buy the book. You will not regret it. Lastly, thank you Gatz. I enjoyed every page.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Caught between Beats and Hippies 4 Dec. 2012
By '92 Sportster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was curious about Jubilee Hitchhiker when I read a review of it that said it covered the Beats well. I've read the Beats since childhood (probably ruined my life) and am still surprised at the amount of ink spilled on them every year, even as they all die off. Never a big fan of Brautigan, I was aware of him as a peripheral Beat and I met an old running buddy of his, Greg Keeler, at a book signing in Montana, so I decided to take a chance on "Jubilee".

In Keeler's remembrance of Brautigan published in 2004, "The Captain and Me", he mentions that Hjortsberg was working on a biography and had been doing so for some time. Eight years later Jubilee Hitchhiker at 800+ pages is the result. It is detailed to the point of obsession citing such trivia as the cost of his lunch on a particular day or the price of a hotel room in San Francisco in 1973 ($23!!). It captures an era, filling in the blanks in the lives of many Beats and the transition to the hippie movement. It details that Brautigan never considered himself either, he was laughed at by Ginsberg, but became an icon of the flower children, though he didn't do psychedelics, but does so at the cost of clarity.

It is difficult to follow the timeline of events with a multitude of characters interacting over a number of years, but the thing that never changes is Brautigan's thirst for alcohol and the resulting high octane temper tantrums that caused him to immediately sever ties with numerous friends he had known for years. Brautigan was a manipulator, not a particularly nice guy who knew from an early age he was going to kill himself. An obsession with Hemingway dictated the timing and the method and he became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you're a fan of Brautigan you will want to read this. If you're interested in the Beats, the middle section is a good read. If you don't fit either category you'll probably want to pass
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Cautionary Tale 1 Oct. 2012
By Russet Mantelclad - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Brautigan wrote short poems, short novels, and short short stories. So I was a little surprised that Hjortsberg's excellent biography is almost as long as Boswell's Life of Johnson. But it's worth the effort. Brautigan was a lyric impressionist, a miniaturist (and a real hippie), and I'm left with the impression that he just couldn't survive outside the sixties. The other notable writers of his generation were turning their careers around by offering the public THE BIG NOVEL--the big ambitious novel that the agents and publishers and publicists can get behind. But by the time he needed most to salvage his career, Brautigan just didn't have a big novel in him. This is the sad story of a writer who outlived his fame, then outlived his talent, then outlived his money. Decades of raging, uncontrolled alcoholism had a lot to do with that, but Hjortsberg doesn't judge, doesn't editorialize, and doesn't make any excuses for his friend. His reporting is merciless, but his treatment of Brautigan is ultimately compassionate.
It's been a long time since I've re-read So the Wind Won't Blow it all Away, but at the time I felt that it was his best book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Longest Book I Ever Read, Then Turned Right Over and Read Again! 13 July 2014
By Washington Patty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A long time fan of everything Richard Brautigan wrote, I was excited to read about this biography. When I realized how long the actual volume was, I admit that it was daunting - after all Brautigan's writing thrives on brevity, white space, a minimalist approach. However, I started this enormous tome while on a road trip, and by the time I reached home I was hopelessly addicted. I could hardly put the book down, and read it until the end, although it took quite awhile! Why did it grab hold of me and not let go? First, because I loved Richard Brautigans poetry and novels for all these many decades, and it was a way of having a little more of him, not quite having to let go, which I had a hard time doing in 1984 and have never really succeeded at since. Second because I am a San Francisco native and was there at all the concerts and events and places that are talked about. I lived in the Haight, I hung out in North Beach as long as it lasted, and I was a student at SF State - all the places and local color that comes alive in this wonderful book and brought my past back to me in technicolor, but which simultaneously made me more homesick for a place, a time, a way of being and seeing, that are gone and can never be again, and that part was painful. From the reawakened memories came some insights I would never have reached had I not read this book, and had I not kept reading even during the parts that made me cry. Still I read on, and the journey Richard Brautigan took became my journey after he left the part we shared, and helped me understand and appreciate his writing even more than before, which I never would have thought possible. I would recommend this wonderful life story to everyone. Fans of Richard Brautigan, cohabitants of his past, appreciators of poetry and originality, all must absolutely read this great book. And everyone else....don't cheat yourself out of this wonderful opportunity to explore the heart and soul of a true genius, artist, and deeply human man.
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