He was a meteor. He was an author of such works as Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar and The Hawkline Monster, wedged between the Beat Generation and the hippie movement. He showered readers of the 1960s and ’70s with inspiring spare, proletarian ideals in his novels. He was a poet who foreshadowed the vise-like, smothering grip that technology has over us today in the poem “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.” He was, as biographer and admirer William Hjortsberg noted in Jubilee Hitchhiker, a writer who combined an “easy offhand voice” with “concern for average working-class people, his matter-of-fact treatment of death, and his often-startling juxtaposition of wildly disparate images.” Then he was gone. Richard Brautigan — born in Tacoma, Washington, and raised in Eugene — took his life in September 1984. He was only 49. The cosmic arc of the meteor, as well as the potent work ethic that generated 10 novels and other published writings, had been falling to Earth before then. Sales of his work had dwindled. He battled depression, punctuated by alcoholism, and he had guns. Brautigan killed himself at his home in the Marin County coastal town Bolinas, California. But Brautigan,… Read full this story
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