1935-1984 American writer, star of the Beat generation.

Around 1955-58 he moved to San Francisco and got involved with the poetry scene there. He took employment at any job he could find, including message delivery. There he met many people, including Michael McClure, Jack Spicer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Don Allen, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman, Kenneth Rexroth, and Philip Lamantia. He became a regular in the San Francisco poetry scene which was emerging at the time. He is reported to have had a very engaging delivery, he could hold a crowd.

His prose is what got my attention, A Confederate General From Big Sur is one of my favorite books. It's amazingly funny. He is an incredibly satirical and keen observer of human foibles. There are scenes in his books that make you laugh out loud and never forget.

In 1964, the year Ken Kesey is touring the country in the bus Furthur, Brautigan becomes involved with the Diggers group in San Francisco. They gave away mimeographed copies of his poems for free on the street.

In 1965 Grove Press published A Confederate General from Big Sur. This and Trout Fishing in America put Richard on the Literary map. Suddenly he was being mentioned in Life, Esquire and Rolling Stone. He bought a house, a ranch in Montana, and began to travel widely. Some would say his fame went to his head to some degree. He earned a lot of money and spent it at about the same rate. He had a lifelong problem with alcohol.

In 1966-67, he is poet in residence at the California Institute of Technology

In 1968 he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1972 he moved to his ranch in Pine Creek, Montana, just outside the Yellowstone National Park. Purportedly he refused all interviews for the next 8 years.

Some of his more famous titles include:

Some of his poems:

  • "Gee, You're so Beautiful That It's Starting to Rain"
  • "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace"
  • "General Custer Versus the Titanic"
  • "Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4"
  • "Horse Child Breakfast"
  • "Private Eye Lettuce"
  • "The Shenevertakesherwatchoff Poem"
  • The American Hotel Part 2

Very unique style, very funny. Akin to Tom Robbins only considerably more off the wall....

Friend of Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Falls under the category of Books you loan out to expand friends' minds, Also see: Six Gallery, City Lights Bookstore, American alcoholic writer stereotype


Source: McMichael, George, "Anthology of American Literature", Macmillan Publishing, NY, 1974 http://www.riza.com/richard/bio.shtml Last Updated 05.14.04

Richard Brautigan had a steadfast sense of humor. He shot himself in the head with a shotgun and his suicide note simply commented, "Messy, isn't it?"

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