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Brautigan

You have probably come across “Brautigan’s Ghost” on twitter: https://twitter.com/Kool_Aid_Wino, who posts his favourite quotes for us to enjoy. They appear as golden snippets of beauty in my twitter feed and I am always grateful.

If you missed it, Jay Gershwin broke his pattern of only tweeting Brautigan quotations, revealed himself a few weeks back and wrote a beautiful piece on why he does what he does. Like many of us, his experience of Brautigan spurred him to create for himself. He’s written a novel is available to download for 99 cents if you follow the link here. Read his essay below and follow him on twitter.

My Life with
Richard Brautigan

 

Dear Reader,

Three years ago, I launched the Twitter account @Kool_Aid_Wino as a tribute to Richard Brautigan, a man whose imagination shaped clouds and changed the course of my life.

Altogether, I’ve now tweeted over 800 quotes from his novels and poetry – often while sitting in the backseat of a cab or standing in line at the grocery store.

I was a 26-year-old failure living with my parents when I first discovered Brautigan.

I’d just finished graduate school and been promptly rejected from every single job I’d applied to, which left me free and clear to spend eight hours a day sprawled in my childhood bed reading through stacks of books I’d checked out from the library with my mother’s library card. One was Trout Fishing in America.

I didn’t like it.

When I finished reading, I remember tossing the little book onto my nightstand and thinking, “I wonder what that was about.” The whole thing seemed to have been written in a foreign language. I’d barely understood it.

But two months later I returned to Trout Fishing. I don’t know why. The book held a strangely beautiful mystery that’d left an echo in my mind I couldn’t hush. This time I finished in a few hours and quickly realized it wasn’t a novel, as I’d thought, it wasn’t a collection of ink and paper, but a secret world where language performed a private ballet and each sentence was a religion.

By that time I’d left my parents’ house and moved to a lonely apartment on the opposite side of America. I was alone in a wholly new city. I didn’t have any friends and didn’t know a single person except the old hippie who smiled at me from the covers of Brautigan’s books heaped at my bedside. For the next year I disappeared in those books. I drank the Kool-Aid and became a 21st century Brautiganite.

Two years later I finished writing my first novel.

I was lucky enough to attract a literary agent, who shipped the novel to nineteen different publishers. Over and again editors remarked on how “different” it was. Finally my agent asked me, “Who’s your favorite author?”

My response: A man who shot himself when I was five years old.

Brautigan is my mentor, friend, and as he himself might put it, “A distant relative, perhaps a cousin.” I can’t think of any other writer who’s had a greater impact on my life.

Recently, I finished a new novel, Sell Your Childhood. More than anything else I’ve written, the book signals the unique intimacy I’ve shared with Brautigan over the years. It’s a highly unusual book that took me nine lonesome years to write, though it’s slim enough to read in a single bathtub sitting. It’s the sort of novel I’ve always wanted to put down on paper. I only wish Brautigan were alive so I could send him a copy.

That’s why, in Brautigan’s spirit, I’d like to do something unusual, to thank you for being a Brautigan reader and supporting “Brautigan’s Ghost” on Twitter.

Normally, the price of Sell Your Childhood is $6.99.

But through this link, I’m making a special offer that allows you to download the book right now, for just 99¢. Publishers will think I’m a fool for doing this, but I don’t mind. Brautigan was famous for distributing his work in the streets.

At 99¢, today I’m essentially doing the same for my new book. I hope you enjoy it.

Sincerely,

Jay Gershwin
New York City

 

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