The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan


After he died, the friends of Richard Brautigan gathered at Enrico’s, Richard’s favorite San Francisco bar, to drink his spirit to rest. Some famous people were there, movie people, poets and writers, some old hippies from times gone by, one of Richard’s ex-wives, several girlfriends and a double handful of the alcoholic idealists whom Richard collected like spare change. The bartender wore an electric tie. They talked about why Richard died, and what killed him. Some blamed Ernest Hemingway, but most of them spoke of alcohol, women — and ghosts. Now Richard was his own ghost, and he walked through Enrico’s with a glass in his hand, a little drunk already, collecting memories of himself. He was always vain that way: he could never pass a mirror or even a shop window without casting a glance at his reflection. And he was morbid as well. How could he miss his own wake? It was a party he had planned for himself, a bon voyage for a man who had never fit comfortably into life. But it was also, Richard’s ghost remembered sourly, a party five weeks late in starting. When his body lay rotting on the floor of his house in Bolinas, where were his friends then? Richard’s ghost eavesdropped on the obligatory anecdotes, the little tales his friends traded of Richard’s fame, and his fall from fame. They talked about his generosity but also about his legendary stinginess. Some knew him as a wealthy man, others as a near beggar. Some spoke of his love of life, others remembered his longing for death. They were trying to piece his life together, yet their stories were like the shards of two different pots: How could they have contained a single man? Why did he fail? Why did he kill himself? What was his problem with love? Questions floated about, unasked and unanswered. Richard’s ghost turned away and went looking for himself at the bar. One of the tricks of death is holding on to time. …”
Rolling Stone

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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