A Confederate General from Big Sur – Richard Brautigan (1965)


“This oddball comedy of a novel, written by A Confederate General from Big Sur, centers around Jesse’s interactions with the very eccentric vagabond known as Lee Mellon, reputed to be related to the obscure American Civil War general Augustus Mellon. There be drugs, gallons of booze, enticing women of many flavors, and a pretty accurate cultural snapshot of San Francisco, Oakland and the central California Coast near Big Sur that still applies in some respects today. There’s even alligators, frogs, Winchester rifles and singed eyebrows. It’s frank, visceral, and at times incredibly explicit. Moral ambiguity is rife throughout the book, which makes the characters fun and unpredictable. Throughout the book, the ‘Historical Accounts’ of Private Augustus Mellon are sprinkled liberally, differentiated by italicized text. They have an entertaining parallel to the life of Lee Mellon. Reviewers praise Brautigan’s authorship in these passages and say he provides a vividly accurate portrait of the Battle of the Wilderness. Published in 1964, it was apparently a ‘must read’ for the beat generation, and Brautigan’s unorthodox writing style treads the line between over-the-top bizarre to unexpectedly beautiful. It’s rife with metaphors and filled with hilarious observations. Amusingly, the Times said of the novel ‘Oh, it flows!’ …”
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The Art Of Exmouth
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