Author to read from Brautigan biography

Advance copies of book will be on sale at museum

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



If you go

What: William Hjortsberg reads from his biography of Richard Brautigan

Where: Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St.

When: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday

Admission: $4 adults, $3 seniors/students, $2 children, $10 families; members free.

A close friend of Richard Brautigan will read from his biography of the late author and poet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Clark County Historical Museum.

William Hjortsberg is author of “Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan.”

The event also will be an advance book launch. The 896-page “Jubilee Hitchhiker” will not be available in bookstores until April 10, but copies are on sale for $38 at the museum, 1511 Main St., and will be available Saturday.

Brautigan was born in Spokane in 1935 and died in 1984 in California. His body was found in his secluded home about a month after he shot himself. He is best known for his novel “Trout Fishing in America.”

News accounts indicated that Brautigan had been depressed as U.S. audiences lost interest in his work and had been drinking heavily.

However, he was very popular in Japan and still is, museum director Susan Tissot said.

A team from a Japanese high-end style publication -- Huge magazine -- visited Vancouver in April 2011 to see the Brautigan Library housed in the museum.

The team met with Brautigan expert John Barber, a faculty member in Washington State University Vancouver’s creative media and digital culture program. The Brautigan Library was part of an article on the West Coast in Huge’s July issue.

A museum news release noted that when Brautigan took his own life at age 49, those close to him were devastated but not surprised. “To many, Brautigan was enigmatic, erratic, and unpredictable in his habits and presentation.

“But his career was formidable, an inspiration to young writers like Hjortsberg trying to get their start, weaving its way through both the Beat-influenced San Francisco Renaissance in the 1950s and the ‘Flower Power’ hippie movement of the 1960s.”

The reading by Hjortsberg, who lives in Montana, will double as a family visit; his wife has relatives in Clark County.

The Brautigan Library is a partnership of the museum, the Brautigan estate and WSUV’s creative media and digital culture program.

Two documentary films are being made about Brautigan, including one produced by his daughter, Ianthe Brautigan Swenson, and her husband, Paul Swenson. Portions were filmed in the museum.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558;;