|[ The Writer of The
Kool-Aid Wino ]
Early on a lazy Sunday afternoon
I stopped whatever I was doing (not much to be sure) and was shocked by
my brain dredging up a name that I hadn't thought of in years : Richard
Brautigan. It ' came at me like a thunderbolt'. It was 'completely out
of the blue'. It was also 'way too weird to mention'. And so on ad infinitum.
Last time I saw his name was on a tattered paperback that I'd stolen from
my high school library (but more of that later).
Brautigan was an LSD and marijuana
drenched writer, linked to the Beats and the nascent San Fransiscan psychedelic
scene. He wrote funny, slightly off beat novels, short stories and poems
with wonderfull titles like 'Trout Fishing In America' and 'A Confederate
General from Big Sur' that had somehow interesting cover photos with the
author posing stoicially (in typical late 60's garb reflecting a US pioneering
spirit) next to different women that he'd obviously had sex with. And these
books had a lot of sex in them - at least it seemed like a lot for someone
(like…ummmm, let's say. me, for example) who actually hadn't had sex at
the stage of reading the books.
But I can honestly say that
it wasn't prurience which made me love them. My friend Lindsay and I found
a couple of the novels in our High School library, tucked away in some
far corner where the Dewey decimal system put them. We picked them up,
scanned the covers with rabid eyes and instantly wanted them - 'like a
thunderbolt', I suppose. Borrowing them from the library just wasn't good
enough for some reason - we had to have them in our possession forever
more. So we tucked them down our trousers and left the library : we got
away with it too. We took them home, read them, then swapped them, then
read them again and again until, finally, Lindsay had just about enough
and gave his one to me. I just didn't care that I was depriving my school
'mates' of the priviledge of reading such glorious books - they were mine,
mine, all mine. [Please see this for more light fingered
adventures with literature].
Ofcourse, after remembering
all this, I got on the Internet and looked him up - which is often a mistake.
[Have a read of this
for a sample of his style which, I think, must have thoroughly infected
me without me knowing it].
It turns out that this much
loved writer of gloriously humorous and all too human books lost most of
his friends in the late 70s as he slowly turned into an absolute arsehole
and, in 1989, he commited suicide with a gun shot to the head.
I suppose there's gotta be a
moral in there for all nascent Cranky Old Bastards like me.