Hjortsberg on Brautigan: Jubilee Hitchhiker

Mar 15, 2012 | Events

William "Gatz" Hjortsberg

Livingston author William “Gatz” Hjortsberg will read from his epic biography of the late poet and novelist Richard Brautigan, Jubilee Hitchhiker (Counterpoint, 2012) at the Blue Slipper Theatre, 113 E. Callender St., on Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m.

Brautigan, whose 1967 novel Trout Fishing in America is widely considered a classic, lived in a cottage near Pine Creek and haunted Livingston’s bars and streams before his suicide in 1984. His few years here coincided with the heyday of the Montana Gang (when writers, artists and movie people like Hjortsberg, Tom McGuane, Russell Chatham and Sam Peckinpah began calling Park County home), which presaged the rise of Livingston’s current artistic community.

Though Hjortsberg has written many other books (including Falling Angel, upon which the movie Angel Heart was based) Jubilee Hitchhiker was his Moby Dick. The considerably trimmed 880-page tome was two decades in the writing, and tested the patience of many editors before finding its home at Counterpoint. In it, Hjortsberg ventures far beyond his own friendship with Brautigan to create a comprehensive portrait of an enigmatic man.

Booklist calls Jubilee Hitchhiker “an exceptionally intimate, vital, meticulous, and involving biography and anecdotal chronicle of the West Coast literary counterculture… Hjortsberg delves incisively into Brautigan’s volatile friendships and doomed marriages, struggles to get published, leeriness of fame, heavy drinking and increasingly disturbing behavior, concluding that Brautigan, for all the whit and whimsy of his work, was forever haunted by the ‘bleakness’ of his childhood. A prodigious work of scholarship, remembrance and empathy.”

Seating for the event is first come, first served, with theater doors opening at 6:30. Hjortsberg’s reading is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book signing and reception at Elk River Books, next door to the Blue Slipper Theatre.


  1. Mr. Hjortsberg is also responsible for one of the trippiest SF novels I’ve ever read, GRAY MATTERS. Literate and highly original. A true cult classic…but deserves to be so much more. Due for rediscovery, I’m certain of it.

    I always find it remarkable when an author can work successfully in a number of genres and here’s Mr. Hjortsberg, who’s tackled horror, mystery, SF, biography, etc. and distinguished himself every time.

    He sets the bar high and keeps his own counsel.

    Young authors, please take note…

  2. Thanks for your comments. We’ll be sure to pass them along to Gatz.


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