On Lawrence Wright’s “The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan” (Rolling Stone, April 1985)

Synopsis: Twentieth century poet and novelist Richard Brautigan’s claim to fame was his first novel, Trout Fishing in America, in 1967. From there, following a brief stint of fame, his life spun out of his grip with heavy drinking and his inability to stay in love with any of his wives. Friends say alcoholism and women killed him, but Richard Brautigan was a little more complicated than that.

When I met with Lawrence Wright last week, I asked him about how his writing style had changed over the years—there is a noticeable difference between his New Yorker stories now and his Rolling Stone material in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. But he told me that, at The New Yorker, he’s simply writing what he’s always felt attuned for, whereas at Rolling Stone, he didn’t feel that what he wanted to write fit their audience. He said he enjoyed his time there, but didn’t always enjoy the stories he pursued.

But this one is an exception, he said. While at Rolling Stone, he went through an experimental stage with his writing style. And here, it shines through: The lead is from the perspective of a dead man—Richard Brautigan at his favorite bar. Read the rest of this entry »