WHAT IF YOU set out to follow in the footsteps of a literary hero from your youth and discovered things in his work that you had never noticed before, things that were not only unappealing but also morally questionable? Let’s say he’s a misogynist and racist jerk. Let’s say that makes you uneasy; you find it difficult to separate the artist from the art. Is it possible to continue to enjoy his work or do you write off your hero and toss the lot in the rubbish pile?
In her memoir, The Ghosts Who Travel with Me: A Literary Pilgrimage Through Brautigan’s America, author Allison Green faces just such a conundrum. In 2008, Green picked up the Sunday travel section of The New York Times and read Lawrence Downes’s piece about making a pilgrimage to Manzanillo, Mexico, to summon author and counterculture icon Ken Kesey, who had once holed up there for months evading incarceration for marijuana possession. A sidebar suggested three books that might call readers to the open road, including Richard Brautigan’s 1967 cult novel Trout Fishing in America. Green’s curiosity was piqued: as a schoolgirl, she’d read Brautigan obsessively. His spare and quirky prose presented an aesthetic and a time (the Age of Aquarius) during which she would have liked to have come of age…
Read more of my review of Allison Green’s memoir, The Ghosts Who Travel With Me: A Literary Pilgrimage Through Brautigan’s America HERE in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Book review published by the Los Angeles Review of Books, November 2015