Saturday, February 6, 2021

Book review: Following Richard Brautigan by Corey Mesler


In my Kerouacian journey, I have occasionally happened upon the name, Richard Brautigan, but I must confess I have never read any of his work. That is ending today as I just received his Trout Fishing in America in the mail. Why? Because of the mysteries that unfold if you say yes.

I said yes to an author, Ken Janjigian, who asked me to review his book, A Cerebral Offer, and that manifested this past week HERE. What I neglected to mention in that review was that the publisher, for some reason I can only guess at, included with my review copy of Janjigian's book a copy of Following Richard Brautigan (FRB) by Corey Mesler (Livingston Press, 2010). This was my inspiration to order Brautigan's book (which also includes The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster and In Watermelon Sugar).

I started reading FRB yesterday and finished it today (202 pages). It's a delightful read, zany yet articulate, recounting the youthful adventures of the narrator (yes, it's yet another first-person novel), Jack, as he travels to San Francisco in search of Brautigan, fails but falls in love with the mesmerizing and sexy Sharilyn, returns home to Oklahoma City where he subsequently is haunted by Brautigan's ghost and follows him back to San Francisco (and Sharilyn, too) in a buddy road saga that ranks right up there with the best of them. 

Grab a dictionary or keep Google handy while reading this engaging story. These are just a few of the words I was unsure of along the way: ensorcelled, decuman, halidom, euchologion, propylaeum, ostiary, agley, velleities, prothalamion, escritoire, pizzle, fuliginous, pellucid, sortilege, theurgy, benison, colubrine, adjuvant, suppurated, campestral, gunsel, thaumaturgy, ecdysiast (who knew there was a fancy name for stripper?), cozenage, ridotto, and tumulus. It's okay to say you are unsure of a word, especially if you look it up and learn it.

But don't let that dissuade you from getting a copy -- it's very readable despite the high-level vocabulary. There are plenty of literary references, too, and remember that Google is your friend in this regard.

Along the way are plenty of heartbreaks and laughs. Check out the reviews on Amazon to get a good sense of what Mesler has created here. Like Jack Kerouac, he writes prose like a poet. His writing is Brautigan-esque according to some reviewers, but I cannot (yet) attest to that similarity. I hope to find out for myself once I dig into my Brautigan book.

I highly recommend Following Richard Brautigan. I'm pretty sure that if you dig Kerouac, you'll dig this book.

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