In all of the obituaries and writing about Richard Brautigan that appeared after his suicide, none revealed to Ianthe Brautigan the father she knew. Though it took all of her courage, she delved into her memories, good and bad, to retrieve him and began to write. You Can't Catch Death is a frank, courageous, heartbreaking reflection on both a remarkable man and the child he left behind.
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Astute, Bright, and Sorrowful
Richard Brautigan was one of my first literary loves. His novels and poetry inspired me, as a teenager, to become a poet and writer myself. His daughter, Ianthe Brautigan, has her own rich, poetic style and her memoir stands on its own merit.
Ianthe was close to her father, and like many children of alcoholics and divorce, she was put in the role of nurturer at an early age. She speaks from the beginning of being lost at parties and her father's "kid in a candy store" glee when stocking up on alcohol. Even so, her love for and appreciation of her father are clear from the first lines. The grief she feels when he pulls away and ends communication and for his suicide is heartbreaking.
Brautigan relates the oddness and elation of being brought up rootless in the sixties counter-culture, from San Francisco's old-world North Beach, Idaho, Japan, and Hawaii, Ianthe has a crisp memory for detail, and brings the viewpoint of the child she was along with the perspective of time.
This memoir is an exploration of the fault lines in her family going back generations and a navigation of the grief caused by her ailing father. Suicide and alcoholism run right through the audiobook, but somehow, they don't bring it down. Ianthe finds the brightness in all the dark places.
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