Livingston Press, 2010
$16.95 paperback, $28.00 hardcover
“One always wonders, “What if?” What if Richard Brautigan had taken his own advice and not gone joy riding in the beautiful car called death. What if he had lived, and kept writing, long into the age where flowing digits replaced the winsome flowers. Brautigan, maven of the San Francisco countercultural zeitgeist, would have surely continued to write his spare themes of love, death, and how we are haunted by both. Surely also, he would have embraced the Internet, publishing his episodic narratives in blogs, chats, and other social networking spaces, holding us all in anticipation, waiting for the next installment. His poetic prose would have shimmered on our screens like cathedrals made from the crystal bones of birds. Alas, Richard, we hardly knew ye . . . But wait, here’s Corey Mesler, broken hearted, adrift between the living and the dead, lost, and like so many others, he finds a connection with Brautigan, a lampost on a foggy street, always, magically, lighting the way to the next corner, and beyond. Mesler’s novel, Following Richard Brautigan, answers the “what if” regarding novels Brautigan might have written. Uniquely individual in style and voice, yet resonating with the tone and whimsy of Brautigan, Mesler’s novel is a paen of the highest order, not to mention a travelogue of his own inner journey. Brautigan is there, every step of the way, often directing the eccentric life adventures meant to throw off the allure of death, even though he is but a ghost himself, a spirit with a mission in death as he was in life. If you know and appreciate Brautigan, read this book. Give it to your friends. Turn them on to both Brautigan and Mesler, who has surely taken up the torch left burning in the hallway of Brautigan’s dark seaside house, and gone exploring the upstairs rooms.”
—John Barber, Archivist and Curator, Brautigan Bibliography and Archive, and author of Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life
” If you love Richard Brautigan you’ll have fun reading Corey Mesler’s fictional tribute, Following Richard Brautigan. I’m going trout fishing today for short stories about water.”
—Alice Hoffman, author of Seventh Heaven and The Fisher King
“I genuinely adored this poignant and creatively dazzling novel by Corey Mesler who takes head-on a major narrative challenge and elegantly succeeds with it. This novel is a paen to youth: consider it “A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Vagabond.” …The comedy in the narrative, especially the Lone Ranger joke, by his well-named brother, Lark, left me laughing out loud repeatedly. Initially, as the story is narrated in the first-person singular, I was concerned that the narrative would become overly self-indulgent. But wisely the author backs away from the creative dangers manifest in a first-person narrative style and focused on his ghostly foil, a daunting proposition which the author manages to pull off authentically. I was much impressed by Mesler’s way with words and his daunting vocabulary amid a highly accessible, narrative structure. I enjoyed the realism of the dialogue and the round nuances of the primary characters…I sincerely entreat you to read Following Richard Brautigan as the odds are high that you will see yourself as a youth in your personal existential quest on every page of this great, dense, big-hearted and welcoming novel.”
—David Lentz, author of Bloomsday: The Bostoniad
“Corey Mesler has summoned up all the sad lost innocence and wry humor of the best of Brautigan. It’s a wistful, haunting novel that makes you laugh out loud, too.’ —Thomas Dyja, author of Meet John Trow and The Moon in Our Hands
“Like a knight setting off on a quest, a young poet named Jack takes to the road in search of Richard Brautigan. This, simply put, is the premise of Corey Mesler’s touching and whimsical novel. But this bare statement of the plot does not begin to convey the uniqueness of this paean to the lovesickness, horniness and poetry of youth. Following Richard Brautigan might be described as the literary equivalent of a buddy film – except that the narrator is a prose poet of the first order and the buddy is the ghost of Richard Brautigan who, like Vergil’s ghost in Dante’s poem, is a mentor both in the mysteries of the afterlife and of the poetic vocation. This is a magical book. I love it not only for the glories of the language, but above all because it so forcefully reminds me of the rhapsody and the pain of young manhood. I can think of no other book – except maybe the final chapters of Joyce’s Portrait – that so poignantly evokes the coming of age of a poet.” —Terry Bazes, author of Lizard World
“Mesler’s relationship with the pop culture of the 1960s and ’70s is an intimate one, yet the bits and pieces of music, fashion, film, literature and politics don’t come across as mere props. He has a talent for putting it all in a context that makes it seem as natural as a well-researched prop in a movie or television show. It adds to the story rather than overshadowing it. It’s a magic trick and Mesler is an adept magician.
(I don’t know what Mesler’s process is for writing, but I imagine him in a darkened room with three separate desks. On each desk sits a psychedelic-colored typewriter and in each typewriter is a sheet of yellow paper and on those sheets of yellow paper is a poem, short story or novel in progress. In my imagining, he types at one until an egg timer in his mind dings and he moves to the next. For twelve hours a day he does this and, once finished, he watches a movie with his daughter. It’s a Fellini movie. As each poem, short story or novel is finished, of course, it is published. At the end of Corey Mesler’s typewritten journey is our own treasure, dear reader. Now go and find it.)”
—Richard Alley, blogger at Urf! and columnist for The Commercial Appeal
Cover photography of Richard Brautigan by Erik Weber.