A Confederate General from Big Sur by Richard Brautigan

A Confederate General from Big Sur
By Richard Brautigan
Reviewed by J. Keith Jones

This little book is as strange as it is interesting. I did not know about Richard Brautigan until recently. When suddenly I heard about him from three different sources in the same week of having first heard the name, I decided that I had best check his work out. This long dead author was very much a product of the 1960s and this book written in 1964 strongly reflects it. Brautigan’s work is worth reading if only to drink in the creative metaphors he employs. His use of language is something to behold.

This book follows the narrator – a man named Jesse – in his friendship with a man named Lee Mellon. Lee Mellon is a drifter and con artist who is descended from a Confederate soldier named Augustus Mellon, who Lee Mellon swears was a general. However, as is often the case, many privates with over a century to work with end up in their family’s legends with significantly higher command and commiserate rank. Such is the case with Augustus Mellon, whose real story serves as a sub-text to the modern story of his ne’er-do-well descendent. We also discover that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree several generations later.

This book is a relatively short work and is a quick read. It makes an excellent choice for a weekend spent at the beach or in a mountain cabin.

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