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I Just Hitched in from the Coast: The Ed McClanahan Reader Paperback – October 11, 2011
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McClanahan’s name isn’t widely known, but those who are familiar with him know that he is a master of comic fiction and humorous essays. This new collection of previously published writing collects some of each. Among the highlights are McClanahan’s 2002 memoir, “Fondelle; or, The Whore with a Heart of Gold”; the short stories“Juanita and the Frog Prince” (in which the author writes in the voice of the prince: “now she’s went and got herself pragnent”) and “The Essentials of Western Fiction” (with characters including college president August L. Shitemeister, young Dr. Toddle, and Dr. Nelson R. Peckler, head of the history department); and the author’s tribute to his good friend, Ken Kesey, called “Ken Kesey, Jean Genet, the Revolution, et Moi.” Readers familiar with Kesey and Jack Kerouac will be on solid ground here—though McClanahan’s writing isn’t quite so aggressively stream-of-consciousness. Counterculture icons are a vanishing breed, so it’s good to find one of them still going strong and thoroughly crazy after all these years. --David Pitt
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From here, I will confess that I do hope the author is indeed writing from his imagination when it comes to the family of "Skirvins" who are described in one story as poorhouse vagrants. Being a Kentucky historian, it called up one of my memories of old research I'd done about Absolom Skirvin, who was the first Sheriff of Grant County, Kentucky. He built their first log jail too. A little digging (with the help of my ever insatiable curiosity) turned up a Joel Skirvin who was murdered on August 15, 1864 for being on the "wrong side" during the Civil War. What side was the "wrong side?" Well, let's just say that even the clergy weren't exempt from being forced to choose a side. It was a war that drove people and even families apart. There's a roadside marker put up by the state that reads in part: "Geo. W. Wainscott, Wm. Lingenfeltger and John W. Lingenfelter executed at Williamstown, Grant co., by order of Gen. Burbridge - in retaliation for the murder of Joel Skirvin and Andrew Simpson, by guerrillas." It seems there was no less than thirteen Skirvins who served in the Civil War, all of them blood related, but not all on the same side of the conflict. The more I look into this stuff for this review, the more curious I have become. I'm afraid this fictional book has made me want to dive into my stacks again and find out more about the northern KY families and see how much more I can find on the way the Civil War ruined families and friends.
This just goes to show how one book can open doors to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. You may find that those rollicking trips down his country roads, fraught with old wagon ruts that make traveling page by page bumpy and uncomfortable, might actually lead you to a conclusion you didn't expect and doors that open on new concepts.
I will reserve the last two stars of my review since I've not yet read the entire book. I like to give my reviews based on the entirety of a work, not a mere sample, as to do so would be unfair to the author. I would much rather see each stroke, and each layer of color laid upon the canvas of the story, and then step back and see the final work as a completed thing, and let the experience of the whole dictate my opinion.
There's a new generation, with a new explanation
So if you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
Before there was an Occupy Wall Street, or the 1967 Summer of Love, there was the Merry Prankster, a group of hipsters and writers surrounded by writer Ken Kesey.
The Pranksters had an important historic role as they were considered the bridge between the beatnik movement and the hippie movement. Their exploits were chronicled in many great book's including Tom Wolfe's great book, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test.
There is a lesson that Occupy Wall Street can take from the Flower Power movement: The Flower power people won. The war ended.
The hippie movement was a catalyst for bringing an end to the Vietnam war. They also created a cultural, fashion, literary and musical changes, many that have held up for the 44 years since the Summer of Love.
It also seems preordained that the great Merry Prankster, Ed McClanahan, just released his new book, I Just Hitched In From The Coast, at the same time the Occupy Wall Street movement arose.
McClanahan noted that he was more of a lover than a fighter. In separate, humorous chapters about how he almost burned his draft card but backed out and a day when Ken Kesey invited some radical black panthers to visit, McClanahan showed that he was not one to duke it out.
He wasn't punching police but scoring points for society in his own easy-going, friendly way. McClanahan, known as Captain Kentucky during his flower power days, new book is a "greatest hits" from a storied literary career that includes several books, award winning features for Esquire and Playboy and his novel, The Natural Man which was universally considered a classic from the day it was released.
McClanahan, reminds us that rebelling against authority does not have to involve violence, anger or even a well defined plan. The Merry Pranksters were against the war but they were mainly a bunch of great writers having a great time. That great time inspired a generation to make real and meaningful change.
In my new best seller, Wealth Without Wall Street: A Main Street Guide to Making Money, one of my primary themes is that how you live your life makes a political statement.
The Pranksters were an important point in McClanahan's life but not the stopping point. Most of his greatest work, such as The Natural Man, were written after the Summer of Love came to an end and the chapters of I Just Hitched in From The Coast reflect Ed's long and storied career.
Even if you don't have the slightest interest in Occupy Wall Street, I just Hitched in From The Coast is a great read. Entertaining, fun and written in a style that comes across an unusual friend with the gift of being a great storyteller.
If you are interested in advancing the cause of Occupy Wall Street, definitely read the book. It is not a primer for radicals or even intensely political but does allow you to glimpse a man who was part of a movement that changed the course of American history.
The same way the Occupy Wall Street protesters do.
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the bestselling author of the book Wealth Without Wall Street: McNay, who lives in Richmond Kentucky, an award-winning financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor. You can learn more about him at [...]
He is the Chairman of the Board for the McNay Settlement Group ([...]) which provides structured settlement consulting for injury victims, lottery winners, and the families of special needs children.
McNay founded Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC, which assists attorneys in as conservators and setting up guardianship's. It is nationally recognized as an administrator of Qualified Settlement (468b) funds.