Richard Fariña: lost genius who bridged the gap between beats and hippies

He was Thomas Pynchon’s roommate, he hung out with Bob Dylan and wrote an American cult classic, yet Fariña is a name few know outside of literary circles. That’s something that should change

On 30 April 1966, at around lunchtime, Richard Fariña sat down at a table at the Thunderbird bookstore and cafe in Carmel, California, to sign copies of his freshly minted first novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, published just two days before.

The sky was blue and California-cloudless, and Fariña, 29, had organised a surprise 21st birthday party for his wife Mimi, the sister of Joan Baez. Fariña signed copy after copy of his novel, the dedication page of which read: “This one is for Mimi.”

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