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Author Egolf Dead at 33

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Tristan Egolf, 33, of Lancaster, Penn, one of the more promising young literary writers, has apparently ended his own life.

While a lot of the current “literary” or so-called serious novels are pretty much a wash of boring stories about women finding self-confidence and men finding how to deal with their own aging and mortality, Egolf’s work was fun and powerful.

The SFGate.com reported the long trail it took Egolf to get his work published. After sending Lord of the Barnyard to more then 70 publishers he finally met a french author Patrick Modiano while playing his guitar on the streets of Paris. Modiano gets Egolf’s book published in France and it eventually spreads throughout Europe and back to America.

Beyond being a powerful writer he was also a talented musician. He was a front man for two bands, wrote a rock opera and had finished the screenplay for his book Lord of the Barnyard. In his spare time he found time to be a political activist and was once arrested for protesting President Bush.

Egolf apparently shot himself in the head on Mothers Day. According to reports he was slipping deeper into depression and his friends worried about him.

“He pushed the envelope wherever he went,” friend Michael Hoober told the Associated Press. “His creativity was always right in front of him, but somewhere in there it started to fall apart.”

More information about Egolf can be found at the website he helmed, Windmills.

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About Eric James

  • What is going on with liberal writers and suicide lately?

  • Wait a minute, Matt. There is alot about this PR hype back story of how Egolf got “discovered” that has not been accurately reported in the US media at all!

    See the blog here

    1. His book was not rejected by 76 publishers, just 3 or 4. the book machine PR machine was just fudging the numbers to give him the hero artist myth legend status back in 1999. This pressure of living up to the myth might have been too much for him to bear, among other things.

    2. He was not “discovered” by French writer one day while busking under the bridge in Paris. This is another PR lie. Check out the Google info on him. In fact, the process unfolded over 8 months, and at first, he became friends with the writer’s daughter. Only later, did he meet the father.

    3. Why on Earth and how did Gallimard the French publisher spend so much money on giving Egolf the French translator of the works of Saul Bellow and Franzen, when Tristan was at that time an unknown unproven risk? Gallimard has to dish.

    4. Tristan was a genius, a great writer, a man of wonderful energy. It is sad that he took his own life, but I guess, like his friends say, the demons finally caught up with him. But even the AP story about his suicide was not factual, they misquted a friend of Tristan and they referred to him as his therapist, when he was not. AP goofed bigtime here.

    5. Why did the media not talk much about his political activism in the suicide obit?

    6. A good man died. DIY self-termination, as some call it these days. But what about the true back story of his life? Someone should one day tell the truth. It might help prevent other people from buckling under the stress of too much expectations from the PR machines of hypedom…

    7. Sigh

  • dan bloom


    for example, this PR fib from the SFGATE 1999 site is just pure hype, not true at at all:

    “Tristan Egolf, a 27-year-old Pennsylvania native, his unagented manuscript rejected by more than 70 U.S. publishers, gets “discovered” by the daughter of French author Patrick Modiano while Egolf strums his guitar on the streets of Paris. ”

    See blogsite here for more details:


    Egolf was a talented writer, and his books deserve a wide readership, yes, and so sad that he checked out early. yes yes yes. But there was a huge mythmaking star machine behind his debit back in 1999 that was perhaps responsible for adding pressure to his early life as young writer. Facts were twisted, exaggerated and trumped up just to make it sound like the NExt Big Thing had arrived, and all the media and reviewers and interviewers followed suit, taking the PR machine’s numbers and back story as gospel. They were not true.

    There is much more here than meets the eye. I hope someday a good newspaper or monthly magazine or website will devote some space to telling the tragic story of Egolf’s life. Without the hype. The tragic and the talented life of Tristan Egolf.

    I’d write it but I can’t type.

  • Adrian Byles

    The growing legend of Tristan Egolf . . .


    Stories about the death of Tristan Egolf continue to appear with new or sometimes different information, although the first few paragraphs of yesterday’s Los Angeles Times report by Valerie J. Nelson bear a startling resemblance to Saturday’s Associated Press wire story (see yesterday’s MobyLives news digest), including a quote from Egolf’s friend Michael Hoober, which Nelson says he made to the Times but which are exactly the same as a quote Hoober gave the AP.


    In any event, Nelson goes on to detail the growing legend of Egolf: “After 76 publishers had rejected the novel, Egolf was playing guitar for money on a bridge in Paris when a young woman noticed his cold, sockless feet and invited him for coffee. Her father happened to be a prize–winning author, Patrick Modiano, who took Egolf’s book to his French publishing house, which agreed to publish it.” Original reports put Egolf’s rejection at 70 publishers; Egolf’s bio note posted at the website of his American publisher, *Grove Atlantic, puts it at “more than 70,” [*IT HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN NOW…] and says only his “discovery” while “busking to pay his rent on the Pont des Arts” saved him. In a 1999 interview with Teenja.com, Egolf himself tells a far calmer story: he met Modiano’s daughter while playing in public and got to know the family over a period of years. As for the multiple rejections: he says it may have been 76 total, but he sometimes got multiple form rejections from one publisher, and he also got some encouraging notes. On the whole, he says, “I’d wager that of those seventy–six rejections, only three or four people had actually looked at the book. In the end, I think it got picked up pretty fast.”

  • Look I don’t know about Egolf’s past, all I know is when talented young writers committes suicide it scares me. That and I have Lord of the Barnyard sitting on my bookshelf in the “Books to be read” pile.

  • QUOTE:
    “Look I don’t know about Egolf’s past, all I know is when talented young writers committes suicide it scares me. That and I have Lord of the Barnyard sitting on my bookshelf in the “Books to be read” pile.”

    Matt, I agree. It’s scary and sad that he committed suicide so young. Just 33. A whole life to live and more books to write. And a movie to make. AM just curious what really happened. It might help others in the future find their way out of depression.


  • Susan Arronde


    Not that anyone cars, but there really *is* a wild and only-in-America backstory about Tristan Egolf’s
    life and suicide, it now turns out after reviewing material on the
    Internet, from Google searches to Yahoo windows, and even though the
    American media has
    still not reported much on this after he killed himself earlier in the
    year, May 7 is the date, so here is some more information. Use it as you will. This is all
    meant as a healing prayer, and not to inflict pain on anywhere
    anywhere. Peace.

    According to the Internet, Tristan Egolf was the biological son of the
    writer and journalist
    Brad Evans, and his paternal grandfather is a man still living named Warren “Bing”
    Evans…of WWII
    Darby’s Rangers. Earlier reports mentioned that Tristan’s natural
    father was a journalist in Europe when Tristian was born there, but
    these reports never identified him by name. Nor did they tell us that
    his natural father committed suicide in 1987…

    Brad Evans was a brilliant
    writer (Norman Mailer once sent him a fan letter about Brad’s published short
    stories), and he also worked as a roving political campaign manager
    and newspaper op-ed writer for
    some ultra-right-wingers, so much so that he incurred the warth of
    famous West Coast liberal attorney Gloria Allred.
    According to those who knew him, Tristan’s father Brad Evans was a
    brawny 6’6″ blond, bearded Viking/Hemingwayesque macho man (think
    with the bulls in Pamplona, and stuff like that, all true), and he was
    also international traveller adventurer (including
    rebuilding post-earthquake villages in Guatemala as a volunteer with Catholic
    charities. Brad Evans once personally met with PLO leader Yassir
    Arafat during the early 1980s
    in Beirut—- and there are photos somewhere of this, even!).

    In addition, Tristan’s godfather was William F. Buckley, the famous
    conservative writer and publisher of The National Review — Brad Evans
    was once close friend of Willim F. Buckley.

    In addition, according to the Internet, “California” magazine
    published two articles about Brad Evans’ flamboyant, gifted life and
    personal style during the early-mid-1980s, when he was working as a
    campaign manager for ultra-rightwing Senator John Schmitz of Orange
    Richard Trainor was the reporter who covered Evans, and the pieces he
    wrote were high drama, indeed. In fact, they were eerily
    prognosticative, one might say, upon reading them now.

    – Hide quoted text –

    In Tristan’s short yet promising life, there was truly an epic and synergistic
    story of an amazing family tapestry going on, but the media has never
    told us about this. Not during his emergence as a daring, creative
    novelist, and not after his tragic suicide in February 2005. But now
    you know some more facts about his life and maybe readers can put
    things together and come up with a better understanding of the life
    and death of Tristan Egolf.

    Some observers have noted that the PR machinery that hyped Tristan’s
    acclaimed novels while he was alive was in fact remarkably and grimly
    involved in the
    demise of a very gifted father and son, both of whom were sufferers of
    depression and a kind of cerebral self-immolation. Rest in peace,
    Tristan Egolf, son of Brad Evans.

    Now we know….the rest of the

    Creative spirits like Tristan Egolf often become image-led due to “audience”
    pressure and performance-expectation, some obesrvers have said
    elsewhere. How true! The “rest of the story” you have just read above
    a kind of beauty, perhaps Byronic even, to our view of the life of
    Tristan Egolf, and this part of his life should be public knowledge,

    Of couse, like all people, everyone is saddened by Tristan’s gruesome choice of
    exit-strategies, and now his young daughter will have to endure some
    painful difficulties as she grows up into a young adult later, and
    comes to know the true nature of her father’s life and death
    One can only offer heartfelt prayers and profound condolences to
    Tristan’s innocent child
    and her heartbroken mother. May he rest in eternal peace, and may
    there be closure all around, among Tristan’s many fans and readers,
    among his publishers both in Europe and in the USA, and among literary
    critics and reviewers around the world. And, of course, for his

    family, mother, father, sister, grandparents, half-brother, daughter Orly and Orly’s mom Karla, all…… There is no doubt that
    Tristan Egolf was loved by many.

  • alain lebrun

    A tragic, and familial, ending

    By Alex Beam,
    Boston Globe Columnist
    June 30, 2005

    The recent death of 33-year-old Tristan Egolf, a novelist cursed with promise at an early age, has given rise to a literary detective story. Obituaries published last month failed to name Egolf’s birth father, Brad Evans, a flamboyant writer, political activist, and right-wing adventurer who shared many of his son’s gifts and demons — and who, like his son, died by his own hand.

    Egolf’s brief life story reads like a fairy tale. A punk rocker turned street busker in Paris, he struck up an acquaintance with the daughter of Patrick Modiano, a prominent French author and screenwriter (”Lacombe Lucien”). Modiano helped publish Egolf’s first novel, ”Lord of the Barnyard,” in France. Subsequently published in Britain and the United States, ”Barnyard” received gushing reviews. Le Monde likened Egolf to Mark Twain, J.P. Donleavy, and Cormac McCarthy. The French daily and the Times of London both compared Egolf — presciently, it turned out — to John Kennedy Toole, the talented New Orleans novelist who killed himself at age 32.

    Outside his writing, Egolf achieved some renown as a political agitator. In July 2004, Egolf and a group of friends — the ”Smoketown Six” — were arrested in Lancaster, Pa., for stripping down to thong underwear and piling on top of one another during a visit by President Bush, to protest the treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Also last year, he organized an anti-Columbus Day rally and burned President Bush in effigy. You can hear Egolf discuss his protests on his multimedia website, windmillsonline.us.

    The trajectory of Egolf’s life eerily parallels that of his birth father, Evans, who was divorced from Egolf’s mother, Paula, when Tristan was a little boy. (Tristan was adopted by his stepfather, Gary Egolf.) Evans was a University of Louisville football star who worked on riverboats and at a small newspaper in Kentucky before drifting into the ambit of William F. Buckley’s National Review magazine. Buckley’s sister Patricia and her husband, L. Brent Bozell Jr., were Tristan’s godparents.

    Moving further to the right in a society that was tilting leftward, Evans became a speechwriter for right-wing politicians and a publicist/activist for extreme-right fringe groups such as Bozell’s militantly prolife Sons of Thunder, which had declared ”a state of war” between the Catholic Church and the US government. At the end of his life, Evans claimed to have been engaging in paramilitary operations in Central America, according to his father, Warren Evans, and Amber Faith, the mother of Brad Evans’s third child. All of his children — Tristan, Gretchen, and Siegfried — were named after characters from Wagner operas. ”He was very Wagnerian,” says Faith, who lived with Evans for six years.

    ”Brad was approached constantly by these soldier-of-fortune types — they really freaked me out,” says Faith, who ended her relationship with Evans shortly before his death from a drug overdose in 1987. ”He died under questionable circumstances,” says his father. ”It was called suicide.”

    To what extent, if any, was Tristan Egolf’s swashbuckling literary and political lifestyle influenced by his father? The two met only a few times before Evans’s death, although Tristan later developed a close relationship with his Evans grandparents, living on a farm near them in Indiana a few years ago. ”I had the feeling that Tristan had a crush on Brad,” says his godmother, Patricia Bozell. ”Brad was this wonderful, Errol Flynn-like guy. Can you imagine being his son?” ”He remembered his dad very well and rather idolized him,” Warren Evans says. ”They were a fascinating and, for a grandfather, a sometimes heartbreaking story.”

    Why was Brad Evans purged from his son’s obituaries? ”I’m speculating, but I think Paula didn’t want to share her grief with us,” Warren Evans says. ”I know the family has been extremely tight-lipped about Tristan’s father,” says Judy Hottensen, publicity director at Egolf’s publisher, Grove/Atlantic. Reached at her home in Lancaster, Pa., Tristan’s mother, Paula, decried the interest in her first husband and said, ”I am not going to tell you anything.”

    Tristan Egolf’s third novel, ”Kornwolf,” will be published in January.

    Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His email address is beam@globe.com

    [© Copyrighted 2005 Globe Newspaper Company]