Freak Story: 1967-1969

ABOUT Jim Musgrave

Jim Musgrave
James Musgrave (a.k.a. Efraim Zimbalist Graves) is an author and college educator in San Diego, California. His recent non-fiction title, The Digital Scribe: a Writer's Guide to Electronic Media (AP Professional, ISBN 0-12-512255-1) has been internationally published. He has a M.A. degree  More...



"This novel has everything: a coming of age story, a family drama, and a thriller, all in one splendid read!"

Freak Story: 1967-1969 wins Honorable Mention at 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

Buddy Hartman was adopted by a woman who wanted to get a child to please her husband. When the husband leaves, the woman becomes a prostitute to support herself, and then becomes an addict to soothe the pain. Buddy learns early that life teaches you to be selfish. However, it's Buddy's own drug abuse later in life that leads him to Barry, his "Eskimo," who saves him from a life of addiction.

At 31, Buddy is a sober and clean music promoter in Minneapolis, and he writes mysteries on the side, but he is incomplete. He wants to know who his biological mother is. The State of Minnesota informs him that his mother is still alive, living in Charlotte, North Carolina. However, she is a freak who is 1/2 of the famous Hilton Twins, Siamese sisters who were famous vaudevillians in the 1920s and '30s, but who are now living in poverty and working at a Park 'n Shop grocery.

Buddy's life is changed forever when he takes his mother and aunt to the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention in an attempt to resurrect their entertainment careers and find out his own identity. Buddy learns what being a freak really means, as the power of the State meets the power of the counterculture heroes. But this is the late '60s, and heroes are falling all around him, as Buddy reaches out for a father, finding a substitute in a black Civil Rights leader and a famous Yippie. But his real father, when Buddy meets him, is the biggest surprise of all.

As Dundee International Fiction Prize Winner for 2012, Jacob M. Appel, puts it, Freak Story is "Part zany alternate history of the late 1960s, part moving drama of family and personal growth, Freak Story creates a unique and thoroughly engrossing universe all its own."

Vist the "Freak Story" web site for author Q&A, videos and other background information:


“Imagine it’s 1967 and you’re a 31-year-old black, gay music promoter from Minneapolis and you discover that your biological mother is Daisy Hilton, one of a pair of celebrated conjoined twins. That’s precisely what Jim Musgrave imagines convincingly in his latest novel, Freak Story: 1967-1969. Part zany alternate history of the late 1960s, part moving drama of family and personal growth, Freak Story creates a unique and thoroughly engrossing universe all its own. Like Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test or T. C. Boyle’s Drop City, Musgrave’s novel adds another layer of depth to our understanding of the American psyche at the height of the counterculture revolution. It’s a fun, fast-paced and strikingly original accomplishment—in short, an adventure not to be missed.”

--Jacob M. Appel, author of The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up (winner of the Dundee International Book Prize, 2012).

"Jim Musgrave takes us on a tour of this heady, turbulent time in American history with homosexual black writer Buddy Hartman as our guide. Musgrave seamlessly interweaves fact and fiction, exploring his central theme--that we are all freaks under the skin--with honesty, affection and a gentle wit."

--Tracie McBride, author of Ghosts Can Bleed