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I'm looking for a story about a man able to travel in time. Every time he visits the past, he instructs his younger self about how to be successful in life, gaining more experience following each subsequent trip. However, the very last time he talks to his past self he is so insistent that his younger version refuses to do anything useful in his life, feeling too much pressure.

This is probably a short story by a well-known author, since I read about it in a newspaper, on TV, or on the radio.

marked as duplicate by Paul D. Waite, Skooba, user14111 story-identification Jan 14 '17 at 0:08

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  • I recall a mountain or an hill in the story, but I haven't read the story itself, I've only heard about it on media forgetting to write down the author or the title. However, it seems to me your description is matching what I recall! Please add the title of this story as an answer if you find the book you're talking about! Tyvm! – chirale Jun 2 '13 at 1:05
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    Lazarus Long, AKA Woodrow Wilson Smith, meets his young self in Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love", but IIRC, not repeatedly. expandingconsciousness.wordpress.com/tag/lazarus-long – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 2 '13 at 2:22
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    There are many stories where a character interacts with a younger self. For instance, in Robert Heinlein's story "All You Zombies", one character is his own father and his own mother. He even facilitates their meeting and the subsequent kidnapping of himself, using time travel to position himself as a baby to grow up and fall in love with himself. Heinlein was interested in time travel paradoxes. – Howard Miller Oct 26 '15 at 12:27
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I'm looking for a story

"Rainbird" by R. A. Lafferty (ISFDB, Wikipedia, Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works); you can read reviews by Elton Gahr and Andrew Ferguson. Here is the editorial blurb from the story's first appearance, in Galaxy Magazine, December 1961, available at the Internet Archive:

Meet Higgston Rainbird, who invented steamboating and the nuclear pile—remember?

about a man able to travel in time: every time he go to the past, he instruct the past himself about how to be successful in life, gaining more experience time after time repeating the time travel.

Higgston Rainbird was hawking from the top of Devil's Head Mountain one June afternoon in 1779. [. . .] "Now then, you are an ewer-eared galoot and not as handsome as I remembered you; but I happen to know that you have the makings of a fine man. Listen now as hard as ever you listened in your life. I doubt that I will be able to repeat. I will save you years and decades; I will tell you the best road to take over a journey which it was once said that a man could travel but once. Man, I'll pave a path for you over the hard places and strew palms before your feet.

However, the very last time he talks to his past himself he is so insistent that the past himself refuses to do anything useful in his life feeling too much pressure.

"I wonder where he went? And where in apple-knockers' heaven did he come from? Or was he ever here at all? That's a danged funny machine he came in, if he did come in it. All the wheels are on the inside. But I can use the gears from it, and the clock, and the copper wire. It must have taken weeks to hammer that much wire out that fine. I wish I'd paid more attention to what he was saying, but he poured it on a little thick. I'd have gone along with him on it if only he'd found a good stopping place a little sooner, and hadn't been so insistent on giving up hawking. . . ."

This is probably a short story by a well-known author, since I've read about it on a newspaper or on TV or radio.

R. A. Lafferty was a great writer; not as notorious as Asimov or Heinlein, but a much better writer than either of those guys. Read all the Lafferty you can find.

An autobiographical quotation:

I'm the fellow who, for more than a quarter century, has faithfully maintained the thesis that all writers should be funny-looking, and all stories should be funny. Almost all of the evil in the world is brought about by handsome writers doing pompous pieces. — R. A. Lafferty

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    Thank you for this amazing answer. If anyone is interested in this story, it's available in "Isaac Asimov Presents The Great Science Fiction Stories 23". In Italian: "Le grandi storie della fantascienza 23" (1961) translated as "Uccello della pioggia". – chirale Jun 3 '13 at 10:07

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