nineth strawberry

... travels to Japan

12 strawberries
  Japan was like a magnet drawing my soul
to a place where it had never been before.
    Richard Brautigan

In May 1976 Richard Brautigan flies for several weeks to Japan. The first literary result of his journey is »June30th, June 30th« (1977), a type of travel diary in poems. Also »The Tokyo-Montana Express« of 1980 contains some stories with Japanese experiences.

In the preface to »June30th, June 30th« Richard Brautigan tells the story of his relationship with Japan, which begins with the Second World War. The child, who kills imaginary Japanese enemies to thousands, becomes an inspired reader of the Japanese literature, who views curiously Zen and the culture of Japan.

I was seventeen and then eighteen and began to read Japanese haiku poetry from the Seventeenth Century. I read Basho and Issa. I liked the way they used language concentrating emotion, detail and image until they arrived at a form of dew-like steel.

Richard Brautigan in June 30th, June 30th, quoted after Claudia Großmann, p.104

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His artist friend Marcia Clay related how he was fascinated with Japanese novelists but had no one with whom to discuss them. When he found out she hadn't read the writers, he took her to Japantown and bought a stack of novels. Since Marcia spent her nights painting, the perpetual night-owl Richard would drop by her studio and talk about Kawabata, Tanizaki and Kenzaburo Oe into the morning.

Keith Abbott, Downstream from trout fishing in America, p. 80

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While American literature criticism of the 70's does not deal very friendly with the successors of »Trout Fishing«, reactions in Japan are quite different.

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Brautigan says, »whimsy is not a word used in reviews of my books in Japan. My books are often seen as fragmented and pointless in America, not in Japan. They appreciate the structure of my novels there.«

Steve Chappel, Brautigan in Montana, San Francisco Examiner Review, 02.11.1980, S. 4-5, quoted after Barber, Annotated Bibliography

A friend who accompanied him to Tokyo said he had an audience of top Japanese authors, intellectuals and avant garde artists; in America he had nothing comparable.

Keith Abbott, Downstream from trout fishing in America, S. 124

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Resonance and experiences in Japan are encouraging for Richard Brautigan. That doesn't only apply to irrelevant things as book writing. There is finally something more important.

   The Hillary Express

I just ordered my first meal
   curry and rice
all by myself in a Japanese restaurant.
   What a triumph!
I feel like an infant taking its
   first faltering step.

   Watch out Mount Everest!

May 16, 1976

Richard Brautigan, June 30th, June 30th

Richard Brautigan's Mount Everest, based on literary success, is »Trout Fishing«. He can't get on well with the fact that from the summit there's only one direction ...
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all berries
This webtext archived within The Brautigan Bibliography and Archive
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