Brautigan > Biography
This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's life (1935-1984). Information includes a brief biography, family history (including marriages), highlights from each each decade of Brautigan's life, and some thoughts about his continuing legacy. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.
Richard Gary Brautigan (1935-1984) was an American writer popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is often considered the author to best characterize the cultural electricity prevalent in San Francisco during the ebbing of the Beat Generation and the emergence of the counterculture movement.
Born in Tacoma, Washington, 30 January 1935, Brautigan grew up there, and later in Eugene, Oregon, during the bleakness of The Depression and World War II. His earlier works reflected some of his childhood experiences.
By 1956, Brautigan was living in San Francisco, California, determined to become a writer. His breakout came with publication of his novel Trout Fishing in America, in 1967. Literally overnight, Brautigan became an international sensation.
He continued writing throughout the 1970s, the height of his success. Brautigan's popularity, however, waned in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Some of his works were banned in California in 1978. The case was decided as a split decision in December 1978. The classroom book ban was upheld, but Brautigan's books were ordered back onto the library bookshelves. The decision was appealed by both sides. LEARN more.
In an article in The Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan suggested that Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar, translated into Farsi by Mehdi Navid, was censored. Navid, speaking about word changes suggested by Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, says some were ridiculous (Dehghan, Saeed Kamali. Tehran International Book Fair Launches Crackdown on "Harmful" Titles. The Guardian, 2 May 2012, Main Section, p. 24).
Brautigan died in 1984, in his home in Bolinas, California.
Brautigan's body of work includes includes ten novels, ten poetry collections, and one collection of short stories, as well as four volumes of collected work, several nonfiction works, and a record album. Throughout, he is noted for using humor and emotion to propel a unique vision of hope and imagination.
Also significant is Brautigan's detached, anonymous first person point of view, his idiosyncratic, autobiographical, quirky, yet easy-to-read prose style and episodic narrative structure full of unconventional but vivid images powered by imagination, strange and detailed observational metaphors, humor, and satire, all presented in a seemingly simplistic, childlike manner.
Brautigan's best-known works include his novel, Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968), and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
Brautigan's legacy is his unique vision as a writer. It provides inspiration for writers, readers, artists, and musicians around the world.
Brautigan Family Information
The surname Brautigan orginates from the German Bräutigam, itself derived from the Middle High German bruitegome, or bridegroom. Richard Brautigan was mysterious about his family, sometimes saying he had none, sometimes weaving them into his writing in imaginative ways. He did not know his real father, had several step-fathers, and abandoned all family ties when he left his boyhood home in Oregon and moved to San Francisco, California. He married twice and is survived by a daughter. See below for further information about Brautigan's family.
Maternal great great great great (4x) grandparents
Born: circa 1767, Halifax County, Virginia
Father: Nathan Sullens
Mother: Winifred Mary May
Died: circa 1818
Father: Richard Ashlock (See "Notes below)
Mother: ***no information***
***No information***, other than Lineage Child = Rebecca Ashlock
Paternal great great great great (4x) grandparents
Maternal great great great grandparents
Born: 19 January 1792
Died: 25 March 1837, Anderson County, Tennessee
Buried: ***No information***
Died: ***No information***
Buried: ***No information***
1821, Anderson County, Tennessee
Four children of their own, plus Rebecca's two out of wedlock. See "Notes."
Lineage Child: Meredith "Merriday" Ashlock
Possibly born out of wedlock, prior to Rebecca's marriage to John Vandergriff.
Notes on Rebecca Ashlock
At least two children, perhaps three, were born to Rebecca Ashlock out of wedlock. This webpage, no longer available, says court records show payments by the fathers to William Ashlock, Rebecca's father (http://www.reocities.com/heartland/meadows/6649/Ashlmisc.html).
Meredith "Merriday" Ashlock
Born: 19 October 1811, Anderson County, Tennessee
Died: 12 December 1896, Collen County, Texas
Buried: ***No information***
Father: Jesse Hoskins
Daughter, Madora Lenora Ashlock, married cousin, William Lee Ashlock, son of Jesse Ashlock. See below.
Born: 20 August 1813, Anderson County, Tennessee
Died: 10 December 1853
Married: 27 July 1838, Greene, Illinois
Born: 24 July 1820, Kentucky
Born: 7 April 1841, Greene, Illinois
Married: Thomas Riley
Born: 20 January 1849, Greene, Illinois
Born: 20 January 1849, Kane, Illinois
Died: 1915, Jerseyville, Illinois
William Lee Ashlock
Born: 28 May 1850, Greene, Illinois
Married Madora Lenora Ashlock, cousin, daughter of Meredith "Merriday" Ashlock.
Joseph Benton Ashlock
Born: 20 August 1853, Greene, Illinois
Died: 26 February 1863
Born: 11 November 1816, Anderson County, Tennessee
Died: November 1900, Illinois
Father: Michael Spessard
Paternal great great great grandparents
Maternal great great grandparents
ELIZABETH ANN WEAVER (Martin)
Born: 20 November 1825, Kentucky(?)
Died: 1894, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
MEREDITH "MERRIDAY" ASHLOCK
Born: 19 October 1811, Anderson County, Tennessee
Died: 12 December 1896, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Buried: Pilgrim Church Cemetery, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
7 November 1853, McKinney, Collin County, Texas.
Lineage child = Madora Lenora Ashlock
Isabella Florentine Ashlock
Born: 7 November 1854, McKinney, Collin County, Texas, died young
Madora Lenora Ashlock
Born: 20 April 1856, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Brautigan's maternal great-grandmother. See below.
John Garland Ashlock
Born: 29 May 1858, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Margaret Bush Ashlock
Born: 28 May 1860, Collin County, Texas
Died: 6 July 1936, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Bettie Ann Martin Ashlock
Born: 22 March 1863, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Died: 19 April 1928, Greene County, Illinois
Married: January 1883, William Cornelius Hoagland, Greene County, Illinois
1880 U. S. Census notes her living in Kane County, Greene, Illinois with her step-brother, William Lee Ashlock (see below). Her age was noted as 17 years.
Mary Luella Ashlock
Born: 3 January 1865, Collin County, Texas
Died: 05 July 1949, Electra, Texas
Married: Columbus Calloway Whellis
Notes for Meredith Ashlock and Elizabeth Ann Martin (Weaver)
Meredith Ashlock and Elizabeth Ann Martin (Weaver) arrived in Collin County, Texas, 19 October 1845 and bought land near McKinney in April 1850.
This was the second marriage for Elizabeth Ann Weaver (Martin) and Meredith Ashlock.
Background for Meredith "Merriday" Ashlock
1828: Meredith, 17, brother Richard, 12, sister Sally, traveled by wagon train from Tennessee to Illinois where free land was available to veterans of the War of 1812 and their children. Meredith secured land in Greene County, Illinois.
Marriage(1): 24 or 26 July 1833, Greene County, Illinois
to Sarah Elzina Earthenhouse
Born: 1813, Kentucky
Died: 8 May 1851 or 1853, Collin County, Texas
Born: 18 August 1834, Greene County, Illinois, died young
Francis Marion Ashlock
Born: 22 February 1836, Greene County, Illinois
Died: June 1855, Collin County, Texas
Moses Lemon Ashlock
Born: 17 May 1838, Greene County, Illinois, died young
Elizabeth S. Ashlock
Born: 7 July 1840, Greene County, Illinois
Died: Collin County, Texas
Born: 25 June 1841, Greene County, Illinois, died young
Meredith Sylvanus (Jack) Ashlock
Born: 17 May 1842, Greene County, Illinois
Married Rebecca Fryer
Eady Christenar Ashlock
Born: 19 December 1843, Greene County, Illinois, died young
Born: 18 July 1845, Illinois, or Missouri(?)
Died: 1917, Wise, Texas
Sarah Jane Ashlock
Born: 20 January 1848, Collin County, Texas
Born: 5 January 1851, Collin County, Texas
Paternal great great grandparents
Ann Mahoney and Richard Kingston were Brautigan's paternal great-great grandparents. Their child, George Kingston, was Brautigan's paternal great grandparent.
Born: ***No information***, Ireland(?)
Died: ***No information***
Born: ***No information***, Ireland(?)
Died: ***No information***
George Henry Kingston
Born: 16 February 1839, County Cork, Ireland
Died: 11 December 1912, Winlock, Lewis County, Washington
Maternal great grandparents
Madora (Dora) Lenora Ashlock (Ashlock) and William Lee Ashlock were Brautigan's maternal great grandparents. William Lee Ashlock, was the son of Jesse Ashlock, Madora's father's brother, and hence, her first cousin. The Ashlocks returned to Greene County, Illinois, where William's family lived on land made available for settlement to veterans of the War of 1812. William was employed by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and is noted as "John Ashlock" on his daughter's, Elizabeth "Bessie" Cordelia Ashlock, Death Certificate. Elizabeth "Bessie" Cordelia Ashlock, was Brautigan's grandmother.
MADORA LENORA ASHLOCK (Ashlock)
Born: 20 April 1856, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Died: 16 July 1931, Tacoma, Washington
WILLIAM LEE ASHLOCK
Born: 28 May 1850, Greene County, Illinois
Died: Post 1921(?), Madison, Illinois(?)
Father: Jesse Ashlock (brother to Meredith "Merriday" Ashlock)
Born: 20 August 1813, Anderson County, Tennessee
Died: 10 December 1853
Mother: Nancy Broyles
Born: 24 July 1820
Married: 7 April 1840, Greene County, Illinois
9 January 1873, McKinney, Collin County, Texas
Separated/divorced: 1 June 1907, following, allegedly, knowledge of William's philandering while pursuing investigations for the Pinkerton Agency.
William Lee Ashlock
Died at birth
Docia Ashlock (Brown)
Born: 20 November 1873, Texas
Married: 15 August 1894
William L. Brown; lived in Alton, Illinois
Mirtin (Myrtle) ("Mertie") Ashlock (Oglesbee)
Born: January 1880, Illinois
Note: 1920 U. S. Census reports her living Spokane, Washington; Listed in 1921 Spokane City Directory; Mother's obituary reports her in Spokane, 1931; Sister's obituary reports her in Spokane in 1950
Edith Ashlock (Courtwright) (of Illinois)
Died: ***July 1930?***
Mabel Ashlock (Fuller)
Born: ***, Illinois
Married: Louis E. Fuller (St. Louis, Missouri)
Elizabeth "Bessie" Cordelia Ashlock (Keho) (Dixon)
Born: 30 September 1881, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: 19 April 1950, St. Helens, Oregon
Brautigan's maternal grandmother.
William Lee Ashlock, Jr.
Died: 19 January 1966
MADORA LENORA ASHLOCK and WILLIAM LEE ASHLOCK
U. S. Census, Illinois, Greene County, Kane Townships notes William Ashlock, age 30; Eudora Ashlock, age 24; their children Dora, age 6; Florence, age 4; "Mertie," age 6 months; and step-sister Bettie Ashlock, age 17 as residents of Greene County, Kane Precinct, Illnois. Father for William, Eudora, and "Bettie" Ashlock (Bettie Ann Martin Ashlock, see above), all noted as from Tennessee; Mother for all three from Kentucky.
U. S. Census, Illinois, notes Dora Ashlock, age 54, as a patient at the Jacksonville State Hospital, Jacksonville, Illinois. Place of birth noted as [McKinney, Collin County] Texas. Marital status noted as "Widowed."
St. Louis City Directory notes Dora Ashlock, "wid[ow] of Wm [William]" as a resident at 2730 Washington Avenue.
Moved, to Tacoma, Washington, with her daughter, Bessie Ashlock (Keho) (Dixon) and her family. Lived at 813 East 65th Street, Tacoma.
An article in the Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) notes that Madora "Dora" Ashlock and William Ashlock separated on 1 June 1907. The article, entitled "Waits Long Time for Divorce" reads, "Instead of observing fifty years of married life a couple years hence William Ashlock of Madison will in a few days be telling the circuit court something about his domestic troubles and ask a divorce decree against Mrs. Dora Ashlock. He charges her with desertion but waited fourteen before instituting the proceedings. According to papers on file they were married at McKinney, Tex., on January 9, 1973. The date of seperation [sic] is given as Jun 1, 1907."
("Waits Long Time for Divorce." Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5 October 1921.)
Tacoma City Directory notes "Dora" Ashlock (widow of William) living at 813 East 65th Street
Obituary for Madora (Dora) Lenora Ashlock
Mrs. Dora Ashlock, 74, died Thursday at her home, 813 East 65th Street. She had been a resident of Tacoma for seven years. She leaves daughters, Mrs. Bessie Dixon, Tacoma; Mrs. Myrtle Oglsbee, Spokane; Mrs. Docia Brown, and Mrs. Edith Courtwright, Ills.; Mrs. Mabel Fuller, St. Louis, Mo.; sons, Lee of Madison, Ills. and Jesse, of Arkansas, and eight grandchildren. The body is at the Mellinger mortuary.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 17 July 1931)
Paternal great grandparents
Hanora Hayes and George Henry Kingston were Brautigan's paternal great grandparents. Their child, Rebecca Lilian Kingston, was Brautigan's paternal grandparent. Both Honora Hayes and George Henry Kingston immigrated to California sometime in the late 1880s.
Born: May 1855, Ireland
Died: 19 October, Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row A, Plot 9
St. Urban Catholic Cemetery was established in 1890 from land donated by Gottlieb Waller
GEORGE HENRY KINGSTON
Born: 16 February 1839, Ireland
Died: 11 December 1912, Winlock, Lewis County, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row A, Plot 8
St. Urban Catholic Cemetery was established in 1890 from land donated by Gottlieb Waller
Father: Richard Kingston
Mother: Ann Mahoney
1875(?), based on 1900 U. S. Census noting them married for 25 years.
Born: 1870?, California?
Died: Prior to 1880?
Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) (Morisette)
Born: March 1887, California
Died: 16 June 1957, Tacoma, Washington
Elizabeth "Bessie" Cordelia Ashlock (Kehoe) (Dixon) and Michael Joseph Kehoe were Brautigan's maternal grandparents. Kehoe died. Their child, Lulu Mary Kehoe, was Brautigan's mother.
ELIZABETH "BESSIE" CORDELIA ASHLOCK (Kehoe) (Dixon)
Born: 30 September 1881, St. Louis (Woodville?), Missouri
Died: 19 April 1950, Portland, Oregon, Good Samaritan Hospital, age 68
Buried: ***No information***
MICHAEL JOSEPH KEHOE
Born: 1 May 1847, Montreal, Canada
Died: 11 July 1911, Marine Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri
Buried: ***No information***
Father: John Kehoe
Place of Birth: Ireland
9 April 1908, St. Charles County, Missouri
Settled in St. Louis, Missouri
Divorced: ***No information***
Eveline Elaine Kehoe (Fjetland)
Born: 29 January ***1909/1910***?, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: 31 January 1998, Tacoma, Washington
Jacob "Big Jack" Anton Fjetland
Born: 1908 Tacoma, Washington
Died: 7 March 1963, Tacoma, Washington
Buried: ***No information***
James K. Fjetland
Raymond A. Fjetland
Robert J. Fjetland
Lulu Mary Kehoe
Born: 7 April 1911, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: 24 September 2005, Eugene, Oregon
Obituary for Eveline Elaine Kehoe (Fjetland)
Grandma Ricky passed away in her ninetieth year, leaving a legacy of
love and values to her friends and children. Born in St. Louis, MO, she
grew up in Tacoma and married Jacob Fjetland, who preceded her in death.
They raised 3 children: Jim (wife Patricia) of Burien, Ray (wife Peggy)
of Puyallup, Jacqueline Grant of Lake Forest, CA, and stepson Robert
(wife C-C) of San Jose, CA; grandchildren, Brita Powloski of Puyallup,
Sonya Fjetland of Puyallup, Christian Wiener of Seattle, Jason Fjetland
of Federal Way; 1 great-granddaughter, Jamie; sister Mary Lou Folston of
Eugene, OR. Her many adopted children included Donna Gibson and Helmut
Heim. Memorial Services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, 1998 in
the Mt. View Valley Chapel. Arrangements by Mountain View Funeral Home.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 3 February 1998, p. B4.)
Obituary for Jacob Anton Fjetland
Native of City Stricken at 55
Jacob Anton (Jack) Fjetland, 55, of 1841 E. Sherman St., a native Tacoman, died Thursday in a local hospital. He had spent all his life here and was a salesman for the Klizer and Blair Co. Mr. Fjetland was a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Surviving are his wife, Eveline; three sons James K. and Raymond A., both of Tacoma, and Robert J. of California; two sisters, Miss Jacqueline Ann Fjetland of Tacoma and Mrs. Jack Schultz of Spokane; a brother, Clarence M. of Tacoma; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Knute Fjetland of Seattle; and three grandchildren. Services will be announced by Mountain View Funeral Home.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 9 March 1963, p. 2.)
ELIZABETH "BESSIE" CORDELIA ASHLOCK (Kehoe) and Michael Joseph Keho
St. Louis City Directory notes Micheal Kehoe living at 8214 N[orth] B[road]way. His occupation is listed as car[penter]. No listings following this date.
Detroit, Michigan City Directory notes Michael and Bessie Kehoe living at 586 Champlain. Bessie's occupation noted as stenographer with National Vaudette Film Company.
Detroit, Michigan City Directory notes Michael and Bessie Kehoe living at 326 Crane Avenue. Bessie's occupation noted as stenographer with Cadillac Film Company. Michael's occupation noted as packer.
After Kehoe's death, ELIZABETH "BESSIE" CORDELIA ASHLOCK (Kehoe) married Jesse Grant Dixon
Married (2): 1913-1914(?), St. Louis, Missouri
Jesse Grant Dixon
Born: 16 April 1874
Died: 5 October 1935, Tacoma, Washington
Buried: ***no information***
Jesse Woodrow Dixon
Born: 21 July 1914, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: 8 May 1930, Tacoma, Washington, from peritonitis
Buried: Calvary Cemetery
Edward Martin Dixon
Born: 29 September 1916, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: 11 August 1942, Sitka, Alaska
Edward Martin Dixon was Brautigan's "Uncle Edward," subject of "Farewell, Uncle Edward, and All the Uncle Edwards" in June 30th, June 30th. Worked as a civilian engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. He suffered a shrapnel injury to his head during the Japanese attack on Midway Island, 7 December 1941. He recovered in Hawaii and then spent two weeks in San Francisco before joining the Army engineers working on an airbase in Sitka, Alaska. He died there, 11 August 1942, in a construction accident. He was twenty six. Brautigan wrote about attending his Uncle Edward's funeral in Tacoma, Washington, in the poem "1942."
ELIZABETH "BESSIE" CORDELIA ASHLOCK (Kehoe)(Dixon) and Jesse Grant Dixon
Moved, with husband and family from St. Louis, Missouri, to Tacoma, Washington, where they lived at 813 East 65th Street.
Jesse Grant Dixon's World War I registration card (dated 12 September 1918) notes his marriage to Bessie Dixon. Their address is listed as 1111 Pacific Avenue, Room 401, Tacoma, Washington. Jesse's occupation noted as boilermaker, employed by Todd Ship Yard, in Tacoma.
Tacoma City Directory notes Bessie living with Jesse G. Dixon at 813 East 65th Street. Jesse's occupation is noted as "shipmaker."
U. S. Census, Pierce County, Tacoma, Washington, notes Jesse G. Dixon (45), Bessie (32, wife), Lulu (11, child), Jesse (8, child), Edward (5, child), and Eveline (3, child) living in Tacoma, Washington. Jesse G. Dixon's occupation noted as boilermaker working in ship yards.
Tacoma City Directory notes Bessie living with Jesse G. Dixon at 813 East 65th Street. Jesse's occupation is noted as "laborer."
Tacoma City Directory notes Bessie, occupation "cook," living alone at 813 East 65th Street; Bessie worked at Manning's Coffee Shop, on Converse Street, in Tacoma. Here she met Frank Campana, an Italian-American war veteran, divorced Dixon, and began a relationship with Campana that lasted until her death. Together, they opened a restaurant at Pacific Avenue and 25th Street, in Tacoma, where they sold illegal alcohol. They also operated Ruth's Place, another outlet for bootleg booze, above a branch of the Bank of California in downtown Tacoma. She was known as "Moonshine Bess."
Tacoma City Directory notes Jesse G. Dixon, occupation "carpenter," living alone.
Tacoma City Directory notes "Mrs. Bessie Dixon" living at 813 East 65th Street. Her occupation is noted as "cook" or "waitress." No mention of Jesse G. Dixon, although the 1925 listing notes her as "widow of Jesse." The 1931 listing notes the house as owned by Bernard F. Brautigan. In 1923, Bessie asked her mother, Medora (Dora) Lenora Ashlock to move to Tacoma and live with her in the family home.
Moved (with Campana?), following death of Mother (1931), to St. Helens, Oregon, where they opened and operated a restaurant on Strand Street along the Columbia River, called The Boy's Place, until 1949, the year before she died. They lived together on 65th Street. She sent money monthly to her Mother and children in Tacoma, Washington. Note: one obituary, see below, says Bessie moved to St. Helens, Oregon, in 1924, which means she would have lived there 26 years, rather than the 18 claimed by another obituary. A move in 1932, following the death of her Mother, seems more logical.
Obituary for Jesse Woodrow Dixon
Jesse W. Dixon
Jesse W. Dixon, 16, died Thursday afternoon in a local hospital. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Bessie Dixon, a brother, Edward, and two sisters, Lulu and Eveline, all of the home at 812 East 65th street. The body is at the Cassedy and Allen mortuary, pending funeral announcements.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 9 May 1930, p. 17.)
Obituaries for Elizabeth "Bessie" Cordelia Ashlock (Kehoe) (Dixon)
Mrs. Bessie C. Dixon
Mrs. Bessie Cordelia Dixon, 68, died in a Portland hospital Wednesday. She was a a resident of St. Helens, Ore., but was well known in Tacoma where she lived 18 years ago. Mrs. Dixon was survived by two daughters, Mrs. Jack Fjetland of Tacoma and Mrs. Lula Porterfield of Eugene, Ore.; two sisters, Mrs. Myrtle Oglesby of Spokane and Mrs. Lewis Fuller of St. Louis, Mo.; two brothers, Jess Ashlock and Lee Ashlock, both of Illinois, and six grandchildren. Funeral services were held Friday in St. Helens followed by cremation in Portland. The ashes will be brought to the Tacoma Mausoleum by Cassedy and Allen.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 20 April 1950.)
Mrs. Bessie Dixon
Mrs. Bessie Dixon, 66, died at St. Helens hospital early Wednesday morning, following an illness of several weeks. She had been a resident of St. Helens since 1924 when she came from Tacoma to work in a Strand St[reet] restaurant, which she did until about a year ago when the business was sold. Funeral services will be held from the Coleman chapel Friday afternoon and conducted by Rev. Roderick Johnson. The body was to be cremated and ashes taken to Tacoma to be placed alongside the grave of a son, Edward Dixon, killed in a construction accident in Alaska several years ago. Deceased is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Lula Porterfield, Eugene, and Mrs. Evelyn Fjetland, Tacoma, and a sister, Mrs. Myrtle Oglesby, Spokane, and Mrs. Louis Fuller, St. Louis, Mo. Mrs. Dixon was a member of the St. Helens Culinary Alliance.
(The St. Helens Chronicle, 20 April 1950, p. 2.)
Obituary for Jesse Grant Dixon
Jesse G. Dixon
Jesse G. Dixon, 61, a resident of Tacoma for 30 years, died Saturday in a local hospital. He lived at ***301 East 28th Street***. Surviving are one son, Edward, and one daughter, Mrs. Lula Brautigan, both of Tacoma; two brothers, Dave of Santa Anna, Calif., and Charles of Topeka, Kan., and one sister, Mrs. Jane Pryor of Kansas City, Kan. Funeral plans will be announced by Cassady and Allen.
(Tacoma Times. 7 October 1935, p. 9.)
Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) (Morisette) and Frederic "Fritz" Brautigam were Richard Brautigan's paternal grandparents. Their child, Bernard Frederick Brautigan, was Brautigan's father. Note final 'M" rather than "N" in Fritz's surname. He used "Brautigam," his family used "Brautigan." His obituary used "Brautigan."
REBECCA LILIAN KINGSTON (Brautigan) (Morisette)
Born: March 1887, Oakland, California
Died: 16 June 1957, Tacoma, Washington
Last address: 215 East 55th Street, Tacoma, Washington
Buried: ***Tacoma, Washington(?)***
FREDERIC "FRITZ" BRAUTIGAM
Born: 12 January 1878, Hirschberg, Westfalen, Prussia
Died: 1 July 1910, Chehalis, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington
St. Urban Catholic Cemetery was established in 1890 from land donated by Gottlieb Waller.
14 June 1906, Lewis County, Washington
Married by Reverend P. A. Flavin, a Catholic priest. Witnesses were William Darragh and Leabel Darragh.
Agnes M. Brautigan
Bernard Frederick Brautigan
Born: 29 July 1908, Winlock, Washington
Edward "Eugene" F. Brautigan
Born: 26 July 1910
Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) and William Newton Morisette
Following the death of her first husband, Frederic Fritz Brautigam, Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) married William Newton Morisette.
William Newton Morisette
Born: 28 November 1882, Depere, Wisconsin
Died: 28 June 1945, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington (Washington State Death Records)
Father: Charles Morisette
Mother: Adda Ellison
13 October 1911, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington (Marriage Certificate)
Married by DeWitt M. Evans, Justice of the Peace, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. Witnesses were Eolo Wendt and Fred Frederickson (Marriage Certificate)
Eleanor W. Morisette
George E. Morisette
Elah C. Morisette
Mabel A. Morisette
Born: 2 November 1916, Pierce County, Washington
Timeline: Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) (Morisette)
March: Born, Oakland, California
Rebecca, age 13, living with father, George Kingston, age 51 and mother, Hanora Kingston, age 45, in Napaville, Lewis County, Washington (U. S. Census)
14 June 1906
Marries first husband, Frederick Fritz Brantigam, Lewis County, Washington
Rebecca Kingston, age 27, living in Prescott, Lewis County, Washington (U. S. Census)
1 July 1910
Rebecca's first husband, Frederic Fritz Brautigam, dies
13 October 1911
Married William Newton Morisette, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington (Marriage Certificate)
Rebecca and William Newton Morisette living at 402 State, Centralia, Lewis County, Washington. William's occupation noted as "cooper." (R.L. Polk Lewis County Directory 1915-1916)
Rebecca and William Newton Morisette living at 915 Sitka, Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington. William's occupation noted as "cooper." (R.L. Polk Lewis County Directory 1917-1918)
1920: Rebecca Morisette, age 36, and William Morisette, age 37, living in a rented home in Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington, with their children: Eleanor A. Morisette, age 7
George E. Morisette, age 5
Elah C. Morisette, age 3.5
Mabel A. Morisette, age 4.5
Agnes M. Brantigan [sic], age 12
Bernard F. Brantigan [sic], age 11
Eugene F. Brantigan [sic], age 9 (U. S. Census)
Rebecca and William Newton Morisette living at 915 Sitka, Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington (R.L. Polk Lewis Chehalis City Directory 1922-1923)
27 April 1942
William Morisette registers for military service at the State Armory in Tacoma, Washington. Morisette, 59, living at 5202 South Steele, was unemployed (Registration Card)
28 June 1945
Rebecca's second husband, William Newton Morisette, dies, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington (Washington State Death Records)
16 June 1957
Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) (Morisette) dies, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington
Timeline: Frederic "Fritz" Brautigan
1878, 12 January
Born in Hirschberg, Westfalen, Prussia
1899, 12 September
Enters United States after sailing from Antwerp, Belgium, on the SS Kensington. His name was recorded as "Frederic Brautigam"
U. S. Census reports "Fintz Brautigam," age 22, living in Ellsworth, Pierce County, Wisconsin, as a boarder in the home of Isaac Beasly (44). Other household members included Dorcas Beardsly (44), Daniel H. R. Beardsly (20), May L. Schulte (19), Helen J. Beardsly (17), Myrtle A. Beardsly (16), Johnnie W. Beardsly (7), Frank W. Schulte (25), and Edwin Barnas (18).
1900, 5 November
Naturalized as a United States citizen. His name was recorded in the records of the Pierce County courthouse as "Fritz Brautigan" but he signed himself as "Fritz Brautigam."
8 September 1905
Purchased land in Lewis County, Washington from J. A. Veness and Augusta Veness, husband and wife. Noted as "Fritz Brautigam" in the document. Signed as "Fritz Brautigam."
1906, 14 June
Married Rebecca Kingston, Lewis County, Washington. Marriage certificates records him as "Fritz Brautigan" but he signs as "Fritz Brautigam"
U. S. Census reports "Fritz Brautigam, Rebecca K(ingston, wife), Agnes M (daughter), and Bernard F (son)" in Lewis County, Washington. Fritz Brautigam noted as 32 years of age.
1910, 1 July
Died, Chehalis, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row A, Plot 10
Obituary for Rebecca Lilian Kingston (Brautigan) (Morisette)
Rebecca L. Morisette
Rebecca Lilian Morisette, 74, of 215 East 55th St., died yesterday in a local hospital. Born in Oakland, Calif., she came to Tacoma in 1912 from Napavine. She was a member of the Catholic Church. Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Betty Salhinger of Everett; two sons Edward F. Brautigan and George E. Morisette, both of Tacoma; one grandson. Services will be announced by the Mountain View Funeral Home.
(Tacoma News-Tribune, 7 June 1957, p. ***?***.)
Obituary for Frederic "Fritz" Brautigan
Funeral at Winlock
Fritz Brautigan, aged thirty years, whose home was at Winlock, died yesterday in St. Helens hospital in Chehalis. The cause of death was tuberculosis. He leaves a widow. His occupation was that of a carpenter. The funeral will be held Sunday from the Catholic church at Winlock. Burial will be in Winlock cemetery.
(Centralia Daily Chronicle, 2 July 1910, p. 1)
Frederic "Fritz" Brautigam(n) Gravesite
St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington
Born Jan. 12, 1879
Died July 1, 1910
Obituary for William Newton Morisette
W. N. Morisette
William Newton Morisette, 62, of 1910 South G, died in a local hospital Thursday. He was a retired cook. Depere, Wis. was his birthplace. Survivors are his wife Rebecca; daughter, Mrs. Betty Tangsley of Tacoma; three sons, Lt. Kenneth Morisette, U. S. infantryman overseas, Sgt. Ben Brautigan, stationed in Spokane, and George Morisette of Tacoma; two brothers, Allen of Tacoma and Charles of Richmond, Calif.; two sisters, Mrs. Eola Wendt of Mrs. Eleanor O'Neil, both of Spokane; two grandsons. Mountain View Memorial Park will announce the funeral.
(Tacoma News Tribune, 30 June 1945, p. 18.)
Connections to Frederic "Fritz" Brautigam
Uncle to Frederic "Fritz" Brautigam?
Born: 1865, Germany
Died: 8 June 1951, Centralia, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row D, Plot 24
Immigrated to the United States before Frederic "Fitz" and settled in Ellswood, Pierce County, Wisconsin.
Married: Elizabeth *** (Brautigam)
Died: 28 May 1920, St. Paul, Minnesota
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row D, Plot 23
Frank Brautigam (1891-***)
Lawrence Brautigam (1896-***)
Joseph Brautigam (1901-***)
Married Elizabeth *** (Brautigan) who, at age 90, was featured in The Centralia, Washington Daily Chronicle, Thursday, 16 May 1946, p. 12.
Martin H. Brautigam
Born: 1904, Lewis County, Washington(?)
Died: 1965, Winlock, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row D, Plot 27
Frances Brautigam (Lee)
Born: 1899, Lewis County, Washington(?)
Died: 26 February 1920, Chehalis, Washington
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row D, Plot 22
Mary Bell Lee (1916-***)
Buried: St. Urban Catholic Cemetery, Lewis County, Winlock, Washington, Row D, Plot 21
Brother to Frederic "Fritz" Brautigam(?)
1876(?): Born, Wesphalen, Germany
Prior to 5 October 1899
Traveled from Germany to Liverpool, England.
5 October 1899
Boarded the steamship "Dominion" sailing for Quebec, Canada. Passenger manifest notes "Henry Brautigan," age 23, single laborer, able to read and write. His nationality is stated as German; last residence, Westphalen. His final destination is noted as Ellswood, Pierce County, Wisconsin. He was a Third Class passenger.
15 October 1899
Arrived Quebec, Canada. Entered United States later that year.
U. S. Census notes "Henry Brantigan," age 23, in Salem, Pierce County, Wisconsin, along with "Frederick Brantigan (34), Christopher Brantigan (31), Frank Brantigan (8), Samani Brantigan (4), Francesco Brantigan (1), and Frank Brantigan (23)." Note: As noted above, this same census reports "Fintz [Frederic "Fritz"] Brautigam," age 22, living in Ellsworth, Pierce County, Wisconsin, as a boarder in the home of Isaac Beasly (44).
Lulu Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) (Titland) (Porterfield) (Folson) and Bernard Frederick Brautigan were Brautigan's parents. Lulu Mary was commonly known as Mary Lou. The couple first met in 1924. Lulu Mary worked at her mother's restaurant on 25th Street in Tacoma, Washington. Brautigan, working at a nearby plywood mill, lived in a room above the restaurant where he took all his meals. Richard Brautigan's parents.
LULU MARY KEHOE (Brautigan) (Titland) (Porterfield) (Folston)
Born: 7 April 1911, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: 24 September 2005, Eugene, Oregon
Last address: 97402 Eugene Lane, Eugene, Oregon
Buried: Calvary Cemetary
BERNARD FREDERICK BRAUTIGAN
Born: 29 July 1908, Winlock, Washington
Died: 27 May 1994, Tacoma, Washington
Buried: ***No information***
18 July 1927, Pierce County, Tacoma, Washington
Marriage performed by Frank A. Magill, Justice of the Peace, Tacoma, Pierce Count, Washington. Witnesses to the marriage were Mrs. William Morisette (Rebecca, Bernard's mother) and Eleanor Morisette (Bernard's step-sister) (Certificate of Marriage).
Separated (1) and Divorced (1)
Separated(1): April 1934
Summons and Complaint: 21 October 1938
In papers filed 18 October 1938 with the Pierce County Court, Bernard, plaintiff, alleges that Lulu Brautigan, defendent, abandoned him in Tacoma, Washington in April 1934, "and has ever since said date of abandonment lived
Bernard also alleged that "No children have been born as issue of such union," his marriage with Mary Lou.
Divorce Papers Filed: 25 November 1938
Bernard was granted divorce by order of default based on Mary Lou's failure to respond to the court summons.
Divorced(1): 17 January 1940, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington
Richard Gary Brautigan
Born: 30 January 1935, Tacoma, Washington
Died: 14 October 1984, Bolinas, California
Richard Brautigan's birth certificate clearly notes Bernard F. Brautigan as his father. But, the divorce papers filed for Lulu Mary Kehoe and Bernard Frederick Brautigan (above) notes "No children have been born as issue of such union." Later, when he enlised in the U. S. Army, 4 May 1942, Bernard noted his marital status as "divorced, without dependents." Following Brautigan's death in 1984, Bernard stated he had no knowledge of a son. Despite these claims, Bernard is generally acknowledged as Brautigan's biological father.
Timeline: Mary Lulu Kehoe and Bernard Frederick Brautigan
1927, 18 July
Married. Their marriage certificate notes Mary Lou's address as 813 East 56th Street, Tacoma, Washington; Bernard's as 314 1/2 East 26th Street, Tacoma, Washington. Both were eighteen.
No listing in Tacoma City Directory
"Ben Brautigan" living with Lulu at 1945 Fawcetta [sic] Avenue (Tacoma City Directory)
"Ben F. Brautigan" living with Lulu at 1945 Fawcet [sic] Avenue, apartment 6B (Tacoma City Directory). (The 1930 U.S. Census Report notes Lulu living in Pierce County, Tacoma, Washington).
"Benj Braugitan" and Bernard Brautigan living with Lulu at 813 E 65th Street (Tacoma City Directory)
"Benj F. Brautigan" living with Lulu at 2830 South L Street (Tacoma City Directory)
Lulu and Ben Brautigan living at 1945 Fawcetta [sic] Avenue
1935, 30 January: Son Richard Gary Brautigan born; no listing in Tacoma City Directory
No listing in Tacoma City Directory
"Mrs. Lulu Brautigan" living at 1346 Fawcette [sic] Avenue (Tacoma City Directory)
1938, 21 October
Summons and Complaint filed by Bernard Frederick Brautigan, seeking divorce on the grounds of abandonment
1938, 25 November
Bernard granted divorce by order of default based on Mary Lou's failure to respond to the court summons. Divorce papers filed.
1940, 17 January
Divorce officially decreed
Bernard Frederick Brautigan
Ottilia Hauck (Glass) Born: 23 February 1902
Father: George Hauck
Mother: Katherine Southner
Died: 22 February 1976, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington
Buried: Calvary Cemetery, Tacoma, Washington
Leona Glass (Pezanowski)
Married Mike Pezanowski
Helen Glass (Anderson)
Married: Ed Anderson
Obituary for Ottilia Hauck (Glass) (Brautigan)
Mrs. Bernard F. (Otillia) Brautigan, who would have celebrated her 75th
birthday yesterday died Sunday. She resided at 715 E. 55th St. She was
born in Powell, N.D., and had lived in the area 53 years. Mrs. Brautigan
was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Survivors include two
sons, Edward and Raymond Glass of Tacoma; two daughters, Mrs. Leona
Pezanowski of Tacoma and Mrs. Helen Anderson of Westport; two brothers,
John Hauck of Yakima and Edward Hauck of Medicine Hat, Alta,; three
sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth Miller of Toppenish, Mrs. Molly Wirachowski in
Alberta and Mrs. Margaret Wirachowski of Regina, Sask., 15 grandchildren
and 15 great-grandchildren. Gaffney Funeral Home is in charge.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 24 February 1976, p. ***?***.)
Timeline: Bernard Frederick Brautigan
"Bernard F. Brautigam," age 1, living in Lewis County, Washington (U.S. Census)
Bernard, age 11, living with his mother, Rebecca and step-father, William Morisette, and siblings in Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington (U.S. Census)
1927, 18 July
Married to Lulu Mary Kehoe
Living in Tacoma, Washington. See timeline with Lula Mary Kehoe, above.
1935, 30 January
Son, Richard Gary Brautigan, born
1936: "Bernard F. Brantigan" living at 713 South 17th Street (Tacoma City Directory)
Bernard Brautigan noted but no address (Tacoma City Directory)
Separated from Lulu Mary Kehoe. "Mrs. Lulu Brautigan" living at 1346 Fawcette [sic] Avenue (Tacoma City Directory)
1938, 21 October
Summons and Complaint filed by Bernard Frederick Brautigan, seeking divorce on the grounds of abandonment
1938, 25 November
Bernard granted divorce by order of default based on Mary Lou's failure to respond to the court summons. Divorce papers filed.
"Bernard F. Brautigan" living at 1513 1/2 South Tacoma Avenue (Tacoma City Directory)
1940, 17 January
Divorce from Lulu Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) officially decreed
Bernard / Ben Brautigan living at 1515 South Tacoma Avenue (Tacoma City Directory)
1942, 4 May
Enlisted in U. S. Army, Tacoma, Washington. Marital status noted as "Divorced, without dependents"
"Bernard F. Brautigam" living at 715 East 55th Street (Tacoma City Directory). Bernard owned this property in the Brewerton's Breezy Hill annex to the City of Tacoma.
"Bernard F. Brautigan" living with "Ottillia" at 715 East 55th Street (Tacoma City Directory)
Bernard F. Brautigan living with "Mathida L." at 715 East 55th Street (Tacoma City Directory)
Bernard F. or Ben F. Brautigan living with "Otillia" or "Otilla" at 715 East 55th Street (Tacoma City Directory)
From 1929-1959 Bernard working as a laborer in various plywood factories, millworking, and door manufacturing companies in Tacoma (Tacoma City Directory)
Obituary for Bernard Frederick Brautigan
Bernard F. Brautigan
Bernard F. Brautigan, Jr., [sic] born July 29, 1908 in Winlock, WA, died May 27, 1994. He was a WWII veteran and had worked for Northwest Wood and Ware and Washington Door. Bernard is survived by sister, Betty Salinger, Everett; children, Leona Pezanowski, Helen Anderson, Edward Glass, and Raymond Glass. Rosary will be recited Wed., June 1, 1994, 7 p.m. at the 1002 So. Yakima Ave. Chapel. Private Graveside Services, Thursday. Interment Calvary Cemetary. Arrangements by Gaffney Cassedy Allen & Buckley King.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 31 May 1994, p. B4.)
Lulu Mary Kehoe and Arthur Martin Titland
Married(2): No marriage record found; doubtful the couple was ever legally married. They met in 1937 and began living together.
Arthur Martin Titland
Born: 24 November 1901?, Tacoma, Washington
Died: 13 August 1969, Seattle, Washington
Buried: 27 August 1969, Plot T 2714, Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Oregon
Barbara Jo Titland (Fitzhugh)
Born: 1 May 1939, Tacoma, Washington
Note: Birth predates the finalization of Mary Lou's divorce from Bernard Brautigan.
Barbara Jo Titland's birth certificate notes Arthur Martin Titland as father; Lulu Mary Kehoe as mother. Their address noted as 1004 1/2 South 11th, Tacoma, Washington. Arthur Titland was employed as a truck driver; Lulu Kehoe was a housewife. Barbara Jo noted as Lulu Mary's second child (Richard Brautigan was her first).
Timeline: Lula Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) and Arthur Martin Titland
Arthur Titland living with his father, Robert O. Titland, age 56 (born in Norway); mother, Cecelia, age 52; and brother, Russell R., age 11, in Tacoma, Pierce County, Tacoma, Washington (U.S. Census)
Arthur M. Titland, age 29, working as a machinist aboard the SS Tourist, a ship owned and operated by Puget Sound Navigation Company, Seattle, Washington. His address was noted as 915 South Sheridan Ave., Tacoma, Washington (U.S. Census)
Lulu living with Arth M. Titland [sic] at 1004 1/2 South 11th, Apartment 3 (Tacoma City Directory)
17 January; Lula Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) divorced(1) from Bernard F. Brautigan
Lulu living with Arth M. Titland [sic] at 1006 South Yakima, Apartment 1 (Tacoma City Directory)
Lulu living with Arth M. Titland [sic] at 721 Fawcett (Tacoma City Directory). This is the last listing for Lulu Mary Brautigan (Titland) (Porterfield) (Folston) in the Tacoma City Directory.
1943, 17 March
Arthur Martin Titland begins service in U.S. Navy during World War II
Obituary for Arthur Martin Titland
Arthur M. Titland
Services were held in Seattle Saturday for Arthur Martin Titland, 68, a former Tacoma resident who died recently. Mr. Titland was born in Tacoma and had lived all of his life in the Tacoma-Seattle area. He was a former employee of the Foss Launch & Tug Co. Services were under direction of Home Undertaking, Seattle.
(The News Tribune [Tacoma], 18 August 1969, p. 31.)
Lulu Mary Kehoe and Robert Geoffrey "Tex" Porterfield
Robert Geoffrey "Tex" Porterfield
Born: 9 August 1904, Deadwood, South Dakota
Died: 22 March 1969, Reno, Nevada
Buried: Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery, Reno, Nevada
20 January 1943; Tacoma, Washington. Lutheran ceremony conducted by Pastor Barton W. Smith
Divorced(3): 12 July 1950, Eugene, Oregon
Sandra Jean Porterfield (Stair) (Atkins)
Born: 5 March 1945
Married 1: Hubert Roger Stair
Married 2: Stan Atkins
Timeline: Lula Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) (Titland) and Robert Geoffrey "Tex" Porterfield
Robert Porterfield living with his father, Frank A. Porterfield (Born 1872, Ohio), and his mother, Harriett G. Porterfield (Born 1873, Iowa), in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas. His birthdate is estimated "about 1905" (U.S. Census)
Family still living in Forth Worth, Tarrant County, Texas. Mother's name noted as "Carrie." Porterfiled's birthdate is estimated "about 1905" (U.S. Census)
Lulu Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) (Titland) and Porterfield meet, while both working at Laughlin's Cafe, on Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington. Porterfield was a cook; Lulu Mary, a cashier. They married 20 January 1943, in a Lutheran ceremony conducted by Pastor Barton W. Smith in Tacoma, Washington. Both Brautigan and his sister, Barbara, used Porterfield's surname.
Lulu Mary and Porterfield separated. He traveled to Great Falls, Montana, for a job as a fry cook. She, and her children, remained in Tacoma, Washington, but they all traveled to Montana to see Porterfield on 14 February. After two weeks, Lulu Mary returned to Tacoma, leaving Brautigan and Barbara in a Great Falls, Montana, rooming house with Porterfield, who returned them to Tacoma in the spring. That summer, Lulu Mary moved to Salem, Oregon, without Porterfield.
Robert G. Porterfield, a cook at The Quelle, living with his wife Lulu at 2235 Hazel Avenue, Salem, Oregon (Salem City Directory)
Mary Lou and children settled in Eugene, Oregon. Porterfield lived with them a short time, before leaving, forever.
Lulu Mary Kehoe and William F. Folston, Jr.
William F. Folston, Jr.
Born: 23 November 1917, Mitchell, Wheeler County, Oregon
Died: 2 December 1976, Eugene, Lane County, Oregon(?)
Last address: 97402 Eugene Lane, Lane County, Eugene, Oregon
Folston's mother: Almira Jane Keyes
Born: ***?***, Oregon (father from New York, mother from Ohio)
Folston's father: William F. Folston
Born: About 1871, Michigan
Died: 18 May 1962, Crook County, Oregon
12 June 1950, Reno, Nevada
Their marriage application stated "Mary Lou Porterfield" as previously married and her husband deceased. All Mary Lou's husbands by previous marriages were still very much alive: Bernard F. Brautigan died in 1994, Robert Geoffrey Porterfield died in 1969, as did Arthur Martin Titland. Note that when she married Folston her divorce from Porterfield was not final; that came a full month later.
William David Folston
Born: 19 December 1950
Timeline: Lula Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) (Titland) (Porterfield) and William F. Folston, Jr.
William Folston, age 2, living in Mitchell County, Wheeler, Oregon. Other household members included father, William Folston, age 49, mother, Almira J. Folston, age 40; Agness E. Folston, age 17; Taleen O. Folston, age 14; James E. Folston, age 12; Laurance Folston, age 9; and Ellen L. Folston, age 7. All children noted as born in Oregon (U.S. Census)
William Folston, age 12, living in Mitchell County, Wheeler, Oregon. Other household members included father, William Folston, age 60; Elizabeth Folston, age 25; James Folston, age 22; Lawrence [sic] Folston, age 20; Ellen Folston, age 17; ; and Ruth Folston, age 9 (U.S. Census)
William F. Folston, Jr. enlisted for military service at Fort Lewis, Washington. He joined the Army Air Corps with the rank of Private. His stated education was four years of high school. He was single, with no dependents.
Obituary for Lula Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) (Titland) (Porterfield) (Folston)
MaryLou Folston of Eugene died Sept. 24 of age-related causes. She was 94. She was born April 7, 1911, in St. Louis to Michael and Bessie Dixson Kehoe. She married William "Bill" Folston Jr. in Reno, Nev., in 1948. He died Dec. 2, 1976. Folston went to high school in Tacoma, where she lived until the early 1940s. She then moved to Salem before moving to Eugene in 1945. A homemaker, Folston enjoyed collecting dolls, unicorns, fairy figurines and stuffed animals. Survivors include a son, William of Eugene; two daughters, Barbara Fitzhugh of Portland and Sandra Atkins of Martinsville, Ill.; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. A son, Richard Brautigan, died previously. No service is planned. Andreason's Cremation and Burial Service of Eugene is in charge of arrangements.
(The Register-Guard [Eugene, Oregon], 18 October 2005, p. D4.)
Richard Brautigan's marriages
Richard Brautigan married twice. His first marriage was to Virginia "Ginny" Dionne Alder. His second was to Akiko Nishizawa Yoshimura. Both marriages ended in separation and divorce.
8 June 1957, Reno, Nevada
VIRGINIA "GINNY" DIONNE ALDER
Born: 11 July 1934, Rexburg, Idaho
Moved to Hawaii, 1975. Currently living in Pahoa, Hawaii.
The ceremony was performed by Reverend Stephen C. Thomas, a Methodist minister. Witnesses were Ace W. Williams and Agnes Thomas. Neither Brautigan or Alder had been married previously. Both were twenty two years of age. Both gave San Francisco as their place of residence.
Father: Grover Cleveland Alder
Died: 1960, age 70
Grover Cleveland Alder grew up on a Nebraska farm. He taught school and worked as a car salesman. He joined the U. S. Army at age 27, and during World War I he flew a de Havilland bomber over France. Demobilized at the rank of Captain in 1919, Alder moved to Rexburg, Idaho, where he got involved in banking, the grocery business, and ranching. He prospered until the stock market crash in 1929, which destroyed his various businesses. Alder raised sheep until 1934, when disease wiped out his flocks. With his wife and daughter, Virginia, born that same year, Alder moved to California, where he parked cars in Hollywood, worked as a construction company bookkeeper, and real estate salesman.
24 December 1962, San Francisco, California
27 July 1970, San Francisco, California
Original petition filed: 13 January 1970
Interlocutory judgement issued: 17 February 1970
The divorce petition was served by Valerie Estes—she and Brautigan were involved since June 1968—to Virginia Alder, who lived at this time with Tony Aste and their children at 17410 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, California.
Ianthe Elizabeth Brautigan
Born: 25 March 1960, San Francisco, California
Married: 5 September 1981, Santa Rosa, California
Timeline: Virginia "Ginny" Dionne Alder and Richard Gary Brautigan
1958: Richard G. and Virginia D. "Brautigam" [sic] living at 1470 Washington Street. Virginia is noted as working as a secretary at the San Francisco Museum of Art. (Polk City Directory San Francisco)
1959: Richard and Virginia living at 461 Mississippi Street. Brautigan is noted as a "student." (Polk City Directory San Francisco)
1960: Richard G. and Virginia D. living at 575 Pennsylvania Avenue. Brautigan is noted as a "lab tech." (Polk City Directory San Francisco)
1961-1965: No listings for Virgina Alder, or Brautigan in Polk City Directory San Francisco
1966: Richard "Brantigan" [sic] living at 2830 California Street. (Polk City Directory San Francisco)
Virginia "Ginny" Dionne (Alder) Brautigan and Anthony "Tony" Frederic Aste
After separating from Brautigan 24 December 1962, Virginia Alder began a relationship with Anthony "Tony" Frederic Aste.
Anthony (Tony) Frederic Aste
Born: 5 August 1943, Salt Lake City(?), Utah
Died: 17 January 1996, San Francisco, California
Aste died of a heart attack, in his car, at 400 China Basin Street, in San Francisco.
Aste's Death Certificate notes his address as 4770 Mission Street #412, San Francisco, California
Death Certificate also notes that Aste "never married." No marriage records have been found.
Father: Fred Herman Aste
Mother: Phyllis Elaine Evens
Born: ***?***, South Dakota
Born: 19 February 1965, San Francisco, California
Mara S. Born: 22 May 1968, San Francisco, California
Born 24 November 1969, Sonoma, California
Timeline: Virginia "Ginny" Dionne Alder Brautigan and Anthony "Tony" Frederic Aste
1962-1965(?): Alder and Aste moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, Aste's home. An undated notation among Brautigan's papers reads:
815 First Ave.
Salt Lake City, UT
1961-1965: No listings for Virgina Alder (Brautigan) or Anthony Aste in Polk City Directory San Francisco. The first of three children to Alder and Aste, Ellen, is born 19 February 1965, in San Francisco, California.
1966: Anthony Aste and Virginia living at 426 Francisco Street. Virginia is noted as a "student." (Polk City Directory San Francisco)
1967: Anthony Aste and Virginia living at 426 Francisco Street. Virginia is noted as a "student." (Polk City Directory San Francisco)
1968: Second child, Mara S., born 22 May 1968, San Francisco, California.
1969: Third child, Jesse, born 24 November 1969, Sonoma, California.
1970: Virginia Alder (Brautigan) and Aste living at 17140 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, California, in Sonoma County's Valley of the Moon.
1988: Aste living in Bodega Bay, California (Post Office Box 144)
1996: Aste living at 4770 Mission Street #412, San Francisco, California.
1 December 1977, Richmond, California
Akiko Nishizawa Yoshimura
Born: 1944, Sapporo, Japan
4(?) December 1979, San Francisco, California
Divorced(2): 12 November 1980, San Francsico, California
12 November 1980, San Francsico, California
Petition for divorce filed: 10 January 1980
Interlocutory decree entered San Francisco County Superior Court: 30 October 1980
Akiko remarried and lives in San Francisco as Akiko Sakagami.
Monday, 18 July 1927
Lulu Mary Kehoe (1911-2005; commonly called Mary Lou) and Bernard Frederick Brautigan (1908-1994) married in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. Their marriage ceremony was performed by Frank A. McGuire, Justice of the Peace, Tacoma, Washington. Witnesses to the marriage were Mrs. William Morisette (Rebecca, Bernard's mother) and Eleanor Morisette (Bernard's step-sister). Their marriage certificate notes Mary Lou's address as 813 East 56th Street, Tacoma, Washington; Bernard's as 314 1/2 East 26th Street, Tacoma, Washington. Both were eighteen. Their first and only child was Richard Gary Brautigan, born 1935. See Biography > Family.
No listing for either Mary Lou of Bernard in Tacoma City Directory
"Lulu and Ben Brautigan" reported living at 1945 Fawcetta [sic] Avenue, Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma City Directory).
"Lulu and Benj Braugitan [sic] / Bernard Brautigan" reported living at 813 East 65th Street, Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma City Directory).
"Lulu and Benj F. Brautigan [sic]" reported living at 2830 South L Street, Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma City Directory).
Mary Lou and Bernard Brautigan separated in April 1934, according to divorce papers filed by Bernard in 1938 (see below).
Highlights: Brautigan born . . . Early childhood in Tacoma, Washington.
Brautigan born. Early childhood in Tacoma, Washington.
No listing for Lulu Mary or Bernard Brautigan in the 1935 Tacoma City Directory.
Wednesday, 30 January 1935
Despite the fact that the names of both Mary Lou and Bernard were noted on Brautigan's State of Washington Birth Certificate, there are several accounts contending that Bernard and Mary Lou separated prior to Brautigan's birth, and that Bernard never knew he had a son.
For example, Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, writes in her memoir about her father, You Can't Catch Death, that Mary Lou and Bernard separated before Brautigan was born, before she knew she was pregnant. Ianthe also reports that Mary Lou said, "I left him [Bernard] with everything I owned in a paper sack. I didn't even know that I was pregnant" (Ianthe Brautigan 160). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Obituaries published at the time of Richard Brautigan's death in 1984 note Bernard saying he never knew Richard was his son, or even that he had a son named Richard Brautigan. For example, in an article, "Bernard Brautigan," in the Detroit Free Press, Bernard denies any knowledge of his son, Richard Brautigan. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Obituaries > Bernard.
"Only the proof of birth records and confirmation from his ex-wife convinced him. Said a shaken Brautigan, 'I don't know nothing about him. He's got the same last name, but why would they wait 45 to 50 years to tell me I've got a son.'" (Anonymous 14F). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Obituaries > Bernard.
The story comes from a UPI news feed titled "Brautigan" which provides more information about Bernard, Mary Lou, and their son, Richard. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Obituaries > Bernard.
Most accounts note that Brautigan never knew his biological father. Some accounts say that he and his father met only twice, briefly. Ianthe Brautigan said, "My father [Richard Brautigan] said he met [his father] only twice. When he was about four, Mary Lou had pushed him into a room with his father. My father watched him shave without saying a word and then his father handed him a dollar. And the second time my father was about six or seven and passed [his father] on a street near the restaurant where his mother was working as a cashier. His father stopped and said hello and gave him fifty cents" (Ianthe Brautigan 196). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Keith Abbott's recollections were different, yet very similar. Abbott said Brautigan "claimed that he had only met his father twice. The first time was in a hotel where, 'I was pushed into this room and a man there gave me a silver dollar to go see a movie.' The second time he saw his father he was in a barbershop. 'He had shaving cream all over his face and I said who I was and he gave me some money to see a movie that time, too'" (Abbott 100). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Surrounding these accounts is the notion of bad feelings between Brautigan's parents. Mary Lou and Bernard seem to have had little, if any, contact following their separation, or during Brautigan's life, a period of nearly fifty years. An article by Mark Barabak in the San Francisco Chronicle, five days after Brautigan's body was discovered, titled "Brautigan's Suicide Rekindles Bad Feelings" quotes Bernard, Mary Lou, and her sister, Evelyn (Keho) Fjetland, regarding who knew what and when. All parties seek to place blame and conflict arises anew. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Obituaries > Barabak.
No listing for Lulu Mary in Tacoma City Directory. "Bernard F. Brautigan" reported living at 713 South 17th Street (Tacoma City Directory).
Bernard Brautigan noted but no address provided in Tacoma City Directory.
"Mrs. Lulu Brautigan" reported living at 1346 Fawcette [sic] Avenue, Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma City Directory). Assumably, her son, Richard, was with her.
Friday, 21 October 1938
Bernard Frederick Brautigan filed a Summons and Complaint with the Pierce County Court seeking divorce from Lulu Mary on the grounds of abandonment. Bernard, plaintiff alleges that Lulu Brautigan, defendent, abandoned him in Tacoma, Washington in April 1934, "and has ever since said date of abandonment lived separate and apart from the plaintiff and still lives so."
Bernard also alleged that "No children have been born as issue of such union," his marriage with Mary Lou.
Mary Lou failed to respond to the court summons and so an order of default was granted Bernard on 25 November 1938. The final divorce decree was issued 17 January 1940.
Later, when he enlisted in the U. S. Army, 4 May 1942, Bernard noted his marital status as "divorced, without dependents."
Allegedly, Mary Lou and Brautigan moved quite a bit during this time, living with relatives or alone. Ianthe Brautigan reports they lived above a candy factory in Tacoma, Washington and that Brautigan spent the first eight years of his life in Tacoma, growing up in bleak poverty, neglect, and abuse (Ianthe Brautigan 160, 195, 196). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
"Bernard F. Brautigan" reported living at 1513 1/2 South Tacoma Avenue (Tacoma City Directory).
"Lulu and Arth M. Titland" [sic] reported living at 1004 1/2 South 11th, Apartment 3, Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma City Directory).
Monday, 1 May 1939
Brautigan's sister, Barbara Jo Titland born. Her birth certificate notes Arthur Martin Titland (1901?-1969) as father; Lulu Mary Kehoe as mother. Their address was 1004 1/2 South 11th, Tacoma, Washington. Arthur Titland was employed as a truck driver; Lulu Kehoe was a housewife. Barbara Jo was noted as Lulu Mary's second child (Richard Brautigan was her first). There is no record that Lulu Mary Kehoe (Brautigan) and Arthur Martin Titland ever married, a fact confirmed by Barbara Jo who said she met her father only twice in her life (Interview with John F. Barber, 17 March 2012).
As noted above, Mary Lou and Bernard Brautigan separated in April 1934, their divorce was granted 25 November 1938, and was finalized 17 January 1940. So, Barbara was born before Mary Lou was divorced from Bernard Brautigan.
Titland, born in Tacoma, was reported living there in 1920 with his mother Cecelia (age 52), his father Robert O. Titland (age 56), and younger brother Russell R. Titland (age 11) (1920 U.S. Census). In 1930, at age 29, Titland worked as a machinist aboard the SS Tourist, a ship owned and operated by Puget Sound Navigation Company, Seattle, Washington. His address was noted as 915 South Sheridan Ave., Tacoma, Washington (U.S. Census). See Biography > Family.
Brautigan enrolled in first grade at Central Avenue Grade School, Tacoma, Washington. Childhood in Tacoma.
"Lulu and Arth M. Titland" [sic] reported living at 721 Fawcett, Tacoma, Washington (Tacoma City Directory). This is the last listing for Lulu Mary Brautigan (Titland) (Porterfield) (Folston) in the Tacoma City Directory.
Brautigan receives a tonsillectomy. He contracts mumps, whooping cough, and chicken pox.
Mary Lou moved herself and her children around Tacoma frequently, from one low-rent accommodation to another. Barbara Jo said, "It seemed like whenever things got difficult, my mother would move, rather than deal with the problem" (Interview with John F. Barber, 17 March 2012 and William Hjortsberg 33; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg). Once the family lived in an apartment below the Lynn Mortuary, a point Brautigan incorporated in So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, the last novel published in his lifetime.
Brautigan, growing up in Tacoma, 1940-1943, was surrounded by World War II. Fort Lewis was located nearby, and Tacoma itself was a major staging point for aircraft headed into the Pacific Theater. In one of his notebooks, dated 1976, Brautigan recounts the intersection of his childhood and the war effort.
"I was raised on war newsreels. Films taken of bombs falling on Germany . . . of battleships shelling islands in the South Pacific. I was raised on war."
In another notebook, dated 1975, Brautigan remembers "the first time I saw a Flying Fortress."
In the short story "The Ghost Children of Tacoma," collected in Revenge of the Lawn, Brautigan wrote, "The children of Tacoma, Washington, went to war in December 1941. It seemed like the thing to do, following in the footsteps of their parents and other grown-ups who acted as if they knew what was happening. . . . Children can kill imaginary enemies just as well as adults can kill real enemies. It went on for years" (73).
Brautigan recounted, in his story, killing imaginary enemies and playing airplane in the house with his sister, Barbara.
Wednesday, 20 January 1943
Lulu Mary married Robert Geoffrey "Tex" Porterfield (1904-1969) in a Lutheran ceremony conducted by Pastor Barton W. Smith in Tacoma, Washington. See Biography > Family.
Porterfield, born in Deadwood, South Dakota, was a cook at Laughlin's Cafe, on Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington. Mary Lou worked there also, as a cashier (William Hjortsberg 36; See References Biographies). Both Brautigan and his sister, Barbara, neither of whom knew their real fathers, used Porterfield's surname. Brautigan changed his surname to "Brautigan" just before his high school graduation in 1953. This marriage marked the beginning of a difficult and unpleasant childhood period for Brautigan. Robert Creeley described some details in his obituary, "The Gentle on the Mind Number" written for Brautigan. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Creeley.
17 March 1943
Arthur M. Titland begins service in the United States Navy.
Mary Lou and Porterfield separated. He traveled to Great Falls, Montana, for a job as a fry cook. She, and her children, remained in Tacoma, Washington, but were persuaded by Porterfield to visit him in Montana.
14 February 1944
Mary Lou and her children, Brautigan and Barbara, traveled by train to Great Falls, Montana, for a Valentine's Day reunion with Porterfield, who worked there as a cook. After two weeks, put off by Porterfield's drinking and carousing, Mary Lou returned to Tacoma, leaving Brautigan and Barbara in a rooming house with Porterfield (William Hjortsberg 37). See References > Biographies.
Barbara, Brautigan's sister, does not remember Porterfield, or being left by her mother. She does remember meeting the passenger trains at the depot and waiting for the porters to throw them small pieces of wrapped candy. She also remembers sliding on frozen ponds or puddles of water in their shoes, "It was shoe skating because we did not own ice skates" (interview with John F. Barber, 17 March 2012).
Porterfield returned to Tacoma the following spring or summer, with Barbara and Brautigan (see below).
Brautigan related stories about being left in Great Falls, Montana, with Porterfield. "My mother left me in Great Falls alone with one of my stepfathers, who was a fry cook. I would eat meals at his place and lived in a hotel room by myself. I was seven years old" (Ianthe Brautigan 89). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
The experience also found its way into Brautigan's fiction. In 1956, Brautigan hand-wrote the manuscript for There's Always Somebody Who Is Enchanted, a collection of nine short stories. One story was "trite story," later collected in The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings, about spending a winter in Butte, Montana, after his mother "had run off with a man named Frank, or Jack." Brautigan described his father, Robert Porterfield, as a cook whom he seldom saw "except when I ate my meals, because he was living with a whore named Virginia." Virginia did not like Brautigan, and so he had his own hotel room (Edna Webster Collection 68). Of note, the winter was actually spent in Great Falls, Montana, but in the original manuscript, Brautigan scratched out Great Falls and replaced it with Butte.
Rip Torn provided this variation on the story. "Legend has it that Richard's mother was a barmaid, a good-hearted woman with lots of boyfriends. She had a baby boy and an older girl [actually, Richard was older than his sister, Barbara] and sometimes abandoned them for long periods to run and throw a fling. Richard told me that, at about age four, his mother took his sister and left him in the care of a boyfriend, a fry-cook who lived in a corner room of an old hotel and worked in the kitchen below. The fry-cook, having no funds for a baby-sitter, tied Richard to the bedpost. Richard remembered this man with affection. "He gave me enough slack so I could get to the can and, more important, I could get to the corner and look out the window." (Rip Torn 134). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Torn.
Lawrence Wright reported yet another version, saying both Brautigan and his sister, Barbara, were abandoned in a hotel room in Great Falls, Montana by their mother. Brautigan, age nine, was expected to take care of Barbara, age four. In the mornings, Mr. Porterfield [Brautigan's stepfather], a cook, made breakfast for Brautigan in the hotel restaurant and gave him a dollar. Brautigan and Barbara played in the railroad yards, waving at passengers in passing trains, and skating in their shoes on a frozen pond. Eventually, their mother reclaimed them and took them home to Tacoma, Washington. Soon afterwards they moved to Eugene, Oregon (Lawrence Wright 40). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright.
Keith Abbott related the abandonment story, second hand, in his memoir Downstream from Trout Fishing in America. He writes of being told by Ianthe Brautigan, who said she was told by Brautigan, that both Brautigan and his sister were abandoned in a Great Falls hotel. Brautigan was expected to be the sole support for his sister. They were fed by a sympathetic cook in the hotel. She said her father told her he could not sleep at night, that he stayed awake waiting for his mother to return, and that he suffered from insomnia ever since (Keith Abbott 43). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Porterfield returned, with Brautigan and sister, Barbara, to Tacoma. Their reunion did not last. In the summer, Mary Lou and the children moved to Salem, Oregon, allegedly without Porterfield (William Hjortsberg 37). They lived in Salem for fourteen months, changing addresses three or four times. Both Brautigan and Barbara were boarded out with other families as their mother, Mary Lou, prepared for the birth of her child by Porterfield. See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 1 April 1945
Stepsister Sandra Jean Porterfield was born at Salem General Hospital, Salem, Oregon. Her birth certificate notes Robert Porterfield as her father.
Brautigan received an appendectomy, to remove a burst appendix at Salem General Hospital.
"Robert G. Porterfield and Lulu," apparently reunited again, are reported living at 2235 Hazel Avenue, Salem, Oregon. Porterfield noted as a cook at The Quelle (Salem City Directory. Mary Lou's obituary notes that prior to moving to Eugene, the family lived in Salem, Oregon.
This was the last attempt at reconciliation between Mary Lou and Porterfield, following in the national euphoria from the end of World War II, 14 August 1945. It did not work. Mary Lou left with her children and moved to Eugene, Oregon (William Hjortsberg 38). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan attended Grade 5 at Lincoln Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon.
Brautigan and his family lived at Seal's Motel, 1600 Sixth Avenue, Eugene, Oregon, a place he remembered in So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away as two room cabin with a kitchenette and bath (William Hjortsberg 39). This was one of many accommodations Brautigan and his family lived in provided through public assistance. In the same novel, Brautigan recounts the poverty of his childhood and how this made him a social outcast at school (Hjortsberg 93). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
According to a "Family Questionnaire" she completed when Brautigan was committed to the Oregon State Hospital on 24 December 1955, Mary Lou Folston noted that Brautigan underwent surgery on a gland in his neck. The physician was Dr. Campbell, of the Eugene Hospital and Clinic. In the same document Mary Lou noted that Brautigan's spinal scoliosis developed in 1947.
Brautigan attended Grade 6 at Lincoln Elementary School, West 10th and Monroe, in Eugene, Oregon.
During the school year, Brautigan served as member of Junior Safety Patrol. Brautigan's Junior Safety Patrol Citation listed his name as "Richard Porterfield."
Brautigan and his family moved from Seal's Motel to a rental house owned by Francis Shields, 1765 West 13th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon. Nearby was an abandoned wrecking yard where Brautigan and his sister, Barbara, played. This may have provided inspiration for The Forgotten Works in Brautigan's novel, In Watermelon Sugar. Also nearby were abandoned warehouses engulfed in blackberry vines. Inside a thick patch, Brautigan and Barbara discovered the carcass of a Ford Model A automobile. Brautigan climbed down into the blackberry bramble and sat in the driver's seat of the abandoned automobile. This experience provided the genesis for his short story, "Blackberry Motorist." During the summer, they picked fruit and vegetables, using the money they earned to buy clothes for school in the fall. Brautigan and his friends, Gary Stewart, Melvin Corbin, and the Hiebert twins, Donald and Ronald, played and fished and hatched elaborate practical jokes together. Johnnie Hiebert, younger brother to Donald and Ronald, suffered from a hernia and loved to drink Kool-Aid. Brautigan immortalized Johnnie in his novel Trout Fishing in America as "The Kool-Aid Wino" (William Hjortsberg 41-42, 44, 45). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Attended Grade 7 at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Eugene, Oregon, 12th and Madison. Received a certificate for attending the Junior High Week Day Church School in Eugene, Oregon. Brautigan's certificate of attendance was signed by his teacher, Mrs. Paden, who filled in his name as "Richard Porterfield."
Willliam Hjortsberg says that Brautigan played played center for the Woodrow Wilson Junior High school basketball team in the fall of 1947. But, after only one year, Brautigan switched to the First Baptist church team who played against other Eugene, Oregon, denominational teams in a YMCA-organized league. Brautigan and the First Baptist team won the league championship but lost any further opportunity at the regional finals in Walla Walla, Washington (William Hjortsberg 46). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan's mother Mary Lou met William Folston (1917-1976), who lived with his father at 1287 Hayes Street. Folston, half Nez Percé, born in Wheeler, Oregon, had recently been discharged from military service. He joined the Army Air Corps at Fort Lewis, Washington, in 1941. Mary Lou, Brautigan, and his sister, Barbara, soon moved in with Folston.
Attended Grade 8 at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Eugene, Oregon, 12th and Madison, school year 1948-1949.
Attended Grade 9 at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Eugene, Oregon, 12th and Madison. His courses there included Speech and Language, General Mathematics, Science, Physical Education, Health, and Fine Arts, school year 1949-1950.
Tuesday, 29 March 1949
Donald Husband, Brautigan's ninth-grade classmate, was killed in a shooting accident involving a .22 rifle while hunting pheasants in an old apple orchard on Bailey Hill in Eugene, Oregon. The memory of this accident stuck with Brautigan and became one of the central themes in his novel So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away.
Although not married, Brautigan's mother, Mary Lou, and William Folston were living together. In fact, Mary Lou suffered a miscarriage this year. As with his other stepfathers, Brautigan suffered abuse and neglect. One example was when Folston and his brothers took Brautigan deer hunting in Eastern Oregon. Jennifer Foote quoted Mary Lou Folston, Brautigan's mother, saying, "I don't think he was very fond of my husband. They went hunting once, and there was a rift." Young Brautigan came back from the trip and told his mother that Uncle Larry, her husband's brother, had poured cold water in his ear as he lay in his sleeping bag and then killed a deer and rubbed the blood all over him. "Richard was shocked," she said. "After that there was cold dead silence" (Foote D8). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Foote. William Hjortsberg recounts this same story in his Brautigan biography, Jubilee Hitchhiker (Hjortsberg 54). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Highlights: Mother married William Folston.
Times were hard after World War II, and Brautigan fished and hunted frequently, bringing home his catch for the family table. Brautigan and his sister Barbara pushed an old baby buggy along the roads looking for glass bottles to recycle for money, an experience he described in the poem "The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth's Beer Bottles" (See Poetry Uncollected > 1957 > poem title) and recounted in So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away. Brautigan did yard work and odd chores for a Mrs. Manerrude, widow of a wealthy Eugene lumber and fuel family. She lived in a large house near the University of Oregon campus, and Brautigan included her in the "Trout Fishing in the Street of Eternity" chapter of his novel Trout Fishing in America when he described an eighty-two-pound woman living in a mansion of at least thirty rooms. With money earned picking string beans he bought a used bicycle so he could have a paper route. When he was old enough he started working in a Eugene Fruit Growers Association cannery, and continued every season until he graduated from Eugene High School, 17th and Charnelton (Ianthe Brautigan 193, 199, 202). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
School year 1950-1951
Brautigan entered Eugene High School in Eugene, Oregon from Woodrow Wilson Junior High School on 12 September 1950. Eugene High School was located at 17th and Charnelton.
A new high school opened at 19th and Patterson in 1953, with the first class graduating the following year. This new high school was named Eugene High School and then renamed again, in 1957, as South Eugene High School, after North Eugene High School was built.
The original Eugene High School was renamed Woodrow Wilson Junior High, replacing the original junior high school of the same name at 12th and Madison.
Brautigan's Grade 10 courses included Speech and Language, Biology, Speech, Typing, and Physical Education.
Brautigan's mother, Mary Lou, married William Folston, Jr., 12 June 1950, at the Washoe County Courthouse in Reno, Nevada, in a brief ceremony performed by District Judge A. J. Maestretti. Folston worked as a tire changer at Wyatt's Tire Company. The family lived together at 1287 Hayes Street, Eugene, Oregon (Eugene City Directory).
Their marriage application stated "Mary Lou Porterfield" as previously married and her husband deceased. All Mary Lou's husbands by previous marriages were still very much alive, however: Bernard F. Brautigan died in 1994, Robert Geoffrey Porterfield died in 1969, as did Arthur Martin Titland whom Mary Lou apparently never officially married. When she married Folston Mary Lou's divorce from Porterfield was not final; that came a full month later. Furthermore, she was already pregnant by Folston.
Highlights: Met Peter Webster.
Brautigan, over six feet tall, continued to play basketball at the First Baptist Church in Eugene. He began playing with this team in 1947. Because of his height, Brautigan played center. During one of the league games, Brautigan first met Peter Webster, who played for First Christian. Brautigan and Webster met again in 1953 when both worked for the Eugene Fruit Growers Association and became best friends. Peter Webster and his family, especially Edna Webster, his mother and Linda, his sister, would, within two years, become central to Brautigan's life.
Brautigan's picture, in his high school annual, noted his name as "R. Porterfield."
Brautigan worked for the Eugene Fruit Growers Association.
School year 1951-1952
Grade 11 at Eugene High School (17th and Charnelton). Courses included English, United States History, Algebra 1, Physics, Health, Physical Education, and Radio and Speech.
Highlights: Established "Brautigan" surname . . . Earliest publication.
Brautigan worked for the Eugene Fruit Growers Association.
Brautigan learned that his real last name was "Brautigan" and not "Porterfield," the surname of his mother's second husband Robert Porterfield. See Biography > Family. Brautigan may have asked his mother for information about his real father, or she felt his high school diploma should bear the correct name (Ianthe Brautigan 197). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Ianthe. William Hjortsberg suggests the later (William Hjortsberg 56). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg. Either way, nearing the end of high school, Brautigan changed his last name from "Porterfield" to "Brautigan."
Tuesday, 19 December 1952
Brautigan's poem "The Light" was first published in Brautigan's high school newspaper, the Eugene High School News, 19 December 1952: 5. This is Brautigan's earliest known publication and the first bearing his surname "Brautigan." The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry Uncollected > 1952 > Light.
Highlights: Graduated high school . . . first publication in a book-length collection.
Grade 12 at Eugene High School (17th and Charnelton). Courses included English, Speech, Chemistry, Bookkeeping, Creative Writing, and Typing.
Overall, Brautigan was remembered by his classmates as being tall, blond, quiet, and a loner. His mother said Brautigan read a lot and often helped school mates with their homework (Ianthe Brautigan 198). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes#ianthe1 > Memoirs > Ianthe.
An influential person may have been one of Brautigan's English teachers, Juliet Claire Gibson (Don Bishoff 1B; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Bishoff). Possibly through Gibson, Brautigan discovered the poetry of Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams. Both influenced his own writing: Dickinson with her persona of the poet as an eccentric outsider writing telegrams from a parallel universe and Williams with his insistence on forgoing outdated poetic forms to write in vernacular about subjects that had an immediate impact on readers. Brautigan wrote throughout high school, and according to his half-sister, Barbara, often wrote all night (Lawrence Wright 40; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright) in his unheated bedroom (Ianthe Brautigan 201; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes#ianthe1 > Memoirs > Ianthe).
His parents did not support Brautigan's writing efforts. "My folks rode him a lot," said Barbara. "They never listened to what he was writing. They didn't understand his writing was important to him. I know they asked him to get out of the house several times" (Lawrence Wright 59). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright
Brautigan was rejected for military service because of scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spinal column to one side) and kyphosis (excessive outward curvature of the spinal column, causing hunching of the back).
10 April 1953
An article in the Eugene High School News (10 April 1953), titled "Poets' Prize Poems Published," noted Brautigan as one of ten Eugene High students whose work would be included in a forthcoming anthology. Published later in the spring, the book, Young America Sings: 1953 Anthology of Northwest States High School Poetry, included Brautigan's poem, "The Ochoco." (Los Angeles, CA: National High School Poetry Association. 1953, p. 120). This was Brautigan's first appearance in a book-length publication. This poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry Uncollected > 1953 > Ochoco.
Tuesday, 9 June 1953
Brautigan graduated from Eugene High Schoolhigh school in an 8:00 PM ceremony at McArthur Court, a large auditorium on the University of Oregon campus (William Hjorstberg 57; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg). The surname on his diploma read "Brautigan," as did his picture in the school yearbook. His senior picture showed him dressed in a jacket and tie, pale, and smiling. He was not listed as a member of any clubs, or having had participated in any school activities. His only extracurricular activity was the publication of his poem, "The Light," in the school newspaper. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry Uncollected > 1952 > Light.
After graduation, Brautigan worked for the Eugene Fruit Growers Association.
Ianthe Brautigan says her father worked in a pickle factory run by the Association and at other odd jobs (Ianthe Brautigan 161). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Lorna Webster, sister of Linda and Peter, does not recall the pickle factory. Instead,
As I recall [the Eugene Fruit Growers Association] produced "Diamond A" brand green beans, and other fruits and vegetables which were grown locally. Beans were a big product from the farms in the area. My brother Pete worked with Brautigan there.
— Lorna Webster. Email to John F. Barber, 19 March 2006.
Deanna Hershiser, daughter of Peter Webster, writes that Webster worked on the green bean canning line, while Brautigan worked canning beets. Webster and Brautigan met again while working this summer. Their friendship was sealed when Brautigan invited Webster to join him for a day of fishing on the South Fork of the McKenzie River (Deanna Hershiser 76). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Hershiser.Brautigan and Webster became best friends and Brautigan often visited with Peter and his family, sisters Linda, and Lorna, and mother Edna Webster at their 41 Madison Street residence. Edna became Brautigan's surrogate mother. Peter and Brautigan fished the lakes and streams around Eugene. To earn money, they sold earthworms and Christmas trees (Bob Keefer and Quail Dawning 2H; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Dawning) and Deanna Hershiser 76; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Hershiser). Edna's youngest daughter, Linda, is often cited as Brautigan's first girlfriend.
Monday, 24 August 1953
Brautigan's poem "A Cigarette Butt" was first published in The Register Guard, Aug. 24, 1953, p. 8A. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1953 > Cigarette.
Sunday, 11 October 1953
Brautigan's poem "Moonlight on a Cemetery" was first published in The Northwest's Own Magazine, Oct. 11, 1953, p. 10. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry Uncollected > 1953 > Moonlight.
Sunday, 29 November 1953
Brautigan's poem "Winter Sunset" was first published in The Northwest's Own Magazine, Nov. 29, 1953, p. 11. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1953 > Sunset.
Highlights: Worked for Eugene Fruit Growers Association . . . In San Francisco?
Brautigan was determined to be a writer of poetry, short stories, and novels. He felt attending a university would not help his career goals, and money for tuition was not available. Edward Foster said Brautigan concentrated on writing poetry—"as inevitable perhaps for anyone caught up in the Beat generation as learning to play guitar would be for the generation a decade later" (Foster 7). See References > Studies > Foster.
With a desire to be a writer, it is natural that Brautigan would consider going to the center of writing on the West Coast: San Francisco. Jennifer Foote says, "Brautigan had tried to leave home and live in San Francisco's North Beach four times before he actually had enough money to stay there. He circulated among the Beats and wrote constantly" (Foote D8). Foote provides no evidence of these four attempts by Brautigan to leave Oregon and establish residency in San Francisco.
Several writers claim that Brautigan moved to San Francisco in 1954. For example, Jay Acton, Alan le Mond, and Parker Hodges say Brautigan "moved to San Francisco in 1954" (Acton, et. al. 26). See References > Literary > Jay Acton.
Helen Donlon also said, "In 1954, Brautigan left his home, his mother and younger sister, Barbara, and headed for the city—arriving in San Francisco" (Helen Donlon 1). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Donlon.
Janusz K. Buda said "Brautigan moved to San Francisco in 1954, and was soon involved in the literary groups that were springing up in the area" (Buda 23). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Buda.
Warren French said Brautigan moved to San Francisco, "from the state of Washington [actually, Oregon] in 1954, when he was nineteen and the Beats were just gathering. He quickly became associated with them and lived for a time with Philip Whalen (French 84).
French also said "In 1955, he [Brautigan] was included in the book Four New Poets from a local press" but that book was not published until the fall of 1957. This was Brautigan's first inclusion in a poetry anthology. See Contributions Four New Poets.
Craig Thompson said Brautigan moved to San Francisco in 1954 and "at one time, shared an apartment with Philip Whalen" (Thompson 286). See References > Literary > Thompson.
Ingrid Sterner said, "Brautigan, in 1954 moved to San Francisco, the destination of many of the disaffected youth of his generation, and became involved in the Beat literary movement (Sterner 97). See References > Literary > Sterner.
Finally, Edward Halsey Foster said "In 1954, he [Brautigan] moved to San Francisco, then on the verge of becoming the literary center of the Beat generation. . . . Brautigan had not been drawn to San Francisco by the Beat movement, but we was soon involved with it. He became friendly with Lawrence Ferlinghetti poet, publisher, and owner of City Lights Books, poet Michael McClure, and Beat poet Philip Whalen, a fellow Northwesterner with whom he shared an apartment, reportedly south of Market Street" (Foster 7). See References > Studies > Foster.
While many of the details in these accounts can be verified, the date in each, 1954, is unsubstantiated. Possibly one author got the date wrong, and others quoted it as fact. If not in San Francisco in 1954, Brautigan was apparently thinking about leaving Eugene, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest. According to Deanna Hershiser, daughter of Peter Webster, Brautigan's boyhood friend, Webster recalls Brautigan asking him to come to San Francisco.
Feedback from Deanna Hershiser
"I asked my dad about his memory of Richard's trip(s) to San Francisco. He recalls the last time the two of them had a face-to-face conversation. It was in 1954, and Richard urged Dad to come with him to the Bay Area. Dad was fully involved then with college and dating my mom (they may have just become engaged). So he told Richard no thanks. He doesn't know whether or not Richard made it soon after that to San Francisco. The next time Dad spoke to him was in 1970, when they had a long phone conversation."
— Deanna Hershiser. Email to John F. Barber, 26 December 2009.
Sunday, 7 February 1954
Brautigan's poem "The Ageless Ones" was first published in The Northwest's Own Magazine, Feb. 7, 1954, p. 21. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1954 > poem title.
Brautigan worked for the Eugene Fruit Growers Association.
There is more evidence that Brautigan was not living in San Francisco in 1954, but rather remained in the Eugene, Oregon, area, throughout 1955. See below.
Highlights: Leaves family home; takes up residence in a rooming house . . . More poetry published . . . Oregon State Hospital.
Saturday, 29 May 1955
Brautigan's poem "So Many Twilights" published in Northwest Roto Magazine, May 29, 1955, p. 9. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1955 > poem title.
Brautigan left his family home at 1287 Hayes Street, Eugene, Oregon, and established his residence in a boarding house run by Hal Barton, a Quaker, at 467 West 17th Avenue, near Lawrence Street, where he lived alone and worked at his writing.
Brautigan's move was predicated by disfunction, and alleged threats at home. By his own accounts, Mary Lou was an alcoholic, whose abuse and abandonment ruined any opportunity for a healthy connection between she and Brautigan.
"My mother left me in Great Falls alone with one of my stepfathers [Robert Porterfield], who was a fry cook. I would eat meals at his place and lived in a hotel room by myself. I was seven years old" (Ianthe Brautigan 89). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Brautigan wrote a short story, called "trite story," later included in The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings, about spending a winter in Butte, Montana, after his mother "had run off with a man named Frank, or Jack." Brautigan described his father, Robert Porterfield, as a cook whom he seldom saw "except when I ate my meals, because he was living with a whore named Virginia." Virginia did not like Brautigan, and so he had his own hotel room (68). See Collections > Edna. Of note, the winter was actually spent in Great Falls, Montana, but in the original manuscript, Brautigan scratched out Great Falls and replaced it with Butte.
Brautigan also wrote poems about his mother. One, titled "dear old mommie" compares her to a mole (The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings 10). In another poem, "farewell to my oedipus complex," Brautigan wrote about giving his mother "a time bomb" for Christmas (The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings 94). See Collections > Edna.
Neither Mary Lou nor William F. Folston, Jr. (her third husband) understood Brautigan's bohemian lifestyle, his refusal to seek gainful employment, or his insistence on becoming a writer and suggested he seek psychiatric help, or leave the family home. Brautigan choose the latter, moving into a rooming house at 467 West 17th, in Eugene, operated by Harold Barton, a Quaker and member of the American Friends Service Committee, an organization committed to social justice and humanitarian service. Both Harold and his wife Lois were friends and supporters of Brautigan and sought to help him establish a stable living environment. Brautigan used the room as a place to continue his writing.
Peter Webster remembers sitting in Brautigan's rented room, listening to him read his writing. "He was a good poet even then and I loved the sound of his voice," said Webster (Bob Keefer and Quail Dawning 2H; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Dawning). Webster, a college sophomore, often visited Brautigan in his rented room. Webster typed his college papers there, and while listening to Brautigan read his poems and stories, thought he would one day be a famous writer (Deanna Hershiser 76). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Hershiser.
Sometime during the summer, Brautigan fell in love with Peter's sister, Linda Webster. Linda was fourteen, just beginning high school. Brautigan was twenty, with some publication success, but struggling to become a writer. Brautigan wrote poems for Linda (and Edna) and other writings in which she is clearly a character. He shared his writing with Linda and sent stories to magazines in her name. None were ever accepted or published.
Beyond sharing writing, their relationship was innocent. Brautigan, raised Catholic, knew Linda was too young, that he would have to wait before they could be involved in a proper relationship. Worse, Linda was not interested in Brautigan. He struggled with confused emotions, unrequited love, and a broken heart for the rest of the year.
Sunday, 14 August 1955
Brautigan's poem "First Star on the Twilight River" was first published in Northwest Roto Magazine, Aug. 14, 1955, p. 23. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1955 > poem title.
Sunday, 2 October 1955
Brautigan's poem "Butterfly's Breath" published in Northwest Roto Magazine, Oct. 2, 1955: 14. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1955 > poem title.
Brautigan's poem "Someplace in the World a Man is Screaming in Pain" published in the autumn 1955 issue of Flame. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1955 > poem title.
Brautigan's poem "The Second Kingdom," a love poem inspired by Linda Webster, was accepted for publication in Epos, a literary journal edited by poet Evelyn Thorne in Lake Como, Florida. The poem was to be published in the winter issue, the following year, 1956. After publication, the poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1955 > poem title.
Brautigan submitted a short story entitled "My Name is Richard Brautigan" to Playboy. The story was rejected, but a personal note from the editor encouraged Brautigan to revise the story.
Lack of publishing success, lack of money, and a broken heart over his love for Linda Webster made life hard for Brautigan. His parents stopped paying the rent for his boarding house room and Brautigan was forced to sell his typewriter. He had little or nothing to eat. Embarrassed and confused over why Linda was not interested in him, Brautigan wrote her letters and poems, but never shared them. Instead, he took them to Edna Webster, her mother and asked that he give them to her daughter. She never did.
Thursday, 3 November 1955
With a note dated this day, Brautigan gave Edna Webster several manuscripts of poetry and story collections, short novels, and experimental dramas written in the mid-1950s, as well as photographs and personal items. Several of these writings were dedicated to or referred to Edna and/or Linda.
Webster kept Brautigan's writing for years, selling them in October 1992. Many of the items in the collection, including Would You Like to Saddle Up a Couple of Goldfish and Swim to Alaska? and I Watched the World Glide Effortlessly Bye and Other Pieces, were published as The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings in 1999. See Collections > Edna.
A facsimile of Brautigan's hand-written note opens The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings.
On this third day of November, 1955, I, Richard Brautigan, give all of my writings to Edna Webster. They are now her property, and she may do what she wishes with them. If she has them published, all of the money derived from publication is hers.
Many of the items in the original collection were written prior to this date. Others were written later and perhaps given to Edna Webster for safe keeping when Brautigan moved to San Francisco, California. Others were manuscripts rejected by various publishers and returned, as per the return envelop Brautigan provided, to Edna Webster's Eugene, Oregon, address.
Tuesday, 22 November 1955
Desperately in need of cash for rent and food, Brautigan sold his typewriter. He began hand writing in spiral-ring school composition notebooks. He started a book of poetry, i love You, dedicated to Linda Webster. He planned to write the book in three days. On 27 November, two days beyond his self-imposed deadline, Brautigan finished the manuscript, noting that the book belonged to Linda, that he would not give it to her until he knew that she loved him.
"this is Linda Webster's book
it is a symbol of my love for her.
"i will not give this book to Linda
until i know that She loves me.
"it the world is going to get this book,
Linda will have to give it to the world.
"will i give this book to Linda?
will the world get this book?
"only God knows.
november 27th, 1955
Brautigan gave the notebook manuscript of poetry to Edna Webster, who, like the letters, earlier, never passed it along to Linda. Linda knew nothing of Brautigan's love for her until much later in her life; she never told him she loved him.
Malnutrition and emotional stress contributed to Brautigan's poor mental and physical health as fall gave way to winter. Brautigan developed a new religious fervor, praying for attention from Linda and recognition as America's next great writer. By the second week in December, he felt he was half-done with a new book of poetry, titled Behold This Place. He changed the title of a collection of short stories originally titled These Few Precious Days to What a Strange Place This Is. Unable to sleep, Brautigan frequently roamed the streets of Eugene, starving, broke, an unknown author, emotionally distraught.
Wednesday, 14 December 1955
At approximately 9:30 this evening, Brautigan broke a window at the Eugene Police Station. He was arrested and placed in the Lane County Jail. He was fined $25.00 and given a ten-day jail sentence. After serving seven of the ten days he was declared mentally ill and ordered committed to the Oregon State Hospital for observation and treatment. What are the details behind this story?
Earlier in the evening, hungry and needing money to buy food, Brautigan sought out Pete Webster at his dormitory on the campus of Northwest Christian College where he was enrolled. Deanna Hershiser notes in her memoir about her father, that Brautigan asked Webster to loan him $20.00. Webster answered, "I'll loan you twenty dollars after you pay me back all the other money you've borrowed" (Hershiser 76). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Hershiser.
Rebuked, Brautigan walked to Edna Webster's home, hoping to find solace in conversation with her.
Later that evening, still upset, Brautigan was arrested for disorderly conduct at the Eugene Police Station inside City Hall, corner of West 11th Avenue and Willamette Street. Built circa 1891 as Eugene High School, the impressive brick and stone building was converted into City Hall in 1915. Shortly after the new City Hall, 777 Pearl Street, was completed in 1964, the building was razed.
According to the report filed by Officer William Smith, Brautigan entered the police station at approximately 9:30 PM, approached Smith, the duty officer, and demanded to be put in jail. Smith replied that Brautigan could not be put in jail since he was not a criminal. Brautigan left the police station and returned with a rock, which he hurled through the glass panel of the station front door. Smith arrested Brautigan for disorderly conduct and jailed him overnight.
Other reports suggest that Brautigan filled his pockets with rocks before entering the Police Station, apparently determined to be arrested and placed in jail.
Thursday, 15 December 1955
Brautigan pleaded guilty to his charge during morning municipal court. Judge John L. Barber, Jr. continued the case until Saturday, 17 December. Brautigan was returned to the municipal jail.
A front page story in the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard was the first news of the situation.
"A Eugene man who said he wanted to go to jail got his wish Wednesday night.
"Police say Richard G. Brautigan, 20, of 467 W. 17th Ave., went in the city hall police station and announced, "I am a criminal. I am going to break the law."
"Then he hurled a rock through a window in the station and asked police to lock him up.
"Brautigan was jailed on a disorderly conduct charge. He pleaded guilty to the charge Thursday morning in municipal court and the case was continued to Saturday" (Anonymous. "Eugenean's Wish Granted." The Register-Guard, 15 Dec. 1955, p. 1).
Why did Brautigan break the window? His daughter, Ianthe, said Brautigan told her he broke the window purposefully, in order to be arrested. In jail, he thought, he would be given meals. He was hungry, a starving writer in Eugene, Oregon (Ianthe Brautigan 155, 162). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Another answer was suggested by James Sullivan who wrote that "Brautigan threw a tantrum and got arrested" over a disagreement about money loaned to him by his friend Peter Webster (Sullivan E6). This answer connects with Webster's recollections noted above. See Collections > Edna Webster > Reviews.
An often heard explanation begins with Lawrence Wright who said Brautigan showed his poetry to a girl on whom he had a crush. When she criticized his writing he was deeply affected. He turned himself into the police, asking to be arrested. When told there was no cause for his arrest, Brautigan threw rocks at a police station window. He was arrested and spent a week in jail (Wright 59). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright.
These explanations speak to a larger story. Brautigan was a starving writer, literally and figuratively. He lived alone in a boarding house. He was a loner, belonged to no clubs or social groups, and had few friends. He worked at odd jobs to earn a meager existence. Money was tight. He often could not afford to buy enough food. Still, he stuck with his dream of becoming a writer.
As for the girl, she was Linda Webster, fourteen years old, just beginning high school, daughter of Edna Webster, Brautigan's surrogate mother and sister to Pete Webster, his best friend. "Richard was madly in love with my daughter," recalled Edna. "But she was only 14 then. He thought he was crazy to love my daughter so much. I said, 'I don't think so, especially at your age'" (Bob Keefer and Quail Dawning 2H). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Keefer and Dawning.
Brautigan, twenty, knew Linda was too young, but struggled with confused emotions, especially when they took on sexual overtones which he expressed in his writing. Both Linda and Edna Webster read Brautigan's writing. Neither admitted to any criticism of Brautigan's poetry although Edna did object to his vernacular references to sexual intercourse, saying it would not be understand or appreciated by readers.
Brautigan's parents' probably did not help. They were confused, perhaps angered by his moody silence, his refusal to pursue a lifestyle other than bohemian, and a career other than writing. As Barbara said, they rode Brautigan hard, even attempted to get him psychiatric care.
This may have pushed Brautigan to action, or toward falling apart. If everyone thought he was crazy, maybe he should be.
"He decided he was crazy," Edna Webster said. "He went down to the police station. They said, 'You're not crazy.' So he threw a rock through the police station window." (Bob Keefer and Quail Dawning 2H). Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Keefer and Dawning.
In the end, Brautigan's actions can be seen as deliberate, an act of emotional distress, anger, frustration, hunger. He asked to be arrested and be placed in jail so that he could eat, and perhaps to prevent him from harming himself or others.
Friday, 16 December 1955
Judge Barber was known for being tough on young offenders, and Edna Webster worried what this might mean for Brautigan. Hoping to influence Brautigan's release, she contacted Lois and Harold Barton, both noted for their community social and mental health work, and asked them to follow up on Brautigan's case and help however they could. One form of help, she thought, would be for the Bartons to provide a temporary home for Brautigan. She thought, and the Bartons agreed, that providing Brautigan a home away from the tension of his own family, would be a good step toward his recuperation.
Either Edna Webster or Lois Barton contacted Judge Barber and reported that he felt Brautigan needed to be taught a lesson, and perhaps needed psychological help. Seeking a better understanding of the situation, Harold Barton visited Brautigan in jail after his court appearance, coming away with the impression that Brautigan had committed a crime, in a highly agitated emotional and mental state, seeking help from suicidal thoughts.
Peter Webster also visited Brautigan, who was embarrassed by the visit and asked Webster not to visit again (William Hjortsberg 83; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg). Perhaps Edna and Linda Webster visited as well. Brautigan recounted the visit from "my girlfriend" in the poem "there was a wire screen between us" noting his white jail uniform and the wire screen between them, concluding, "I could have just died" (Edna Webster Collection 98). See Collections > Edna Webster.
Saturday, 17 December 1955
Brautigan appeared in municipal court a second time, again in front of Judge Barber, who, not impressed with Brautigan's excessive vocabulary, and put off by his pretentious actions, thought he needed to be taught a lesson. Barber sentenced Brautigan to ten days in municipal jail, and fined him $25.00. Ten days, Barber thought, was sufficient time for Brautigan to think about his actions, and, insinuating that he felt a sanity hearing necessary, give family or friends time to arrange for whatever treatment they desired.
Friday, 23 December 1955
Brautigan was briefly examined by two court-appointed physicians in the Lane County Courthouse. Based on their recommendation, Brautigan was ordered committed to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem for observation and treatment of mental illness.
In his novel, I Watched the World Glide Effortlessly Bye, Brautigan described sitting in a room in the Lane County Courthouse. "There were some men in the room. The men told me that they were committing me to the State Insane Asylum. Then I was standing outside the room" (I Watched the World Glide Effortlessly Bye; See Collections > Edna Webster). From this we can conclude that his examination was cursory, and pro forma.
Saturday, 24 December 1955
Brautigan was committed to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, the same hospital used for filming Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. While in the hospital Brautigan received electric shock therapy treatments (Wright 59; Ianthe Brautigan 155-156, 162; Don Bishoff 1B) and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright, Ianthe, or Bishoff for more information.
Highlights: Left Eugene, Oregon . . . Visited Reno and Fallon, Nevada . . . More early poetry published . . . Settled in San Francisco, California . . . Poetry criticized by Robert Duncan . . . Unpublished manuscripts.
While at the Oregon State Hospital, Brautigan was given a total of twelve electric shock treatments and medication. He wrote letters to Linda and Edna Webster, asking both not to think him crazy. He wrote letters to himself, describing what he was thinking and feeling, mostly as a way to judge whether he was suffering memory loss from the shock therapy.
Mary Lou Folston (known as Lulu Mary or Mary Lou), Brautigan's mother, said that she and her husband, William Folston, Jr., visited Brautigan each week while he was in the hospital (Ianthe Brautigan 202; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe). Lawrence Wright portrayed a different scenario when he quoted Brautigan's half-sister, Barbara, saying, "I didn't know he was there until after they let him out. I know he had shock therapy. After that he seemed real quiet. The only thing he told me about it was that he learned to dance in there. But he would never open up to me again" (Wright 59). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright.
On one of her visits, Mary Lou brought Brautigan mail from Lilith Lorraine, editor of Flame. She had published "Somewhere in the World a Man is Screaming in Pain" in the autumn 1955 issue of her journal. This poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1955 > poem title. Lorraine asked for more poems. Brautigan sent her four poems for consideration.
Lorraine also forwarded a letter (dated 29 December 1955) from D. Vincent Smith who wanted to republish the poem "Somewhere in the World a Man is Screaming in Pain" in the first issue of his own literary magazine, Olivant. In response to Smith's request to see more work, Brautigan sent him a group of poems, titled Tiger in the Telephone Booth. After his parole from the hospital, Brautigan sent Smith a manuscript titled The God of the Martians but the novel was never published (see below).
Based on this opportunity, and thinking ahead, Brautigan wrote Evelyn Thorne, editor of the literary magazine Epos, in Lake Como, Florida, requesting a change to his author biography included with the poem "The Second Kingdom," to be published in the upcoming winter issue. The revised biography read: "Richard Brautigan, 21. I have been writing poetry since I was 17. Olivant will publish my first book of poems, Tiger in the Telephone Booth. Making paper flowers out of love and death is a disease, but how beautiful it is." The poem "The Second Kingdom" was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1956 > poem title.
Brautigan sent a manuscript titled Linda, a collection of fourteen poems with a dedication page reading "for Linda," to The Macmillan Company, New York, New York. The manuscript was rejected and returned in May of 1956.
Sunday, 19 February 1956
Brautigan was paroled from the Oregon State Hospital into the custody of William Folston, his step-father. Brautigan later told his daughter, Ianthe, "I realized I made a big fucking mistake. So I did my best to get out of there as fast as I could. I became a model patient. [I was there] three months" (Ianthe Brautigan 155). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Hoping to provide a less stressful home environment, Edna Webster asked Lois Barton and her husband, Harold, to provide Brautigan with room and board at their ranch on Fox Hollow Road/Harry Taylor Road, outside of Eugene, Oregon. Harold ran the rooming house at 467 West 17th in Eugene where Brautigan lived just prior to his commitment to the State Hospital. Brautigan stayed in a one-room cabin behind the Bartons' house. He ate meals with the family and worked at off jobs about the property.
While living with the Bartons, Brautigan compiled and/or wrote
manuscripts for novels, as well as poetry and short story collections
I Watched the World Glide Effortlessly Bye
The Horse That Had a Flat Tire
Seven Rooms Each as Big as God
Rock around the Clock (1956)
Would You Like to Saddle Up a Couple of Goldfish and Swim to Alaska? (1956)
There's Always Somebody Who Is Enchanted (1956)
Poems for Edna (spring 1956)
A Love Letter From State Insane Asylum (1956)
All were hand-written in spiral-bound composition notebooks. Brautigan gave all these manuscripts to Edna Webster prior to his departure from Eugene, Oregon, for San Francisco, California, in June 1956. Portions of these manuscripts were later collected and published in The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings. See Collections > Edna Webster.
Brautigan also wrote three experimental dramas, "Please Let Me Walk," "Everybody and the Rose," and "Linda," all of which he sent, under the title Experimental Dreams, to the University of Oregon's Speech and Dramatic Arts Department. All were rejected in May 1956 by Professor Horace W. Robinson who wrote to Brautigan saying his dramas were too brief and devoid of character development to be useful. All were later collected in The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings. See Collections > Edna Webster.
Despite these setbacks, there was good news. Brautigan's poem "The Second Kingdom" accepted in the fall of 1955, was published in Epos, vol. 8, no. 2, Winter 1956, p. 23. Although reprinted in Epos Anthology 1958, this poem was never collected in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1956 > poem title.
Wednesday, 29 February 1956
Lillith Lorraine, editor of Flame, a literary magazine based in Alpine, Texas, wrote Brautigan rejecting the four poems he had sent her earlier. She had published "Someplace in the World a Man is Screaming in Pain" in the Autumn 1955 issue of her journal, and wrote that she wanted to see more poems like this one with its "exquisite satire." See Poetry > Uncollected > 1956 > poem title.
Using Edna Webster's typewriter, at her house while Linda was away at school, Brautigan typed four manuscripts from his hand-written notebooks, apparently targeting a specific publisher for each manuscript. The first, Tiger in the Telephone Booth, was meant for Olivant House, a literary venture of D. Vincent Smith who had earlier expressed an interest in publishing a book of poetry authored by Brautigan. This project never materialized.
Why Unknown Poets Stay Unknown, dedicated to Edna, was the second manuscript Brautigan prepared. The manuscript was sent to Random House in New York, New York, but was rejected and returned in September 1956 with a letter from editor Albert Erskine. Part 1 of this manuscript, forty-three of the original fifty-three poems, was collected in The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings. See Collections > Edna Webster.
The third manuscript was titled The Smallest Book of Poetry in the Whole God-Damn World
and was sent to New Directions, also in New York. This collection was
also rejected and returned to Edna Webster's Eugene, Oregon, address.
The manuscript dedication read:
An American genius.
Dead at twenty-four.
A fourth manuscript was Little Children Should Not Wear Beards, a collection of poetry. This collection was intended for Scribner's, another New York publishing company, and was to be sent by Edna Webster, but she never did. The manuscript remains unpublished.
The manuscript Linda, a collection of fourteen poems with a dedication page reading "for Linda," sent by Brautigan in January to The Macmillan Company, New York, New York, was returned with a polite rejection letter by R. L. Walton, Assistant Editor-in-Chief.
Tuesday, 12 June 1956(?)
Allegedly, Brautigan left Eugene, Oregon, bound for San Francisco, California, on this day, his parents' wedding anniversary. Mary Lou and William F. Folston were married 12 June 1950. Brautigan took only two small cardboard boxes, one for clothes, the other for selected manuscripts and works in progress. All other writings he left with Edna Webster.
In leaving, Brautigan cut off all contact with his family. His mother, Mary Lou, said, "I guess he hated us. Or maybe he had a disappointed love affair. Whatever. Richard practically abandoned the family when he left here. I haven't the slightest idea why" (Lawrence Wright 59). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright
Brautigan offered no goodbyes to anyone in his family, except for his sister Barbara, whom he saw by accident on Willamette Street in downtown Eugene, Oregon, immediately before he left town. According to Barbara, she had not seen her brother since his release from the Oregon State Hospital. They used to be close, but were no longer so. Brautigan said, "Well, I'm leaving" but offered no information that he was bound for San Francisco. "He said, 'I just wanted to say goodbye' . . . and that's the last time I ever saw him" (Hjortsberg 94). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Beyond his desire to pursue a career as a writer, Brautigan's life of extreme poverty and parental abuse would be a factor for his leaving. As Keith Abbott notes in his memoir, Downstream from Trout Fishing in America, Brautigan, his sister, and mother, on more than one occasion, lived in welfare hotels or motor courts (Abbott 82, 101). See Obituaries-memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Abuse by both parents, beatings by his "stepfathers," and abandonment by his mother were cited by friends and family.
"My father told me that during the Depression he and his sister were boarded out to a family for awhile. She was beaten every morning for wetting the bed. One of his drunken stepfathers came to visit and wrestled with him, almost breaking my father's arm. Luckily, the people he was boarding with stepped in and stopped the stepfather. (Ianthe Brautigan 128). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Keith Abbott, in his memoir Downstream from Trout Fishing in America, quotes Brautigan saying one of his stepfathers "would just thrash him and thrash him" and once tried to break his arm. Brautigan remembered being "rented out" with his sister to do household chores and once watched a neighbor whip his sister (Abbott 101). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Abbott.
Abbott also said Brautigan claimed his mother loved young children but "ignored and feared them as they got older" (Abbott 101; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott). And there was his mother's drinking. "The only two concrete things he mentioned about her was that she drank a lot and smoked cigarettes" (Ianthe Brautigan 94; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe).
"He just left is all," Folston said. "Didn't say where he was going. He just disappeared, like people do." Still, she never wondered about Brautigan after he left home. "When you know your child is famous, you don't worry, do you?" (Jennifer Foote D8). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Foote.
Although he said little or nothing to his family, Brautigan had apparently shared his desire to leave with the Bartons, even talked about his plans to pursue his goal of becoming a writer in San Francisco, California. Lois Barton drove him to the downtown Eugene, Oregon, bus station, but rather than taking a bus to San Francisco, Brautigan rode with his friend Milo Stewart who was driving there to visit his sister. In Sacramento, California, Brautigan got out of the car and hitchhiked to Reno, Nevada (Hjorstberg 97). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
In Reno, Nevada, while reading a copy of Brushfire, the literary magazine from the University of Nevada, Brautigan learned that one contributor, Barney Mergen, lived in Reno. Brautigan decided to visit and introduce himself as a fellow poet. Mergen, who wrote about Brautigan's visit following his death, said Brautigan was on his way to San Francisco from Portland, Oregon. He and Brautigan spent a lot of time together talking about writing. Then, said Mergen, Brautigan sought work in Fallon, a town east of Reno (Mergen 20). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Mergen.
An account by Keith Abbott in his memoir of Brautigan, Downstream from Trout Fishing in America, overlays that of Mergen. Abbott said Brautigan visited Reno "one spring" in the late 1950s. Brautigan, said Abbott, was "totally broke in San Francisco and a friend had called and promised him a job in Reno as a laborer on a construction project." Brautigan borrowed money to travel to Reno, but once there had to wait three days for the job to start. With an advance against his wages, Brautigan rented a motel room (Abbott 89-90). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Wednesday, 25 July 1956
Brautigan's poems "Storm Over Fallon" and "The Breeze" were first published in The Fallon Standard. Neither poem was included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1956 > poem titles.
Brautigan established in San Francisco, living probably at different places in North Beach before his first registered address at 1648 Grant Avenue, apartment 38. "His life began in 1956 in San Francisco," said his daughter, Ianthe, in her memoir, You Can't Catch Death (Ianthe Brautigan 95). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
In his memoir, Ninety-Nine Things about Richard Brautigan, Michal McClure wrote, "San Francisco was a rich network of streams to "trout about" in. Richard must have loved it all as much as I did. Vibrancy of thought was in the air. Consciousness of California landscape and Oriental thought were in the air we breathed, and it was made dark and moist by the Pacific beating on the coast of Monterey. Steinbeck country was nearby, Henry Miller lived down on Partingdon Ridge, Robinson Jeffers was in his tower in Carmel" (Michael McClure 44). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > McClure.
Right in San Francisco were philosopher Alan Watts and poets Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Robert Duncan (who had a class in poetics at San Francisco State University), Jack Spicer, Joe Dunn, Brother Antoninus, Philip Lamantia, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Robert Creeley.
These poets and artists met and cross-pollinated each other's work and thinking at several cheap restaurants and bars, as well as galleries and book stores, around North Beach which served as extended living rooms and cultural centers in the mid-1950s. The more popular gathering spots included Mr. Otis', Vesuvio (255 Columbus Avenue; across Alder Alley, renamed Kerouac Alley 31 March 2007, from City Lights Books; the most popular North Beach bar; Brautigan maintained an upstairs office;), Deno & Carlo (728 Vallejo Street), The Old Spaghetti Factory (just off Grant at 4789 Green Street), Miss Smith's Tea Room (1353 Grant), Café Trieste (corner of Grant and Vallejo), and the Co-Existence Bagel Shop, a former Jewish deli, (1398 Grant Avenue; at the corner of Grant Avenue and Green Street).
The Co-Existence Bagel Shop, noted for its bargain breakfasts, was a social center for the North Beach Beats until it closed in 1960. Jack Kerouac mentions the place in his novel, Desolation Angels. Rod McKuen wrote a song entitled "Co-Existence Bagel Shop Blues." Poet Bob Kaufman immortalized the place in his poem "Bagel Shop Jazz" describing its customers as "shadow people . . . mulberry-eyed girls in black stockings, smelling vaguely of mint jelly . . . turtle neck angel guys . . . coffee-faced ivy leaguers . . . whose Harvard was a Fillmore District step." READ this poem.
The most popular gathering spot for poets and artists was The Place, 1546 Grant Avenue, opened by painter and abstract photographer Leo Krikorian in 1953 and operated by him until the bar closed in 1960. Knute Stiles joined Krikorian in 1954, running The Place every night; Krikorian ran it during the day. Artists like Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, Robert LaVigne, and others showed their work at The Place.
Brautigan read his poetry at the Monday night "Blabbermouth Night," an extemporaneous public speaking event where artists, poets, and others could make statements or entertain in hopes of winning the night's prize: a bottle of champagne. Each speaker mounted the loft above the room, the blabberbox, where a yellow soapbox served as the lectern.
Artist Kenn Davis recalled Brautigan reading his poetry during Blabbermouth Night. "He did this several times as I recall, as did Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Bob Kaufman, and many others. This is a recreation from many scribbled pencil thumbnail drawings I did at this time. This is before Richard was published, but possibly around the time he was working on The Galilee Hitch-Hiker. (Davis, Kenn. "Sketches of Richard Brautigan." Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life. Edited by John F. Barber. McFarland, 2007, p. 72)
Brautigan met poet Ron Loewinsohn on Grant Street, and handed him a notebook in which he had written the poem "A Correction." Loewinsohn enjoyed the poem and he and Brautigan became good friends, spending much of their time together.
Brautigan and Loewinsohn joined Jack Spicer's "magic circle," a group of writers discussing poetry each night at The Place. Brautigan and Spicer immediately connected and Spicer later helped Brautigan with the final editing of his novel, Trout Fishing in America and arranged for its first public readings after its publication.
According to Ron Loewinshon, "There was a circle of people led by Jack Spicer who were literary, college-educated, and gay. Spicer and that crowd were really very suspect to Richard and me, although Richard went to their meetings" (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 65). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso.
Poet and friend Michael McClure also commented on Brautigan's relationship with Spicer saying, "Richard was a disciple to some extent, or more aptly a pupil, of Jack Spicer. He must have met Jo Anne [sic] Kyger through Spicer, and maybe Joe Dunn that way too. (Dunn published Richard's first book in his White Rabbit Press series.)" (Michael McClure 36). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > McClure.
Prior to their first meeting, Loewinsohn had seen Brautigan at The Place and a party hosted by Robert Stock where Brautigan read a few poems in his living room, perhaps his first public reading in San Francisco, and said he "almost never spoke, and walked around with his hands in his pockets, like he was hiding from everybody" (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 64, 65). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso.
This impression of Brautigan as an outsider was echoed by Nicholas von Hoffman. "[H]e stood to one side like a nineteenth-century statue without a pedestal, an objet d'art neglected, put in the back of the barn like a rusty threshing machine" (Hoffman 129).
Other comments about Brautigan's shyness were less kind. Allen Ginsberg called Brautigan "Bunthorne" after the winsome poet in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta "Patience" (Lawrence Wright 34; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso). William Hjortsberg notes that Ginsberg called Brautigan "Frood," and thought him a "neurotic creep" (Hjortsberg 115; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg).
Although he knew many of them personally, including Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and his good friend Michael McClure, frequented The Place and the Co-Existence Bagel Shop, participated in their poetry readings, and was included in the historic photograph "The Last Gathering of the Beats" by Larry Keenan, taken in 1965 in front of City Lights Books owned and run by poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Brautigan always maintained that he was not a Beat, or a member of their movement.
The Beats did not like Brautigan's writing style, or appreciate his efforts to develop a new style of prose poetry, although they did appreciate his occasional use of shocking humor. Ferlinghetti later published some of Brautigan's poetry, and chapters from his novel Trout Fishing in America despite the fact that he never felt Brautigan developed fully as a writer.
"As an editor I was always waiting for Richard to grow up as a writer. It seems to me he was essentially a naif, and I don't think he cultivated that childishness, I think it came naturally" (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 65). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso.
Conger Beasley, Jr. agreed. "He was a close to being a genuine naif as contemporary American culture is likely to produce. He relied on his marvelous instincts to propel him through a story; that, plus his droll humor and off-beat characters, gave his novels a funky rhythm" (Conger Beasley 3). See References > Critiques > Beasely.
Monday, 27 August 1956
On the recommendation of D. Vincent Smith, Brautigan sent a 600-word, 20 chapter manuscript for a novel titled The God of the Martians, written apparently April-May, to Harry Hooton, a Sydney, Australia poet, for possible publication in Hooton's magazine 21st Century: The Magazine of a Creative Civilization. Like many other of Brautigan's submissions to other publishers, this novel was never published. See Novels > Unpublished Novel.
It was the potential for success that kept Brautigan going, the belief that he would one day become recognized as a great writer. The previous month, he received a letter from D. Vincent Smith saying that he planned to publish Brautigan's Tiger in the Telephone Booth soon and that he would keep Brautigan informed.
Wednesday, 26 September 1956
A collection of poems titled The Smallest Book of Poetry in the Whole God-Damn World, submitted earlier to New Directions in New York, New York, for publication, was rejected and returned to Edna Webster (per Brautigan's addressing of the return envelope). The manuscript dedication read,
An American genius.
Dead at twenty-four.
Feeling settled, and emboldened by his success reading at The Place, Brautigan wrote Edna Webster and requested that she send his manuscripts to his 1648 Grant Avenue address. She sent him only The Shortest Book of Poetry in the Whole God-Damn World, recently rejected by New Directions. She kept all the other manuscripts and writings Brautigan had given her before his departure from Eugene, Oregon, for San Francisco, California. Many of these writings were published in three different books after Brautigan's death.
Brautigan moved from his apartment at 1648 Grant Street to the Hotel Jessie, 179 Jessie Street, an alley off Third Street, south of Market Street. The $6.00-a-week rent was more in line with his low income as a struggling writer. Brautigan sold his Type A blood to the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank of the San Francisco Medical Society and delivered telegrams for Western Union on a bicycle throughout the financial district to earn rent money. At night, Brautigan wrote poetry which he mailed to magazines around the county.
Thursday, 6 December 1956
Encouraged by Jack Spicer, who credited his own success as a poet to being mentored by poet Robert Duncan, Brautigan sent several of his poems and a cover letter to Duncan on 29 November, seeking an opportunity to read his poetry at The Poetry Center.
Duncan responded in a letter today, criticizing Brautigan's poetry and urging him to attend Jack Spicer's Poetry as Magic Workshop to be offered in Spring 1957. "I suggest that before you think of reading you go into the open Forum of your contemporaries" (Duncan, Robert. "Letter to Richard Brautigan." 6 December 1956. Poetry Center files, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).
The Poetry as Magic Workshop was scheduled every Tuesday night the following spring, 7:00-10:00 PM, in the San Francisco Public Library. Participants were to explore the new school of magical poetry practiced by, among others, Robert Duncan. Brautigan did not seek admission to the workshop; he was mentored by Spicer every evening at The Place.
Highlights: Met San Francisco poets . . . White Rabbit Press established . . . Met and married Virginia Dionne Alder . . . Published poems in small magazines . . . Anthologized in Four New Poets.
Brautigan's poems "They Keep Coming Down the Dark Streets" and "15 Stories in One Poem" were first published in Danse Macabre, vol. 1, no. 1, 1957, pp. 18-19. Neither poem was ever included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > poem titles.
7 January 1957
Brautigan's poem "A Correction" published in the winter issue of The Caxton Poetry Review. Brautigan was paid $1.00. His poem "If the Wind Should Borrow Time" was published in the Spring issue of the same magazine. Neither poem was included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > poem title.
Brautigan met Virginia Dionne Alder (also called Ginny or Ginger) at a North Beach laundromat where Brautigan and Ron Loewinsohn were washing their clothes. Loewinsohn introduced Brautigan and Virginia, who invited them both to a party that night at her apartment on Filbert Street. They both attended and Brautigan and Virginia immediately became a couple.
Virginia had moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles where she attended the University of California Los Angeles. She worked as a typist at a financial district law firm, Weigel, Ripley, and Diamond. She lived in an apartment on Filbert Street, in North Beach, high up on Telegraph Hill, below Coit Tower, overlooking Fisherman's Wharf and San Francisco Bay. She shared the apartment with college roommate Lenore Yanoff, and Lester Rosenthal, her former college boyfriend.
Brautigan, financially distressed, had left the Hotel Jessie and was living rent-free in the apartment of a single mother in exchange for babysitting. Soon after they met, Brautigan moved into Virginia's apartment and Rosenthal moved out. Ginny supported them both with her job, and typed Brautigan's manuscripts while he continued his quest to become a successful writer (Abbott 44; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott and Hjortsberg 123; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg).
Caroling (Lind) Geary, a student in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota, moved to San Francisco in January, where she lived until April or May. Geary lived first in the YWCA before renting a tiny apartment in the bottom of a house on Filbert Street for $30.00 per month. Her upstairs neighbors were Brautigan, Virginia, and, for a short time, Lenore Yanoff.
Feedback from Caroling Lind Geary
"In January 1957, I got a severe Van Gogh complex and had to escape academia. My painting teacher was Cameron Booth. He was a student of Hans Hoffman and taught New York school abstract expressionism. He really was a closet romantic visionary under his neat business suit, lab coat and clipped moustache and non-representational art. He did a painting called "Crystals of Earth and Sky" where he tried to imagine the process of coal turning into diamonds. Imagine something happening underground over eons of time in a single painting? When I saw Booth's painting in an art show, I started to understand what he was talking about. It seemed like I could learn what I needed by living with the painting, so I bought it. He gave me 50% discount on the price. I mentioned this to set the context of the San Francisco scene. We focused there, freed by wealth of the industriousness of the immigrants and the natural resources of our country. We were longing to invent our culture. So, with my teacher's painting I took a bus to San Francisco to paint full time. The move was an early Beat version of the next decade's hippie drop out to Haight Street. After being robbed and working as a bus person in a restaurant, I realized I was not Van Gogh and missed the University Art Department. I took a bus back and was accepted back into the program that summer, with teaching assistantship and all. Everyone liked the work I had done in San Francisco and I got in touch with the scene, so it was great.
"I answered a newspaper ad for an apartment on Filbert Street. It was owned by a landlord woman in a huge mansion on some San Francisco hill. She first showed me the upstairs unit. It was old and dusty. The interior rounded off by layers of different colors of chipped paint. It was a railroad flat. Stepping off the side of the hill into it was like going into a big railroad car or ferry boat into the sky. There were no buildings to either side. Each room had windows that looked out into the brilliance of the reflected bay waters. It is close to Fisherman's Wharf. The place was big, empty and dark in the interior. I vividly remember a line of clear glass jars on narrow open shelves in the kitchen, each jar filled with things I'd never seen before, like oriental spices, little silver fishes, tiny octopi, and strange smelling herbs. I didn't know what these things were or where they came from or why they were there. Later I learned they came from nearby Chinatown, and I bought some.
"My 'apartment' was just a bunch of doors filled into the support posts below. What I used as a studio was probably just an old storage place, a tiny little square room with a door. Just whomped up by this old lady to get an extra rental unit. What I loved was that all the doors had the upper part as windows and the view of the bay and the light was great. My view was all three sides, except uphill to Coit Tower. At the top of the hill, below Coit Tower, was a small convenience store. Walking down the hill from the store I turned left into a small lane or alley to get to my apartment. I could also get to the Wharf by going downhill; can't remember the name of the major street down there. It was more difficult, or didn't connect to transportation as well, so I didn't go that way, only a few times. I didn't have a car. None of us did.
"When Brautigan moved in, shortly after I was settled, it was with two women: Ginger (childhood nickname for Virginia Dionne Alder) and Lenore Yanoff. Lenore moved out maybe in February and went back to LA [Los Angeles], where I got to know her later, when I moved there. Brautigan and Ginger were not married at the time. As I remember, it was not a triangle, not menage a trois. My impression was that Lenore and Ginger were friends previously, and Lenore was rather left out of Ginger's new partnership with Brautigan. It's probably quite a minor detail of the story of a life.
"Brautigan had a constant energy about him. I can't remember him sitting
down. I think he liked the empty Fillbert Street apartment for the
windows. He did look out a lot. Could 'lanking' be a verb, that is,
participle? I would then say Richard Brautigan was lanking around. As
in, he was being lanky. If I had been there for Halloween, Ginger would
have come as a pumpkin, a lantern smiling light. Richard would have come
as the farmer/scarecrow/ghost, a hover person that is always a couple
of inches up from earth. Gliding. The Grateful Dead Song plays in my
head, 'In the Attic of my mind, where all of my dreams are stored.' That
would be my song for Brautigan."
— Caroling Lind Geary. Email to John F. Barber, 28 January 2003 and 27 January 2005.
Brautigan introduced Caroling to Beat poets. She bought their books at City Lights Books and listened to Brautigan and others reading their poetry at The Place, just up the hill from the apartment. Such readings were the inspiration for Which Poet?, a painting of Brautigan and other poets at The Place by Geary.
The Return of the Rivers published. A single poem, printed as a broadside in black construction paper wrappers. Because of the wrappers, this is generally considered Brautigan's first published "book" of poetry. One hundred copies were printed by Leslie Woolf Hedley of Inferno Press as a favor to Brautigan, who, with Alder Alder and Ron Loewinsohn glued the broadsides into the folded black construction paper covers and affixed white labels in the center front of each over. Brautigan signed each label, just above the Inferno Press colophon. In the fall of 1957, Hedley published Four New Poets which included four poems by Brautigan.
Saturday, 8 June 1957
Brautigan married Virginia (Ginny) Dionne Alder in Reno, Nevada. The ceremony was performed by Methodist minister Reverend Stephen C. Thomas, a Methodist minister. Witnesses were Ace W. Williams, a chapel visitor and Agnes Thomas, the Reverend's wife. Neither Brautigan or Alder had been married previously. Both were twenty two years of age. Both gave San Francisco as their place of residence.
Following their return from Reno, Brautigan and Virginia Alder moved into an apartment at 1565 Washington Street (Hjortsberg 125). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan's poem "A Young Poet" published in the summer 1957 issue of Epos. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > Young.
Brautigan's poem "The Final Ride" was first published in the summer-autumn 1957 issue of Mainstream. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > Ride.
Brautigan and Virginia Alder traveled to the Big Sur area of California, south of Gorda, to visit with Price Dunn who was staying on property owned by Pat Boyd, a painter. Brautigan and Dunn met in the spring at a party at Virginia's apartment and became good friends. The events of the month-long visit became the basis for Brautigan's novel A Confederate General from Big Sur. Price Dunn was fictionalized as the novel's protagonist.
Brautigan participated in the 11th Annual Arts Festival in North Beach held in Fugazi Hall on Green Street. He participated in the daytime readings "by young poets" with Ron Loewinsohn and Ebbe Borregaard (Ellingham and Killian 109-110). See References > Literary > Ellingham.
Brautigan's poems "The Daring Little Guy on the Burma Shave Sign" and "The World Will Never End" were first published in the September-October 1957 issue of Existaria, A Journal of Existant Hysterial. These poems were not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > Burma and World.
Four poems by Brautigan: "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth's Beer Bottles," "The Mortuary Bush," "Twelve Roman Soldiers and an Oatmeal Cookie," and "Gifts" were first published in Four New Poets. Edited by Leslie Woolf Hedley. San Francisco: Inferno Press, 1957, pp. 3-9. This was Brautigan's first book publication. These poems were not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > specific poem titles.
Four New Poets was an anthology featuring poetry by four poets Hedley described as "representing an articulate segment of a sometime-called 'silent generation'." Of Brautigan, the introduction said, "Richard Brautigan is a young poet who was born January 30, 1935 in Tacoma, Washington. He now lives in San Francisco where he is working on a book of poems, The Horse That Had A Flat Tire."
The other three poets included were: Martin Hoberman, Carl Larsen, and James M. Singer. At the time of publication, none of the poets was over the age of 25. Larsen edited Existaria, a Journal of Existant Hysteria, in which, in summer 1957, Brautigan published two poems: "The Daring Little Guy on the Burma Shave Sign" and "The World Will Never End." These poems were not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1957 > poem titles.
Highlights: Involved with Dharma Committee . . . Published poems in small magazines . . . The Galilee Hitch-Hiker published.
Brautigan and Virginia lived at 1470 Washington Street (Polk County Directory)
Brautigan and Virginia Alder returned to Big Sur for another visit with friend Price Dunn. During the visit, Brautigan wrote the poem The Castle of the Cormorants.
Brautigan's poem "Kingdom Come" was first published in the spring 1958 issue of Epos. This poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1958 > poem title.
Brautigan's poem "Twelve Roman Soldiers and an Oatmeal Cookie," originally published in Four New Poets, reprinted in Hearse. This poem was not collected in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1958 > poem title.
Brautigan's poem "The Mortuary Bush," originally published in Four New Poets, reprinted in Hearse. This poem was not collected in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1958 > poem title.
The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, a single poem in nine parts, published. A theme was the changing presence of Charles Baudelaire in each part. Brautigan completed the poem in February.
Brautigan and Virginia Alder gave up their Washington Street apartment and hitchhiked from San Francisco, California, to Nogales, Arizona, where they crossed the international border into Mexico. They traveled by bus to Mexico City, stopping in Mazatlán and Tepic. After a week in Mexico City, Brautigan and Virginia traveled, again by bus, to Oaxaca, where they stayed for three months. Their return trip took them back to Mexico City, from there to Ciudad Juárez where they crossed the border into El Paso, Texas. From there they hitchhiked to Las Cruces, New Mexico, Phoenix, Arizona, Los Angeles, California, and finally, to San Francisco.
Brautigan and Alder rented an apartment at 461 Mississippi Street, on Potrero Hill, which they shared with artist friend Kenn Davis.
Wednesday, 8 October 1958
Brautigan joined the Dharma Committee, an ad hoc group of writers and poets associated with the weekly Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan poetry readings and organized by Joanne Kyger and George Stanley. They sometimes met at the Bread and Wine Mission, 510 Greenwich Street, on the corner of Grant Avenue and Greenwich Street, in San Francisco's North Beach area, for the free spaghetti dinners and poetry readings. The Mission was led by a young minister, Pierre Delattre, and was a center for discussion of and participation in the evolving literary scene during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mission-hosted Sunday dinners brought together poets and artists. The literary magazine Beatitude was published here on an old mimeograph machine. Brautigan read his poetry at these meetings, along with Joanne Kyger, Gary Snyder, and Ebbe Borregaard (Ellingham and Killian 144-145). See References > Literary > Ellingham.
Brautigan found part-time employment at Pacific Chemical Laboratories, 350 Clay Street, San Francisco, where he worked for several years preparing doses of powdered barium (Hjorstberg 150). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Highlights: Published poems in small magazines . . . Lay The Marble Tea published.
Three photographs, all taken by Virginia Dionne Alder, Brautigan's first wife, show Brautigan in San Francisco, in 1959. Brautigan and Virginia lived at 461 Mississippi Street (Polk County Directory and Bill Morgan. The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary Tour. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2003). These photographs were possibly taken at that address.
Brautigan's poem "Psalm" was first published in the spring 1959 issue of San Francisco Review. This poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1959 > Psalm.
Saturday, 9 May 1959
Brautigan's poem "The Whorehouse at the Top of Mount Rainier" published in the May 1959 issue of Beatitude. This poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1959 > Whorehouse.
Saturday, 30 May 1959
Brautigan's poems "The American Submarine," "A Postcard from the Bridge," "That Girl," and "The Sink" were first published in the May 1959 issue of Beatitude. All but "The Sink" were collected in The Octopus Frontier, published in 1960. For information about "The Sink," see Poetry > Uncollected >1959 > Sink.
Lay The Marble Tea, a collection of 24 poems, published. These poems, as did most of Brautigan's subsequent work, blurred the boundaries between poetry and prose.
Brautigan and Virginia Alder moved to a new apartment at 575 Pennsylvania Street, on Potrero Hill, San Francisco. Virginia was pregnant and the couple wanted more privacy for their family. Perhaps thinking of a family, Brautigan and Alder acquired two black cats, Jake and Boaz. Jake figured in Brautigan's poem The Quail.
Brautigan's poem "Swandragons" was first published in the September 1959 issue of Beatitude. The poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1959 > Swandragons.
Brautigan's poems The Rape of Ophelia, A Postcard from Chinatown, The Nature Poem, Horse Race, and The Last Music is Not Heard were first published in in the September 1959 issue of Foot. All were collected in The Octopus Frontier, published in 1960.
Highlights: Daughter Ianthe born . . . The Octopus Frontier published.
Brautigan and Virgina lived at 575 Pennsylvania Avenue (Polk County Directory)
The Octopus Frontier, a collection of twenty two poems, published.
Friday, 25 March 1960
Daughter Ianthe Elizabeth born at University of Californina Hospital. Artist friend Kenn Davis drove Brautigan to University of California Hospital where she was born. Ianthe's Birth Certificate notes 575 Pennsylvania, San Francisco, California, as the family address.
Saturday, 30 July 1960
Brautigan gave a poetry reading as part of An Afternoon Dance Demonstration and an Evening of Dances presented by the Anna Halprin Dancers' Workshop in Marin County. The event also included an art exhibit by Manuel Neri and Joan Brown, dancing by Anna Halprin, A. A. Leath, John Graham, and others, new musical works by Stanley Shaff and Douglas McEachern, and lighting by Pat Hickey. The artistic director was Jo Landor (The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant Garde. Edited by David W. Bernstein. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, p. 268).
The dance by Halprin, Leath, and Graham was entitled "The Flowerburger" and was drawn from the same titled section of Brautigan's The Galilee Hitch-Hiker. More a performance piece than strictly dance, the dancers/performers moved about the stage while speaking words from Brautigan's poem, intermixing them, juxtaposing lines, creating new poetic prose. The group performed the dance around San Francisco, and around the country, for the next several years.
Monday, 8 August 1960
Brautigan gave a reading from The Octopus Frontier at The Coffee Gallery (formerly Miss Smith's Tea Room which closed in 1958), 1353 Grant Avenue, in San Francisco's North Beach, on the same bill with Christopher Maclaine, a poet and filmmaker from Oklahoma (his four films: The End, 1953; The Man Who Invented Gold, 1957; Beat, 1958; and Scotch Hop, 1959).
The movie The Beach (1995, 56'40") recreates the atmosphere of San Francisco's North Beach district during the 1950s and early 1960s when The Coffee Gallery was one of the few venues where the rich mix of poetry, jazz, and art could be seen and heard. California Beat Era—The Beach website.
Wednesday, 21 December 1960
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading with Andrew Hoyem, Allen Dienstag, and longshoreman poet William Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed) at the Coffee Gallery (formerly Miss Smith's Tea Room which closed in 1958), 1353 Grant Avenue, in San Francisco's North Beach. Fritsch was the husband of poet Lenore Kandel whose The Love Book was tried on obscenity charges in 1967. The handbill promoting the event was printed on 8.5" x 11" paper.
Highlights: Begins writing Trout Fishing in America.
Brautigan's poem, "The Rain," published in Hearse: A Vehicle Used to Convey the Dead. This poem was not included in any of Brautigan's poetry collections. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1961 > poem title.
This was Brautigan's last appearance in Hearse, and his last publication in similar small literary magazines for years. Brautigan, disenchanted with earning a living as a poet, was, based on the success of Lay the Marble Tea and The Octopus Frontier, his self-publishing venture as Carp Press, more interested to pursue writing short stories and novels.
Brautigan visited the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank of the San Francisco Medical Society where, for the final time, he sold a pint of his Type A blood to raise extra cash. He took his daughter, Ianthe, and wrote a poem "The Belle of the Blood Bank," which remains unpublished. See Poetry > Unpublished > poem title.
Friday, 17 March 1961
A broadside issued by Borregaard's Museum in San Francisco listed Brautigan, [Burgess] Jess Collins, Paul Alexander, Harry Jacobus, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Helen Adam, and other poets and painters scheduled to appear there. The Borregaard Museum, two floors of a Victorian house at 1713 Buchanan Street converted into a gallery by Ebbe Borregaard, billed on the broadside as "the largest private galley in San Francisco," was a landmark of the Sixties avant-garde.
The 8:30 PM free reading was arranged by Jack Spicer. Brautigan read selections from the evolving manuscript for Trout Fishing in Amercia focusing on his boyhood in Eugene, Oregon, and a forgotten poem entitled "Alas, In Carrion Umpire" (Hjortsberg 173). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
early June-August 1961
Brautigan, wife Virginia, and daughter Ianthe moved out of their apartment at 575 Pennsylvania, turning it, and their black cat, Jake, over to now former roommate Kenn Davis.
The family camped, during Summer 1961, at Silver Lake, Stanley Basin, Little Redfish Lake, and Lake Josephus, all in Idaho. Brautigan continued writing Trout Fishing in America.
Back in San Francisco the Brautigan's rented an apartment at 488 Union Street, between Montgomery and Kearny Streets, above Yone's Bead Shop, next door to a laundromat, and two blocks from Washington Square Park. Brautigan returned to part-time work at Pacific Chemical Laboratories, 350 Clay Street, San Francisco, preparing doses of powdered barium (Hjortsberg 180). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Highlights: Separates from wife, Virginia.
Brautigan finished writing the manuscript for Trout Fishing in America.
Monday, 12 March 1962
Brautigan started a new novel, entitled The Island Cafe. Subtitled Part of a Short History of Bad Movies in California, the manuscript focused on what Brautigan eat for lunch each day at the Star and US Cafe, minute details he noticed there, and the film titles and show times at the Times Theater. After about three weeks, Brautigan abandoned the project, filing the manuscript in an envelope on the back of which he wrote "Never finished Novel."
Monday, 24 December 1962
Shortly after midnight, Christmas Eve, Brautigan and his wife, Virginia (Ginny) Dionne Alder, separated after Virginia revealed she was having an affair and had fallen in love with Anthony (Tony) Frederic Aste, Brautigan's friend. Brautigan and Virginia, remained separated for several years and were divorced 17 February 1970 in San Francisco, California. See Biography > Family > Marriages.
Lewis Ellingham and Kevin Killian note, "Virginia—Ginny—Richard's girlfriend," engaged in an affair with Aste, newly arrived from Salt Lake City, Utah, starting in the spring of 1962. They eloped and married (Ellingham and Killian 223). See References > Literary > Ellingham.
Ron Loewinsohn (poet and friend of Brautigan) said the friction began soon after Ianthe was born, when Virginia "was stuck at home with the kid and he'd [Brautigan] be out prowling with his buddies." As for the affair between Alder and Aste, Loewinsohn said Brautigan was in the habit of bringing people to the apartment for dinner and parties. "One of these guys [Tony Aste] eventually got it on with Ginny." Aste and Alder, and daughter Ianthe, left San Francisco for Salt Lake City. Brautigan was devastated and started drinking and taking pills (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 65). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso.
Keith Abbott was more direct:
"Tired of being left with the baby, Virginia had an affair with one of Brautigan's friends [Aste] and moved with him to Salt Lake City. This devastated Richard" (Abbott 45). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Early in 1963, Virginia, Aste, and Ianthe drove from San Francisco, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah. They returned to California in early October 1963 and rented an apartment on Bay Street, near Fisherman's Wharf. Later, the new family moved to Sonoma County's Valley of the Moon. Virginia and Tony eventually had three children: Ellen, Mara, and Jesse (born 1970-1971?). After separating from Aste, Alder moved to Hawaii, late in 1975, and pursued a career as a teacher and political activist on The Big Island.
Brautigan's reaction to Virginia's revelation of her affair with Aste was immediate. He packed some clothes, his notebooks, and the evolving manuscript for A Confederate General from Big Sur and telephoned Ron Loewinshon, who agreed to provide temporary housing at his apartment at 1056 Fourteenth Street where he lived with his wife Joan Gatten. Loewinshon drove to Brautigan's apartment to pick up his friend. Brautigan slept on the couch, waking later in the morning.
Brautigan started a journal in a new spiral bound notebook entitled "The 20th Century Marriage in Flight" in which he recounted the events of the early morning, calling them "A Hell-of-Time." Brautigan named the characters in the recounting by the first letter of their first name. Ron Loewinshon was "R" and Virginia (Ginny) was "G." Later, Brautigan erased each reference to "G," replacing it with "Y."
Tuesday, 25 December 1962
Brautigan returned to his Union Street apartment to spend Christmas Day with his family, and to, as he wrote in his journal, "play at the man of the house for a little while longer." Then, "I go get drunk."
Following his separation from Virginia, Brautigan lived with Ron Loewinsohn and his wife, Joan, for about three months. While there, Brautigan used the back porch as a writing studio, working on the manuscript for A Confederate General from Big Sur, keeping each chapter in a separate envelope.
According to Bill Morgan, Virginia's affair with Aste brought Brautigan and Jack Spicer together. Spicer and Brautigan spent a great deal of time together at Cho Cho Tempura Bar, 1020 Kearny, owned by Jimmy Sakata. Spicer had a crush on Aste and this odd love triangle was the subject of his poem "The Holy Grail" (Morgan. The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary Tour. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2003).
Years later, in 1984, Brautigan borrowed a Smith & Wesson .44 magnum handgun from Sakata and used it to commit suicide in his Bolinas, California, home.
Highlights: Publishes first and only issue of Change.
Brautigan and Ron Loewinsohn decided to publish a literary magazine. Brautigan suggested the name, Change.
Wednesday, 1 May 1963
Brautigan and Loewinsohn published the first issue of their literary magazine Change (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 65). Only one issue was ever published and it consisted of mimeogaphed sheets (8.5" x 11") with a photograph taken by Joan Gatten, Loewinshon's wife, of Loewinsohn and Brautigan on the front cover, dressed in black, looking like serious poets, standing in front of a billboard advertising "the fastest car on Earth." Featured first publication of Brautigan's short story "Coffee." See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso.
Brautigan moved out of Ron Loewinsohn's apartment and into one of his own at 1482 Washington Street. From here, faced with lack of income, Brautigan moved four times before the end of the year seeking less expensive housing. Brautigan's only income was from his part-time job at Pacific Chemical measuring out barium swallows.
Brautigan met Anna Savoca, an Italian woman from Brooklyn, and a student at San Francisco State University. Anna made no secret of her love for "Walter," then in Europe, but still Brautigan was infatuated. He courted Anna with poetry. Eight unpublished poems survive. The earliest was dated 5 June, entitled "Another Poem for Anna," suggests at least one earlier draft. Another poem written for Anna describes weighing out the ingredients for barium swallows at Pacific Chemical where Brautigan worked part-time.
Basically, Savoca amused herself with Brautigan. In early October she broke off the relationship. In response, Brautigan cut his wrists superficially, smeared his blood on the walls of her apartment, and waited for her return. She ended her relationship with Brautigan and moved to Virginia City, Nevada, to live with Clayton Lewis for a year before marrying Walter (Hjortsberg 198-199, 201-202). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Feedback from Anna Savoca Golfieri
"I first met Richard in June 1963. I was maybe 24. I was an art student, very middle class, not at all a hippie. We met at a coffee shop, just down from City Lights Books. Richard was drunk, but we had a conversation about Mexico. He was interested to ask me questions once he learned that I had visited Mexico. I drew with my finger a map of Mexico on his knee.
"Richard called me a couple of days later. He said, "I don't remember what you look like, but I remember talking about Mexico with you. I want to ask you out and talk with you more." He had not yet published Trout Fishing in America, and was not famous. He was charming, however. Despite the fact that I was involved with Walter, who was then living in Europe, and told Richard so, he insisted on dating me. We met for coffee, took walks together, and sometimes went to dinner. I once took him to a Basque family-style restaurant where he stood out like a sore thumb. He enjoyed watching people at restaurants but seemed so uncomfortable there. I never took him to that restaurant again.
"He would read me the poems he was writing at the time. I was a visual artists, so all I could tell him was whether or not I like what the words said. He seemed fine with that, like he just wanted to read his work to someone. He wrote a few poems for me, but never gave me copies of them.
"His daughter, Ianthe, who was about five, was very protective of her father. Once, the three of us were riding a bus somewhere and I sat across the aisle from Richard. Ianthe kept looking at me like she did not like me or want me near her father. Once the three of us went on a camping trip in Yosemite Park. That was fun.
"Richard's apartment was dark and uncomfortable. His window looked out on the wall of the next-door building, only a few inches away. He took me there once and I told him I would never visit again. My apartment was bright and sunny and I enjoyed it very much. Richard had a key and he would come over and stay. I went away for a weekend once but agreed to meet Richard at Cafe Trieste Sunday evening, after I returned to San Francisco. He was never late and when he did not arrive punctually at the cafe I began to worry. Ron Loewinshon was there and I asked him to come with me to my apartment. There was a part of Richard that was always depressed and he seemed to like to encourage that. I had a funny feeling that something was wrong.
"Once inside my apartment my fear was realized when I saw drops of blood on the floor and walls. They led to the living room, which had big windows and was very sunny. I told Ron, 'I'm not going in there. You have to go and see what's going on.' He called me from the living room: 'It's okay.' Richard was in there. He was very drunk and had lightly slit his wrists, not enough to kill himself, but enough to leave blood everywhere.
Ron and I took him to San Francisco General Hospital. A couple of days
after that I broke up with Richard. I had never known anyone who was an
alcoholic and did not want to deal with anyone who was. I broke off with
Richard. I said I wanted my apartment key back and that I could not see
him again. He apologized and was nice enough, but two weeks later he
was living with another girl."
— Anna Savoca Golfieri. Telephone interview with John F. Barber, 15 September 2013.
Tuesday, 16 July 1963
Brautigan moved to apartment 3 at 1565 Washington Street.
Sunday, 1 September 1963
Brautigan moved to an apartment at 1327 Leavenworth Street. Here, he finished writing A Confederate General from Big Sur. Brautigan gave Donald Merriam Allen a copy of the manuscript, who sent it to Richard Seaver at Grove Press who quickly asked for a two month option.
Friday, 11 October 1963
Brautigan moved to room 3 in the Mitchel Art Hotel, 444 Columbus Avenue. A week later, lacking money, he could not pay the rent and his room was locked, with his books, papers, and two manuscripts inside. Brautigan stayed with Andy Cole in his apartment.
Early in October, Brautigan's first wife, Virginia (Ginny) Dionne Alder and their daughter, Ianthe, returned to San Francisco from Salt Lake City, Utah, where they had been living with Anthony (Tony) Frederic Aste, Brautigan's friend. Alder and Brautigan separated 24 December 1962, when he learned of Virginia's affair with Aste. See Biography > Family.
Brautigan wrote about the changes he saw in Ianthe in a series of unpublished stories. In one, To Love a Child in California the Way Love Should Be, he writes about leaving her after a short visit.
The October-November issue of Evergreen Review featured four chapters from Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America: "The Hunchback Trout", "Room 208, Hotel Trout Fishing in America", "The Surgeon", and "The Cleveland Wrecking Yard".
Sunday, 1 December 1963
Brautigan moved to apartment C at 483 Frisco Street, which he sublet from friends away in Mexico. In addition to monthly rent, Brautigan cared for the owner's birds. The large foliage-filled aviary in the back of the apartment was the backdrop for a photograph by Erik Weber used on the back cover of Brautigan's A Confederate General from Big Sur.
Brautigan and Weber met 28 September 1963 at a birthday party for Weber's wife, Lois. Learning that Weber was a photographer, Brautigan mentioned the prospective publication of A Confederate General from Big Sur and said he needed publicity and dust jacket photographs. Weber photographed Brautigan repeatedly, for both book publicity and story illustrations, until 1978 when, according to Weber, Brautigan ended their friendship.
Richard Seaver contacted Brautigan to say Grove Press, and specifically Barnet Lee "Barney" Rosset, Jr., had decided to publish A Confederate General from Big Sur. He offered Brautigan a $1,000 dollar advance against royalty payments. Additionally, Seaver offered a $1,000 option for Trout Fishing in America with a $1,000 advance payable within one month of publication of A Confederate General from Big Sur. Seaver also offered an option on Brautigan's third novel (unnamed, but Brautigan was working on a manuscript he called Contemporary Life in California; abandoned in April 1964, see below) with terms to be determined on delivery of the manuscript.
Highlights: A Confederate General from Big Sur published . . . Writes a fan letter to Ringo Starr, drummer of the music group The Beatles.
The Beatles became the most popular music group in the world. Joanne Kyger tells this story. "The Beatles are in the air. Richard Brautigan and I sit at Vesuvio and memorize their names and pictures—that's John, and that's Paul. We write a letter with Jack Spicer to Ringo Starr" (Kyger 196). See References Literary > Kyger.
After completing only twenty-nine pages, just nine short chapters, Brautigan abandoned his work in progress Contemporary Life in California.
Brautigan's story The Post Offices of Eastern Oregon was first published in the spring 1964 issue of Kulchur.
Brautigan quit his part-time job at Pacific Chemical and relocated to Bolinas, California, a small town across the bay and northwest of San Francisco, home to a significant colony of artists and writers. He lived in rent-free in an unfinished house on Dogwood Street. Brautigan worked part-time for friend Bill Brown who owned a landscaping business. He worked on his novels and wrote letters to editors around the country seeking publishing opportunities for his work.
Brautigan's poem September California was first published in the May 1964 issue of Sum.
Wednesday, 13 May 1964
According to the dedication included with the publication of the novel in 1968, Brautigan began writing In Watermelon Sugar in a house in Bolinas, California on this day. The house, under construction, unfinished, was located on Dogwood Street (see above).
Brautigan purchased a home in Bolinas in 1970. Several times from 1966-1968, before he bought his own house, Brautigan visited and stayed with writer and friend Bill Brown and his family according to Brown's son, Tony.
"Long before he moved to Bolinas, he would visit us at our home on the Mesa and if memory serves after all this time, he lived in our house for an extended period at least once. This would have been 1966-1968.
"I was in high school at that time and our home was in Bolinas, California. Bill Brown [the writer, and friend to Brautigan] was my father and my sister Maggie is married to Jim Koller.
"One my recollections/impressions of Richard is that while he wrote in what some of his critics called a random association loose sort of manner, he was very much a perfectionist when working on any task, including washing the dishes. Every fork tine was cleaned to perfection.
"One of the strongest memories I have is of a dark and stormy night. He and I were watching Gunsmoke in a smallish room that was somewhat overheated. Miss Kitty and Festus were struggling on foot across the desert, the buzzards circling above. Camera shots of the sun baking down and the shimmering sands. Time went on for awhile this way.
"Finally Richard yelled, 'I can't take it anymore!!!' threw open the window and stuck his head outside.
"When he closed the window and turned around, he was soaked from the rain, his moustache and hair drooping straight down from the soaking, glasses fogged. He got a huge smile on his face and said, 'That was a mistake.' We both started laughing.
"He read at a party I threw for a bunch of my friends, which was a very kind thing to do for us.
"I took a film class in my senior year of high school and was part of a small crew. We tried to make a short movie and Richard was in it at his home in San Francisco. I wish I knew what happened to that film.
"I think out of all the writers and poets I have met over the years,
Richard was and remains my favorite person out of that group. Possibly
because we would do things like stay up late, sitting in the kitchen and
inventing things that might be found living in the chest freezer."
— Tony Brown, email to John F. Barber, 20 October 2005.
Friday, 12 June 1964
Don Carpenter rented the Old Longshoreman's Hall, 400 North Point, near Fisherman's Wharf, for $75.00 and arranged a reading billed as "Freeway" for poets Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Lew Welch. His intent was to produce a successful, professional poetry reading, and Carpenter took care of all expenses and details. Reportedly, eight hundred people attended the event, the largest crowd ever for a poetry event in San Francisco. Perhaps one of them was Brautigan, who would have come from Bolinas. Carpenter wrote an essay about the Old Longshoreman's Hall poetry reading. READ this essay.
Carpenter often said he considered Brautigan his best friend. Carpenter documents their first meeting in the early 1960s in his poignant memoir "My Brautigan: A Portrait from Memory." See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Carpenter.
Carpenter wrote a review of Brautigan's novel, Trout Fishing in America, "A Book for Losers" (See Trout Fishing in America > Reviews > Carpenter) and another for The Tokyo-Montana Express, "Brautigan Writing at His Peak" (See Tokyo-Montana Express > Reviews > Carpenter.
Brautigan met Janice Meissner.
Brautigan moved back to San Francisco, taking up residence at 123 Beaver Street, where he shared a house with poets Philip Whalen and Lew Welch. Brautigan had the front room of the house and enjoyed its marble fireplace and large, Victorian windows. Brautigan enjoyed living with other poets and captured the mood in an unfinished, unpublished fiction entitled "Moose, an American Pastoral." 123 Beaver Street became 321 Moose Street. Philip Whalen became "Charles." Lew Welch became "Sam." Brautigan mentioned his own work in this fiction, saying the novel (In Watermelon Sugar) was very important to him.
Sunday, 19 July 1964
Brautigan finished the first draft of In Watermelon Sugar, typing the dedication page.
Richard Seaver, from Grove Press, sent Brautigan an advance copy of A Confederate General from Big Sur, along with a note that Grove had decided to delay release of the novel until January 1965 so that the book would not be lost in the Christmas season.
Brautigan left 123 Beaver Street, and moved in with Janice Meissner at her apartment (number 4) at 533 Divisadero Street.
During the national elections, Brautigan voted for Lyndon Johnson, thinking he would end the war in Vietnam. Instead, Johnson escalated the war. Brautigan felt betrayed and never voted again, refusing to take a political stance for the rest of his life.
Monday, 30 November 1964
Brautigan began capturing ideas for what he hoped would be a new novel with a working title of "The American Experience by Richard Brautigan." The opening chapter began, "The American experience is an operation illegal in this country: abortion. This is our story. There are thousands like us in America [. . .] in every state, in every city." This was the beginning of what became The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966.
Brautigan composed and sent a Christmas card to his friends. At the top of the card he wrote a poem,
"All the flowers
that Christmas bring
grow again . . .
grow again . . .
in the houses
where we live."
Below the poem Brautigan drew a house with smoke curving out of the chimney. Inside the house, he wrote "Merry Christmas." Above the chimney smoke he wrote the date, 1964. At the bottom of the page, he wrote his name, and that of Janice Meissner.
Highlights: A Confederate General from Big Sur released . . . Continues work on Trout Fishing in America.
Friday, 22 January 1965
Grove Press sponsored a publication party and reading to celebrate the release of A Confederate General from Big Sur. The 8:30 PM reading was held at the California Club, 1750 Clay Street, San Francisco. A reception followed, 10:00 PM-midnight, at the Tape Music Center, 321 Divisadero Street. The 4" x 9" invitations were printed on textured, deckle-edge stock and included small illustrations.
Sales for A Confederate General from Big Sur were disappointing and Grove Press held off publishing Trout Fishing in America. They rejected Brautigan's two remaining contracted novels, In Watermelon Sugar and The Abortion as Brautigan presented them and allowed their contract for Trout Fishing in America to expire in July 1966. Grove Press did, however, keep A Confederate General from Big Sur alive in small editions, which Brautigan resented.
With no publishing contract, Brautigan once again faced poverty. He worked odd jobs, borrowed money from friends, and sold copies of Lay the Marble Tea and The Octopus Frontier on consignment at City Lights Books. With no other economic skills, and no contact with society other than the San Franciso writing community, Brautigan focused on succeeding as a writer.
San Francisco's psychedelic scene was just beginning and the increased media attention focused on LSD, the hippies and happenings in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood during the Summer of Love (summer 1967) helped him realize this dream.
Brautigan noted as living at 544 Divisadero Street (Polk County Directory)
Brautigan lived at 2830 California Street, just off Divisadero (Polk County Directory), with Janice Meissner.
Brian Nation lived four blocks from Brautigan and Meissner on Californina Street. He spent time with each and made a photograph of Meissner, which he describes in an email message
"In Detroit John Sinclair introduced me to Trout Fishing in America.
Later that year I was in San Francisco. Dan McLeod introduced me to
Joanne Kyger whom I later visited on occasion. I believe she was still
married to—although separated from—Gary Snyder. At Joanne's apartment at
2921 Pine Street I met Ken Botto whose film I'd seen just days earlier.
Botto shared an apartment at 2450 California Street with Jim O'Neill.
Jim lived mostly with his girlfriend, so I moved in to his room. At
Joanne's another time I met Richard Brautigan. The Presidio Branch of
the San Francisco Public Library was just a few blocks away at 3150
Sacramento Street. I visited the library regularly for reading material
and also because the librarian was yet another in a series of very
beautiful women I secretly pined for. On one visit I was checking out Confederate General from Big Sur.
She mentioned that she loved Brautigan's writing. Suddenly there was
Brautigan. I introduced them. Another magical confluence of romance,
ideas, and events. Brautigan invited me back to his place, also in the
neighborhood, four blocks from Botto's at 2830 California Street. There I
met his girlfriend whose name I can't recall but which might have been
Janice. I fell in love with her in an instant. I was 21, utterly single,
and falling in love all over the damn place. Janice, Richard, and I
became friends. Now and then I'd go by their place and we'd play
Monopoly. Monopoly became a significant, recurring game during that
particular time in San Francisco. And later, of course, Brautigan became
a significant and very popular author for a couple of decades. Janice
visited me once in a while, with or without Richard. One day I told her
she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in my life and asked to
photograph her. We crossed the street to an empty lot where she stood
before a wall and I ran off about half a dozen shots. Later I discovered
the film had stuck in the camera so that every photograph, plus others I
took later, were all exposed on a single frame. I discovered this
months later, back in Vancouver [British Columbia, Canada] when I
managed to find a darkroom and it was too late to take more pictures of
Janice. The negative was almost solid black in that spot but, determined
to salvage even the ghostliest image of Janice, I exposed the photo
paper for almost five minutes and this is all the evidence that remains
— Brian Nation, email to John F. Barber, ***.
See also Nation's "Beat the Devil" website.
Tuesday, 9 March 1965
Brautigan participated in a reading at Tressider Lounge, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
Brautigan's poem "October 2, 1960" first published in April 1965 issue of San Francisco Keeper's Voice. See Poetry Uncollected > 1965 > poem title.
Astrologer Gavin Arthur, grandson of former president Chester A. Arthur, predicted the destruction of the Northern California coast. Brautigan recruited photographer friend Erik Weber and his wife Lois to drive he and Janice Meissner to visit Price Dunn, then living along the Carmel River. The tidal wave never materialized and the group spent the week together. Weber took a number of photographs of Brautigan and Dunn posing on or in front of chicken coops, buildings, and bouys.
Saturday, 3 July and Saturday, 10 July 1965: Buzz Gallery
Brautigan read the newly-completed manuscript of his novel In Watermelon Sugar at the Buzz Gallery, 1711 Buchanan Street, San Francisco, California. He read the first half the evening of 3 July, the second half 10 July. In Watermelon Sugar was not published until 1968.
Buzz Gallery was an artist commune founded 21 June 1964 by Paul Alexander, Bill Brodecky, and Larry Fagin. Planned to remain open only one year, Buzz Gallery closed following the show by Jack Boyce, 19-20 February 1966. During its short tenure, Buzz provided a gallery where young San Francisco artists could show their work.
Joanne Kyger, in her essay "I Remember Richard Brautigan," writes, "I remember Richard reading his newly finished manuscript of In Watermelon Sugar in two parts over at Buzz Gallery on Buchanan Street, Saturday, July 3, and July 10. Tom Parkinson laughed in all the wrong places. The novel was dedicated to Don Allen, Michael McClure, and me. This was during the famous Berkeley Poetry Conference, July 12-24, 1965. It was a great fermenting stew of poets arriving. Richard was not a part of that" (Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life. McFarland, 2006, p. 142.). See References > Studies > Barber.
The Berkeley Poetry Conference featured Charles Olsen, John Weiners, Gary Snyder, Edward Dorn, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Spicer, and Warren and Ellen Tallman, among others.
Bill Brodecky Moore, a San Francisco artist and one of the original founders of Buzz Gallery, in a brief history of the gallery, also recalls Brautigan's reading. "Richard Brautigan also packed the place with his reading of In Watermelon Sugar. I complimented him effusively afterward, even though I thought the book less good and more stylized than Trout Fishing in America, which I had thought dry and too deliberately droll when he read it in a Mission District former church (at which [Jack] Spicer, who had been a close adviser, was present, proving that his geographic rules were spotty). [Spicer felt that members of the poetry scene in North Beach never went west of Van Ness or south of California Street]."
Moore's monograph Buzz Gallery 1964-1965, published in Big Bridge (vol. 3, no. 1), a webzine of poetry.
Writer David Kherdian recalls drinking and playing pool with other unknown writers, including Brautigan, at Vesuvio, the bohemian bar facing the alley that separated Discovery Books and City Lights Books. Perhaps, however, Kheridan is confusing Vesuvio, which by all accounts never had a pool table, with Mike's other local bar where writers and others gathered to drink, talk, and play pool. Kheridan was writing Six San Francisco Poets (Fresno, CA: Giligia Press, 1969) and considered including Brautigan "in my book but disqualified him on the basis of his poems, that seemed to me minimal at best—but we had long, involved talks about [William] Saroyan, whose work he admired as much as I did. (Kherdian 269). See References > Literary > Kherdian.
Kherdian expressed his feelings further in this poem, "Lately Richard Brautigan Isn't Enough," published in 1969.
comes in a jar
handsome enough to hold
pencils & letteropeners
and other nice things.
And I should mention
Croydom, too, his partner.
They established it in 1797
(David Kherdian. The Sage, no. 12, Oct. 1969, p. 13)
Brautigan applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship. The abstract answers he provided on the application form probably did not help. For example, to the question of the purpose of his project, Brautigan replied, "I would like to write a novel dealing with the legend of America and its influence upon myself and these times. I would like to write another novel about the fiber and mythology of this country. The locale of the novel would be the Pacific Northwest." With regard to other grants and awards, Brautigan wrote, "I have never received any outside help in my writing." As to education, Brautigan replied, "I have no education that can be listed here. My 'education' has been obtained by other means." Brautigan offered no foreign language proficiency, "English is the only language I know." In response to a question about scientific/artistic organizations of which he belonged, Brautigan replied, "I have never been a member of any organization."
In his career statement, Brautigan was more expansive. "As a novelist I am deeply interested in achieving a maximum amount of effect using a minimum space, and I am also very interested in structure and language."
His application was not successful.
Saturday, 23 October 1965
Brautigan and Janice Meissner hosted a Halloween party at their shared apartment, 2830 California Street, San Francisco, which was attended by all the royalty of San Francisco counterculture. Michael and Joanna McClure attended, as did Joanne Kyger and Jack Boyce, John and Margot Doss, and Erik and Lois Weber. Elvin Bishop, then a drummer for the John Coltrane Quartet, was there. Don Allen stopped by, just back from his trip to New Mexico to visit with Robert Creeley. The surprise guests were The Fugs, a legendary, underground punk band from New York City, in town to play at Appeal I, a benefit concert for the Mime Troupe, held early November at the Calliope Warehouse (aka, "The Loft") at 924 Howard Street. Banjo player Sandy Bull and The Jefferson Airplane also performed, as did poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
The invitation, titled "You Are Invited to Become a Costume Party," was a computer punch card with the date and time ("Sat. Oct. 23 8:30 PM"), the address ("2830 Calif. St.), and the host names ("Richard Brautigan, Janice") handwritten by Brautigan.
Grove Press rejected Brautigan's novel In Watermelon Sugar, but offered a $1,500 advance against future work, payable at $250.00 per month for six months starting January 1966.
Sunday, 5 December 1965
Brautigan posed with Beat poets and artists for a photograph by Larry Keenan in front of City Lights Books in San Francisco. The photograph is called variously "The Last Gathering" or "Poets at the City Lights Bookstore." According to Keenan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti wanted to document the 1965 Beat scene in San Francisco in the spirit of early 20th Century photographs of Bohemian artists and writers in Paris. So, he gathered as many as possible in front of his bookstore and Keenan took the photograph titled "The Last Gathering of Beat Poets & Artists, City Lights Books." Brautigan is seen right of center, wearing a white hat. The original photograph was horizontal and showed the entire front of City Lights Books and a larger gathering of Beat poets and writers. The image shown here was cropped by Keenan from the original horizontal photograph and does not show all the Beats gathered.
An alternative photograph by Keenan includes, front row left to right: Robert LaVigne, Shigeyoshi (Shig) Murao, Larry Fagin, Leland Meyezove (lying down), Lew Welch, Peter Orlovsky. Second row: David Meltzer, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Daniel Langton, Steve (friend of Ginsberg), Richard Brautigan (wearing white hat), Gary Goodrow, Nemi Frost. Back row: Stella Levy, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
In another alternative photograph by Keenan, Brautigan is seen in the back, wearing the white hat.
Keenan's photograph was first published on the front cover of City Lights Journal, issue 3 (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1966). Brautigan made no literary contribution to this issue. The photograph in its original format is rarely seen.
The photograph was republished several times after that. One example is the front cover of Huge Dreams: San Francisco and Beat Poems by Michael McClure (New York: Penguin, 1999).
This book reprints two books of poetry by McClure long out of print, The New Book and A Book of Torture and Star. These books are considered by some to represent the cornerstones of the Beat movement. Their poems impart a sense of the rich texture and individuality that fueled the San Francisco Beat movement.
Saturday, 18 December 1965
Brautigan attended the opening midnight performance of Michael McClure's play, The Beard.
James (Jim) Joseph Marshall (3 February 1936, Chicago, Illinois—24 March 2010, New York City, New York), noted photographer of many musicians and the chief photographer at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair (15-18 August 1969, Bethel, New York) photographed Brautigan in 1965 or 1966 on the streets of San Francisco, California, holding a bouquet of white carnations.
Jim Marshall Photography Official Website.
Brautigan sent a Christmas card to Donald Allen. The card, certainly picked by Brautigan to raise questions, featured a picture of a near-naked, tattooed blond female seen from the rear, her legs wrapped in a Nazi flag. The tattoo read, "Property of Satan's Slaves." On the inside, Brautigan wrote "Merry California Christmas!" and signed "Richard and Janice" [Meissner].
Highlights: Summer of Love begins . . . Gets involved with the Diggers.
Brautigan's stories Revenge of the Lawn and A Short History of Religion in California were first published in the winter 1966 issue of TriQuarterly, under the title "Two Stories by Richard Brautigan."
Brautigan's poem, A Study in California Flowers was first published in Coyote's Journal.
Brautigan lived at 2830 California Street (Polk County Directory)
Brautigan sent five stories to Sue Green, who worked with a startup literary magazine in New York called Art Voices. Green returned four, keeping one titled "Kitty Genovese-by-the-Sea," a story about aviator Charles Redgrave marooned on an island southwest of Hawaii. Redgrave writes a note for help, seals it in a bottle, which he casts into the ocean. A couple walking the beach in California find the bottle, but thinking it a hoax, disregard the plea for help. Art Voices went out of business and the story was never published.
Saturday, 26 March 1966
Brautigan took a one-day trip to Tijuana, Mexico, a city known in 1966 for offering several clinics where one could undergo procedures for terminating unwanted pregnancies. Brautigan was researching ideas for a new novel with abortion as central to its plot. The working title was The American Experience by Richard Brautigan. Brautigan began on this new novel in November 1965. The notes Brautigan recorded during his Tijuana trip were included in the novel which became known as The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966.
Tuesday, 19 April 1966
Brautigan gave a poetry reading with Andrew Hoyem at The Coffee Gallery, (formerly Miss Smith's Tea Room which closed in 1958), 1353 Grant Avenue, in San Francisco's North Beach. A stylized handbill, printed in black ink on white stock, announced the reading.
Brautigan read "Revenge of the Lawn" and other examples of his work at the Rhymers Club, Wheeler Hall, University of California Berkeley. His story, The Pretty Office was first published in the second issue of the club's mimeographed magazine, R.C. Lion.
Four days after his reading in Berkeley, Brautigan broke up with Janice Meissner, moved out of her 2830 California Street apartment and into one rented by Andrew Hoyem at 1652 Fell Street. Six weeks after moving in with Hoyem, Brautigan finished his first draft of The Abortion.
Friday, 22 July 1966
Brautigan's contract with Grove Press for publication of Trout Fishing in America expired.
Sunday, 31 July 1966
The option held by Grove Press to publish Brautigan's novel The Abortion expired.
Brautigan's story The Wild Birds of Heaven was first published in July-August issue of Parallel.
Wednesday, 24 August 1966
Brautigan terminated business relationships with Grove Press. He wrote to Barney Rossett, noting that "Grove's lack of interest in honoring the thirty-day decision paragraph in its December 3, 1965 letter to me has forced me to seek another publisher for my work."
Brautigan participted in Artists' Liberation Front (ALF) Fair held in the Pan Handle of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. A short film of the street fair shows Brautigan standing amid the swirling events. See Screenplays > Appearances > 1966 > Artist Liberation Front Fair.
Brautigan moved to 2546 Geary Street, next door to photographer Erik Weber who arranged for Brautigan to take this new apartment. Brautigan lived there until 4 December 1974.
Brautigan's Geary Street apartment, a typical turn-of-the-century, high-ceilinged, San Francisco apartment, was to the right at the top of the front stairs. The front door was wooden, ornately carved, with a small window against which Brautigan always kept small things taped. The front door opened to a hallway leading to the back of the apartment. Faded pink curtains and/or parachutes, hiding the peeling paint and falling ceiling plaster, were hung above the hallway. Along the walls Brautigan hung rock concert posters, mimeographed poems, and paste up for his book covers, and announcements for his poetry readings around San Francisco. Following the success of Trout Fishing in America in 1967, Brautigan had a school of his trademark smiling trout painted on the length of the hallway floor (Keith Abbott 59). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Doors opened from the hallway into the rooms of Brautigan's apartment. The front room contained a brass bed, always made and covered, for a period of time, with a buffalo hide. There was a fireplace in the room but it never worked. The built-in cabinet shelves were loaded with books and a collection of intriguing items: keys, rocks, feathers, and Hell's Angels mementos (Keith Abbott 16; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.); a switchblade in the shape of a dragon, stuck open and wrapped in a rosary, a small Bible covered in mink fur, and a small piece of gold lame given by Janis Joplin. A fishing pole sat in one corner. (Ianthe Brautigan 15, 16). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
Another prominent feature of this room was a small stepladder, painted black and decorated with pink-pompoms hanging from each step by the artist Bruce Conner (Ianthe Brautigan 15; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.). This ladder ("collage" as Conner called it) is shown in photographs of Brautigan's Geary Street apartment by Erik Weber. Apparently, this ladder was a gift from Conner to Brautigan.
In January 2011, a paint-stained and well-used wooden step ladder, attributed to Bruce and Jean Conner, circa 1967-1970, was offered for sale by Christie's as part of the estate of actor Dennis Hopper who died in 2010. The ladder was listed as gift from Brautigan, but no further details were provided. Since this ladder was not painted black, there would appear to be some doubt that this ladder was the original one given by Conner to Brautigan.
Photograph and description of this ladder at the artnet website.
Further down the hallway was Brautigan's writing room. It contained a large, dark oak table used as a desk and some overflowing bookshelves. On the table, under a plastic cover, sat Brautigan's tan IBM Selectric electric typewriter. The window was covered with a torn blue bedspread (Ianthe Brautigan 43). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
The door to the bathroom had a frosted glass window. The bathroom walls were decorated with a Beatles poster and small leaflets. Above the toilet paper hung "a royalty statement from Grove Press stating that A Confederate General from Big Sur had sold 743 copies. What Richard thought about this was easy to guess from its position. (Keith Abbott 18). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
At the back of the apartment was the small kitchen, its linoleum tile worn in places. A porcelain sink with an old-fashioned spigot sat under the window. A white refrigerator, usually sparsely stocked, stood in the corner. In another was the white gas stove. The cupboards contained chili, spaghetti, and sardines, easy to prepare one-can meals, and instant coffee. Furnishings included a round oak table and two chairs, the caning in their seats broken. The cookware was basic; the white tin dishes had pictures of fruit on them. Brautigan may have changed the wall decorations periodically. Keith Abbott said when he first met Brautigan, in March 1966, the only decoration was "a funky, butcher paper and crayon poster for Richard's first reading of Trout Fishing in America" (Keith Abbott 17). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
The poster was made by poet friend Michael McClure. "I drew it by hand, Richard face-forward with his glasses, hat, and mustache. Across from that I drew his profile, then wrote DIGGER under one and POET under the other. Richard kept that poster up on the wall forever, along with other posters, and good notices. He loved it. Everything got very old on his walls. He'd hang new things but he'd never take anything away or down. The things about him comforted him and got cobwebby. It was like an old museum of himself" (Michael McClure 36-37). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > McClure.
The kitchen walls featured several interesting decorations like, "a pencil drawing of a bus with real Lincoln penny heads as passengers, a few small Fillmore Auditorium posters, and a picture of an ancient Colt pistol" (Ianthe Brautigan 16). See See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe.
The back porch was the repository for copies of the San Francisco Chronicle. Brautigan read the paper daily and archived years of back issues on the porch. A rickety staircase led from the porch to the backyard.
Brautigan involved himself with the Diggers, a group of civic anarchists active in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district 1966-1968 who tried to achieve social change through street theater, leaderless events, and services to the needy (Keith Abbott 35).
Allegedly, Brautigan attended the meeting of the Artists' Liberation Front where the Diggers were formed (Barney Hoskyns 119). By most accounts, however, the Diggers evolved from the San Francisco Mime Troupe, which was closely associated with the Artists' Liberation Front through their common founder, Ronnie G. Davis.
A photograph shows Brautigan, and Emmett Grogan (left, wearing beads) attending a meeting. Grogan was one of the founders of the Diggers. Brautigan was, until he achieved his own fame as a writer, well-connected with the Diggers and Grogan. Brautigan's poem, Death Is A Beautiful Car Parked Only was written for and dedicated to Grogan.
Brautigan admired the services Diggers provided to the needy, like free housing and food. The daily free food program was held in The Panhandle, an extension of Golden Gate State Park, where the Diggers provided donated or stolen produce, meat, and bread to hungry Haight-Ashbury residents. Some of the food was picked up in a 1958 Dodge truck "provided by a rich lady friend of Richard Brautigan" (Gene Anthony 34).
The logistics of procuring and transporting food included the need for dependable transportation. Emmett Grogan, one of the founders of the Diggers, also writes about Brautigan's help in securing a truck in his autobiography Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps (Boston, Little, Brown, 1972; reprinted Rebel, 1999).
"The Ford wagon finally up and died one day, and it looked like the yellow submarine [a VW bus] wasn't going to last much longer either, being driven sixteen to twenty hours a day. Emmett and a crew of Diggers were discussing the need for another vehicle, when in the front door walked Richard Brautigan, a tall, carrot-haired, thirty-five-year-old poet wearing grandpa glasses, a peacoat and a floppy, broad-brimmed, felt hat. He also sported a golden bristled moustache, which drooped over his upper lip like a nodding eyelash. Richard called his poems "Tidbits" and he wrote quite a few for the free handbills which were mimeographed and distributed by the Communication Company, a small organization set up by two office-staffers of Ramparts magazine. Their names were Claude [Hayward] and Chester [Anderson] and, turned on by the style of the Digger Papers, they effectively replaced the need for them by printing single-sheet newspapers which were handed out along Haight Street several times a day. The Communication Company was one of the best newspapers any community ever had.
"Brautigan had some news himself that day—an item about a wealthy young woman named Flame who wanted to buy the Diggers something they could use, and needed.
"'Would she go for a pickup truck?' someone asked.
"'Sure,' came the reply, and Butcher Brooks jumped to his feet, asking Richard to take him to her and telling everyone else that he would be back that evening with a pickup he has his eye on. And that evening, he did return, driving a '58 Chevy pickup in great condition with a brand new set of tires. Next to him on the front seat sat a stunning redhead with long full hair and skin the color of ivory. She was Flame all right and she soon became Brooks's old lady, living with him in another storefront on Webster Street in the Fillmore" (265-266).
Max Grogan's (son of Emmett) "1%free's photos" website.
By some accounts, Brautigan was well-connected with the Diggers—his poem Death Is A Beautiful Car Only was written for and dedicated to Emmett Grogan—and often participated in or supported their activities. Once he achieved his own fame and financial success, however, his association with the Diggers became more distant, a fact that some Diggers resented. Perhaps they thought Brautigan no longer needed their support after it had been provided without question for so long before his success. For Brautigan, it is likely that he felt Diggers would think badly of him for making money, or based on their "free" mentality, expect some percentage of his success.
Brautigan's poems "The House," "My Nose is Growing Old," and "November 3," were published in the December 1966 issue of O'er. In addition, this issue also featured a full-page advertisement for The Galilee Hitch-Hiker to be published by Oar, complete with made up blurbs promoting the book.
Sunday, 17 December 1966
Brautigan participated in the Diggers inspired "Death and Rebirth of the Haight" (aka "Death of Money") parade. Marchers carried a black coffin marked with dollar signs down Haight Street. When San Francisco police attempted to arrest Hell's Angel member, Angel "Hairy Henry" Kot, for allowing Phyllis (Roz) Willner, 16 years old wearing a homemade Supergirl costume, to stand on the seat of his motorcycle as he drove down Haight Street, Kot resisted. Fellow Hells Angel Charles George "Chocolate George" Hendricks, Jr., who attempted to assist Kot, was also charged with resisting arrest. Both were taken to the nearby Park Street Station. A large crowd, including Brautigan, poet Michael McClure, and another Hells Angel, Freewheelin' Frank (Frank Reynolds), marched to the Park Street police station in a spontaneous protest, shouting for the release of both men. The crowd passed the hat and collected bail money for both Henry and George who were released (Barney Hoskins 121 and Peter Coyote 96); Kot was detained for a parole violation. Gene Anthony captured a fine series of photographs of the event, including one of Brautigan standing in front of the police station (Gene Anthony 132-145). In 1989, Phyllis (Roz) Kot sent Henry's "colors," his Hells Angels vest, to the Smithsonian Institute, along with two photocopies of newspaper articles about the event, and a letter noting, "Hank as he was more commonly called . . . has since passed away and I felt you were the appropriate entity to receive this jacket."
"A Hells Angel Goes to the Smithsonian". Learn more, view photographs of Hairy Henry's colors, and some of Gene Anthongy's photographs at this webpage of the Chop Cult website.
Tuesday, 20 December 1966
Brautigan gave two poetry readings (9:00 and 11:00 PM) at The Coffee Gallery, (formerly Miss Smith's Tea Room which closed in 1958), 1353 Grant Avenue, in San Francisco's North Beach. Sharing the bill were William Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed), Allen Dienstag, and Andrew Hoyem.
Highlights: Poet in residence at California Institute of Technology . . . Involved with The Invisible Circus, a Digger event . . . Participates in the Bedrock One, a benefit for the Communication Company . . . Participates in several poetry readings . . . Trout Fishing in America published . . . All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace published.
Brautigan began a relationship with Michaela Blake-Grand, the former girlfriend of Andy Cole, with whom Brautigan shared an apartment October-December 1963 (see above). Known as "Mikey," Brautigan called Blake-Grand his muse. She appeared with Brautigan in the front cover photograph for Trout Fishing in America and with Brautigan and daughter Ianthe in the front cover photograph for Brautigan's first collection, Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, In Watermelon Sugar. Brautigan dedicated his poem I've Never Had It Done So Gently Before to "M" (Michaela) and during his poet-in-residency at the California Institute of Technology (see below) wrote her other, unpublished, poems.
Wednesday, 4 January 1967
Brautigan participated with David Sandberg and Jeff Sheppard in a poetry reading at the I/Thou Coffee Shop, 1736 Haight Street.
Thursday, 12 January 1967
Brautigan participated with Gary Snyder, Lenore Kandel, Lew Welch, George Stanley, David Meltzer, Ron Loewinshon, and William Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed) in "The 1st San Francisco Poet's Benefit for the Diggers" held at Deno & Carlo, 728 Vallejo Street, at 8:00 pm. The event was conceived by Brautigan, who told owner Lou Marcelli he would arrange for Allen Ginsberg to headline the event. Brautigan drew the 8.5" x 11" mimeograph poster advertising the event including his stylized carp, flowers, and an all-seeing eye in a circle at the top, center, surrounded by the words "Free! We love you! Free! We love you!". Additionally, the event was advertised on page five of the January 1967 edition of the Oracle and in a column written by Ralph Gleason for the San Francisco Chronicle. Despite this minimal advertising, the event drew more than one hundred people. The Diggers were a group of civic anarchists who tried to achieve social change through various planned but "leaderless" events.
Friday, 13 January 1967
Brautigan attended a party hosted by Andrew Hoyem at his Fell Street apartment. Hoyem called his party "Meet My Television Set." Allegedly, Brautigan removed all his clothes save his bead necklaces and his hat.
Saturday, 14 January 1967
Although not invited to participate, Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem attended the Human Be-In at the east end of the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. The six-block area was filled with over twenty thousand people.
Sunday, 15 January 1967
Brautigan left San Francisco with Andrew Hoyem who drove them to the California Institute of Technology campus in Los Angeles. Brautigan and Hoyem were to be poets-in-residence for the following ten days. Arriving at night, Brautigan and Hoyem were housed in the guest suite at Ricketts House on the Cal Tech campus where they enjoyed a late night party.
Monday, 16 January 1967
Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem gave a reading at Hoyem's alma mater, Pomona College, in nearby Claremont, California. Brautigan was paid $50.00. A cocktail reception at the home of Irish poet W. R. "Bertie" Rogers followed.
Tuesday-Saturday, 17-26 January 1967: Poet-in-Residence, California Institute of Technology
Brautigan and San Francisco poet Andrew Hoyem stayed on the California Institute of Technology campus in Pasadena, California, during this ten-day period. They lived in the guest suite at Ricketts House. This was the first of Brautigan's teaching experiences. The invitation came from John F. Crawford, instructor in the English Department who was working with Hoyem to publish a new translation of the Middle English poem Pearl.
Crawford wrote a short essay, titled "Poets in Transit," about Brautigan and Hoyem visiting the California Institute of Technology, which was published in Engineering and Science, February 1967. READ this essay.
During his time at Cal Tech, Brautigan wrote the poem At the California Institute of Technology, which was first published in the May 1967 issue of the school's literary magazine, Totem. He also wrote Fisherman's Lake and Mammal Fortress, two poems, both for Michaela Blake-Grand. Neither were ever collected or published. Additionally, he wrote Blake-Grand three times during his residency at Cal Tech.
Following the conclusion of their residency, Brautigan and Hoyem visited with physicist Richard Feynman whose work with quantum electrodynamics had won the Nobel Prize two years earlier. Additionally, they spent time in Hollywood where Brautigan wrote a poem (never published) entitled "Hollywood" in which he noted lonely men taking out the trash along a residential street overlooked by the famous Hollywood sign.
Friday, 27 January 1967
Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem, fresh from their poets-in-residency at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, arrived at the home of Jack and Vicki Shoemaker in Isla Vista, north of Santa Barbara. Shoemaker managed the Unicorn Book Shop, 905 Embarcadero del Norte, near the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus, and later co-founded North Point Press, Counterpoint, and Shoemaker & Hoard. Brautigan and Hoyem were to read that evening at the Unicorn Book Shop. When the Shoemaker's baby sitter, Althea Susan Morgan, a nineteen-year old student at UCSB, arrived, she and Brautigan were immediately attracted to each other. Following the reading, Brautigan persuaded Morgan to join him and others for a visit to the hot spring at Gaviota State Park. Thus began Brautigan's relationship with Morgan, which ended in June 1967.
Saturday, 28 January 1967
Brautigan, with Morgan, and Andrew Hoyem attended a poet's party at the home of Jack and Vicki Shoemaker. Later, Morgan visited Brautigan in San Francisco, and Brautigan visited Morgan in Santa Barbara and exchanged a series of letters. See Non-Fiction > Letters > Susan Morgan.
Feedback from Susan Morgan
"In 1967 I was a sophomore at UCSB [University of California-Santa Barbara]. I had a very laid-back job as a baby-sitter for a guy [Jack Shoemaker] who managed the Unicorn Book Shop in Isla Vista, an enclave next to UC Santa Barbara housing inhabited mainly by students. The Unicorn was just a few blocks from campus in Isla Vista. One night, mid-January after I had returned from Xmas break, Richard Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem and maybe Lew Welch were at Jack's house when I arrived to baby-sit. They were doing a reading that night at the Unicorn. We chatted a little.
"After the reading the poets returned to see if I wanted to join them on a trip up to the Gaviota Hot Springs. We all headed up there in a VW MiniVan smoking weed and Richard played the finger cymbals and chanted. Richard did not smoke. It was a magical night with a full moon in the amazing hot pool in an opening in the woods with bats swooping over our heads. Andrew wrote a poem about it.
"I had vaguely heard of Richard. I thought he was quirky and interesting. Physically he was none too attractive, but he was charming. I think I brought him home to my apartment with me that night and then he started writing me and inviting me to visit him in the City. He came down to Isla Vista again several more times. Once he came to meet with Basil Bunting, who was poet in residence at UCSB.
"On one of my several visits to SF to see Richard he took me to a thrift shop off Fillmore near Union. I bought a lovely lavender satin dressing gown from the 1930's or '40's for $1.45 which I wore often. When he arranged for his neighbor Erik [Weber] to photograph the two of us that is what I was wearing. The photos (there is one of me alone too) were certainly not flattering of me. Richard liked to drink and at that time I was not a drinker at all. I had had a couple of glasses of wine the night before and was feeling horribly hung over. We had had dinner with, I think it was, Ron Loewenstein over in Berkeley. Even though Richard didn't drive we managed to get around lots of places. He was very restless and seemed to want to be constantly active and on the go. I was used to sitting around smoking dope and listening to music for hours on end, so it was always exciting to be with Richard. He introduced me to Michael McClure, took me to meet Free Wheelin' Frank (who wasn't home), Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lenore Kandel.
"Richard took me to Lyle Tuttle to get a tatto, which at the time was quite rare thing for a woman.
"I was friends with him from early 1967 through about June when he was really getting famous and I felt he was getting too full of himself. He came down to Isla Vista and could not stop talking about all his glorious achievements. Previously he had been a humble, quirky, all too human character. I couldn't take the bragging and gave him the cold shoulder.
"I saw him the next year at a poetry reading and we were cordial and exchanged another letter.
"Then in 1968 or 1969, when I was living in Bolinas, I ran into Richard
who was with a real estate agent one day. I greeted him warmly and he
pretended not to recognize me. It was really bizarre and insulting. I
don't know what that was about. But it changed my feelings about Richard
and seemed a natural progression of the bloated ego he had exhibited in
June of 1967.
— Althea Susan Morgan. Email to John F. Barber, 4 December 2005.
Brautigan and Morgan visited each other frequently. While visiting Morgan in Santa Barbara, California, Brautigan wrote the poem "The Sitting Here, Standing Here Poem" for Morgan, who recounts the poem's genesis. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1967 > poem title.
Sunday, 29 January 1967
Brautigan and Andrew Hoyem returned to San Francisco.
Brautigan's novel A Confederate General from Big Sur was translated and published in Italy.
Friday, 24 February-Sunday, 26 February 1967
Brautigan participated in The Invisible Circus, "a 72-hour environmental community happening" held in The Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 330 Ellis Street at Taylor in San Francisco. The event was planned by the Diggers with the Artists' Liberation Front in response to the earlier January 14 Human Be-In. Brautigan participated in the planning for the event, arranged for Victor Moscoso to produce an event poster, and coordinated The John Dillinger Computer Complex.
On behalf of the Diggers, Brautigan "phoned Victor Moscoso and asked him to do a poster for the event. . . . Moscoso . . . selected a black-and-white picture from an art book on surrealism and painted the lettering above it in a single evening" (William Hjortsberg 295). The single sheet, 5" x 7" announcement was printed black and white, and signed by Moscoso. See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
One thousand copies of a 8.5" x 11" tri-colored handbill by Dave Hodges were printed and distributed, but advertising for the event was limited mostly to word of mouth.
Brautigan attended the organizational meeting, invited by Peter Coyote who described the "poet and author" as "a tall, mustachioed wraith who wandered the Haight gravely peering at everything through round, frameless glasses. I'd asked him to join us, and now he stood owlishly at the rear of the room, swiveling his head as if he were seeking the sources of sound" (Peter Coyote 78).
Emmett Grogan, another founder of the Diggers, described the planning process in his autobiography Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps (Boston, Little, Brown, 1972; reprinted Rebel, 1999). Grogan said "poets Richard Brautigan and Lenore Kandel" and others who could organize a meaningful event were invited. The planning session was held in the basement of the Glide Memorial Church (281).
One idea that evolved from the planning session was to place the mimeograph machines, stencil cutters, and typewriters from the offices of the Communication Company, run by Chester Hayward (left in photograph) and Claude Anderson (right in photograph) in a room of the Glide Memorial Church. The result would be an immediate and spontaneous printing effort to encourage attendees to publish whatever they liked. Brautigan was placed in charge of this endeavor. Perhaps his first action was to name it The John Dillinger Computer Complex, playing on its outlaw nature.
Claude Hayward remembers moving the equipment to the basement of the Glide Memorial Church, but can not remember who provided the truck.
Feedback from Claude Hayward
"The Invisible Circus was one of the more inspired 'happenings' in an era that was really happening. Richard certainly was involved in getting me to drag the equipment down to the church. I don't remember who had a vehicle, but I'm sure it was the first time we tried to move the operation. We set up down stairs in the building attached to Glide [Memorial United Methodist] Church. Some little cubicle and a card table. I just stood there and processed whatever came in; I remember there was something from Freewheelin' Frank. I actually didn't get to see a lot of the action, but I heard about it. Things got so outrageous that I believe the plug finally got pulled when word got back to the powers-that-be that a sexual act had been performed on the altar or something. We had the Gestetner, the Gestefax and an old IBM Executive, along with a case of paper and Inks and stencils. The room was a constant buzz, with people in and out in an unending stream."
— Claude Hayward. Email to John F. Barber, 17 December 2003.
Keith Abbott, in his memoir "Garfish, Chili Dogs, and the Human Torch: Memories of Richard Brautigan and San Francisco, 1966," says the truck was his, and recounts how Brautigan recruited his help.
"Since I had a truck, Richard enlisted me to help with the setting up of what he called THE JOHN DILLINGER COMPUTER COMPLEX.
"This was the mimeo machines and typewriters and stencil cutters, etc., of the Communications Company. It was to be an outlaw media center. Anyone who wanted to print something could come in and do it. There were also readings scheduled for that night, and I was invited to read along with others.
"There were no advertisements of this event, no tickets, no interviews or notice given. The word went out. And thousands showed up. The sheer volume sent the publishing center into breakdown. Machines ran until they broke.
After the equipment was installed, a poster drawn on brown butcher paper, and featuring the John Dillinger name, a smoking gun, and gangster getaway cars was hung on the wall" (219). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Grogan described the output of The John Dillinger Computer Complex in his autobiography Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps. "Richard Brautigan, working with Claude [Hayward] and Chester [Anderson], had set up 'The John Dillinger Computer Service.' Using the machinery from the Communication Company, they printed Flash! bulletins and news items notifying everyone about what was going on where and how to get there and also telling them the news right after it happened. This was done by dispatching reporters all over the church to cover various events and report back to 'Dillinger' headquarters to type their stories on stencils. With these stencils, several hundred releases were immediately mimeographed and distributed to the crowd" (Grogan 283).
Although he admits not being there, Peter Coyote provides an account of Brautigan's activities. "Richard Brautigan and Claude Hayward [co-founder, along with Chester Anderson, of the Communication Company] established a printing press in one room, and Richard wandered the floors, observing the madness, and then rushed back to print and distribute special handbills commenting on and alerting others to what he had observed, linking the participants in a prototypical World Wide Web" (Peter Coyote 79).
The events started at 8:00 PM, Friday evening, with live music, panel discussions, movies, and general free-form self-expression. By 10:00 PM, events were out of hand due to the thousands of people passing through the Church. Brautigan was scheduled to read poetry at midnight in the Church's Sanctuary, but crowd noise prevented him being heard. Around 4:00 AM Saturday, Church officials pulled the plug and worked to get everyone to leave. When Brautigan left, he took The John Dillinger Computer Complex poster to his Geary Street apartment and hung it on a wall.
The John Dillinger Computer Complex printed and distributed over seventy five communications during the event: poetry, overhead conversations, rumors, artwork, announcements, and I Ching readings (Charles Perry 145).
Brautigan's involvement in The Invisible Circus stemmed from his involvement with the Communication Company, a community printing and publication business aligned with the Diggers. The Communication Company published several of Brautigan's early poems in single sheet and broadside formats and one poetry collection, All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace, all distributed freely on the streets of San Francisco. This calculated self-promotion brought Brautigan increased distribution of his writing, a larger audience, and heightened notoriety (Keith Abbott 36-38, 40; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott and Nicholas von Hoffman 129).
Of Brautigan's involvement with the Diggers, Michael McClure said, "One of the things I liked most about Richard was that he was the real poet of the Diggers. He was often on Haight Street passing out papers from the Digger Communications [sic] Company. I liked that activism. Richard was doing it because he believed in it" (Michael McClure 39). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > McClure.
During one of Susan Morgan's visits with Brautigan in San Francisco, Erik Weber photographed the couple in Brautigan's Geary Street apartment. The photograph was intended for use on the front cover of a possible future book. The book never materialized.
Sunday, 5 March 1967
Brautigan participated in Bedrock One, "a rockdance-environment happening benefit for the Communication Company in honor of the c. i. a." The happening was held at California Hall, 625 Polk Street, San Francisco, a large building owned by the German-American Association. Brautigan and The Caped Crusaders provided the poetry.
The event was produced for the Communication Company by The Experimental Theatre Co-Op, L.A.M.F. and was noted as "first in a series directed by Chester Anderson." The time was 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM; Admission was $2.50.
Brautigan's collection of poetry, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace was first published by the Communication Company in two different single-sheet formats, each intended for free distribution. Brautigan drew the idea of giving away his poetry from the Diggers, whose public street theater practice of giving away things he admired.
Brautigan arranged for the photograph he wanted to include on the front cover of his anticipated novel, Trout Fishing in America. He gathered Michaela Blake-Grand and Erik Weber in Weber's kitchen where Brautigan posed leaning against the refrigerator and Clark sat on a small stool, built in the furniture workshop of Clayton Lewis, to one side. Unhappy with the pose, Weber suggested they move to Washington Square. Here, posed with the statue of Benjamin Franklin behind, Brautigan standing and Clark again seated on the stool, Weber took the photograph used on the front cover of Brautigan's best known novel, and defined an era.
Thursday, 16 March 1967
Brautigan attended a poetry reading by Gary Snyder at the Fillmore Auditorium. After walking to his apartment in the rain, Brautigan wrote the poem "Rainy Gary Snyder Poetry Reading Night," which was first published in The Poet's Eye: A Tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Books. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1997 > poem title.
Friday, 24 March 1967
During a visit by Susan Morgan to Brautigan in San Francisco Brautigan wrote and dedicated to her the poem "Albion Breakfast".
Wednesday, 5 April 1967
Gray Line Bus Company began offering "San Francisco Haight-Ashbury District 'Hippie Hop' Tours" which they advertised as "the only foreign tour within the continential limits of the United States." The "Hashberry," as Gray Line called it, was world famous, as were the street theater antics of the people, the hippies, who lived there. The "Hippie Hop" tours were designed to give tourists a look and feel of the place. Monday through Friday, two buses a day followed a two-hour tour route from downtown San Francisco hotels through the Haight-Ashbury district. Tourists were given a "Glossary of Hippie Terms." By April, residents of Haight-Ashbury saw little interest in being subjects of such tours. Buses were met by Diggers and others who turned broken mirrors on the tourists, turning back a reflection of the gawkers' curiosity. "Novelist Richard Brautigan ambled about the streets carrying a mirror that he held out before likely looking tourists, exclaiming, 'Know thyself!'" (Gene Anthony 27). Anthony photographed Brautigan, mirror in hand, confronting tourists. After five weeks, on Monday, 15 May, Gray Line cancelled "The Hippie Hop" tour, citing traffic congestion in the Haight-Ashbury area (Charles Perry 171, 178, 193).
Thursday, 6 April 1967
Brautigan participated in a Diggers poetry reading for the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam at the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 330 Ellis Street at Taylor in San Francisco, California.
The Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, or Spring Mobe, or Angry Arts Week, was part of a nationwide protest against the war in Vietnam organized in November 1966 to sponsor antiwar demonstrations in the spring of 1967. Two mass demonstrations were planned: one in New York City, the other in San Francisco. On Saturday, 15 April 1967 more than 125,000 people marched against the war in New York. In San Francisco, 60,000 people demonstrated. Up until this time, the Spring Mobilization was the largest ever antiwar demonstration.
The letter-sized (28 x 22 cm) promotional poster for the event was printed in San Francisco by the Communication Company. It was printed one side, black ink on tan/brown paper, and featured an image of a naked man carrying a sheep over his shoulder. The image was taken from a drawing by neo-impressionist painter Georges Seurat (1891-1959). Another Seurat drawing was used on Brautigan's broadside poem The Beautiful Poem). Imprint on the poster reads: "Gestetnered by the Communication Company" (Reference to the Gestetner mimeograph machines used to print this and other Communication Company publications).
Participating poets listed on the promotional poster included: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lenore Kandel, Lew Welch, Ed Bullins, Richard Brautigan, Andrew Hoyem, Pamels [Pamela] Millward, James Koller, William (Bill) Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed), Jeff Sheppard, Patrick Gleason, and Ron Loewinson.
Thursday, 13 April 1967
Brautigan participated in the Joyful Alternative Peace Poet's Dance, 8:00 PM - 2:00 AM, at California Hall, 425 Polk Street, San Francisco, a large building owned by the German-American Association. This event was part of the lead up to the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam demonstration on 15 April 1967.
The Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, or Spring Mobe, or Angry Arts Week, was part of a nationwide protest against the war in Vietnam organized in November 1966 to sponsor antiwar demonstrations in the spring of 1967. Two mass demonstrations were planned: one in New York City, the other in San Francisco. On 15 April 1967 more than 125,000 people marched against the war in New York. In San Francisco, 60,000 people demonstrated. Up until this time, the Spring Mobilization was the largest ever antiwar demonstration.
The 13" x 19.5" promotional poster features a psychedelic illustration of a human head composed of the participant's names printed in blue ink, and a reproduction of book cover art by poet Kenneth Patchen on orange-red paper. The event is noted as "preperation" [sic] for the "giant march" scheduled for 15 April 1967.
The participants (in order of appearance on the poster) include Kenneth Patchen, Lew Welch, Charles Upton, Lenore Kandel (in absence), Robert Duncan, David Meltzer, Tom Parkinson, George Stanley, James Broughton with Joel Anderson on harp, Jeff Sheppard, Richard Brautigan, County Joe and The Fish, and Serpent Prowler. A light show was also scheduled.
Friday, 14 April 1967
Brautigan planned and participated in a Diggers-sponsored event in the Panhandle of Golden Gate State Park. Billed as a "Candle Opera," the event, conceived by Brautigan as a memorial to the death of an unknown person, was part of the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam.
A Communications Company promotional poster notes "candles, incense, and love" as part the event, along with music by Country Joe and The Fish, New Age, Mad River, All Night Apothecary, Morning Glory, Moebius, and other bands.
Hundreds of candles were distributed and Brautigan encouraged the audience to light and hold them aloft, thus forming a human candelabra. This was Brautigan's take on a Digger-style street theater event.
Wednesday, 19 April 1967
Brautigan invited to attend a Reception Honoring Bay Area Writers by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.
Wednesday, 10 May 1967
Brautigan participated in a Lenore Kandel reading sponsored by the University of California-Davis English Graduate Students' Club. Kandel read from her Love Book. Also featured, along with Brautigan, was longshoreman, poet, and Hells Angel, William (Bill) Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed). The reading was held at 8:00 PM in Room 194 of the New Chemistry Building on the university campus. A 10" x 13" poster advertising the event, by John Thompson, printed in medium green ink on light green stock, featured a bare-breasted woman with light beams shooting from her nipples.
Brautigan participated in a three-day Writer's Conference sponsored by San Francisco State University at Camp Loma Mar in Pascadero, north of Santa Cruz, California. Over fifty writers were invited to participate including Stephen Schneck, Herbert Gold, Don Carpenter, James Broughton, Thomas Sanchez, George Hitchcock, Lester Cole, Lawrence Fixel, Lenore Kandel, Janine Pommy Vega, William (Bill) Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed), and Stan and Anne Rice.
Saturday, 3 June 1967
Brautigan participated in Pacific Coast Free Thing in Santa Barbara, California, Saturday, 3 June 1967, on East Beach opposite the Bird Refuge, sponsored by Unicorn Books and The New Community. The poster by Chuck Miller, a noted poster artist of the period, announcing the event noted the "celebration" happening from dusk to dawn on Isla Vista Beach. Free food was provided. Poets included Charles Upton, [William] Bill Fritch, Lenore Kandel, Lew Welch, Jeff Sheppard, Andrew Hoyem, and Brautigan. Entertainment was provided by Raw Violet Flying Circus, Alexander's Timeles Blues Band, Mad River, Phoenix, Underground Railroad, and The Group. Lights were provided by Aurora Clorialis. Miller's work appears in The Art of Rock (Abbeville Press, 1999).
Brautigan, designated as the spokesman for the event, described the various events in an interview with the local newspaper. He also scouted the local supermarket dumpsters for usable fruit and vegetables—the "free food" part of the event. The Communication Company Gestetners were brought to print immediate, "on-the-spot" news about the event, as had been done at the earlier Invisible Circus (William Hjortsberg 316). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Feedback from Steve Hart
"I found your website while searching the internet for mention of 'The Pacific Coast Free Thing.' Although there were no Google hits for the Free Thing, there were many for Richard Brautigan, which is how I found your interesting Chronology.
"I attended the Free Thing, which took place on June 3, 1967 in Santa Barbara. I still have the Chuck Miller poster that was printed to promote it, which includes Brautigan's name as one of the attractions. I met him there and drank wine out of the bottle with him on the beach.
"I had been staying in Berkeley for a few days with Rick Bockner, who
was in the band Mad River. He was a high school friend. We both attended
high school in St. Louis County, Missouri. We went into San Francisco
to the Digger Store, got in the back of a pickup truck with a bunch of
other people, and headed for Santa Barbara. I know that Lenore Kandel
was one of the other people in the truck, but I don't remember the names
of the others. We made several stops along the way, including a visit
to a couple living in a cabin north of Santa Barbara, and at the UCSB
campus. My most vivid memory was the view to the west while traveling
south through the Salinas Valley. It was my first time in California,
and the valley was warm and lush. I really thought I had come to the
— Steve Hart. Email to John F. Barber, 29 December 2008.
A columnist who wrote about city walking tours for the San Francisco Chronicle visited "Hippie Hill," a small hill in Golden Gate State Park and a favorite spot to watch the gathering young people. Brautigan acted as her guide and asked her to point out the quiteness and color of the area (Charles Perry 199).
Early this month Brautigan met Marcia Pacaud of Montreal, Canada. Pacaud worked at Tides Bookstore in Sausalito, and was friends with Canadian poet, songwriter, and composer Leonard Cohen. Brautigan and Pacaud ended their relationship in the spring of 1968. After that they remained friends and correspondents.
On 12 July, Brautigan wrote two poems for Pacaud while staying at her Sausalito apartment, 15 Princess Lane (number 5): "A Place Where the Wind Doesn't Live" and "The Planted Egg, the Harvested Bird." Both were unpublished and uncollected. See Poetry > Uncollected > poem titles.
Brautigan wrote several other poems for Pacaud, including The Shenevertakesherwatchoff Poem, Map Shower, I've Never Had It Done So Gently Before, Your Necklace is Leaking, I Live in the Twentieth Century, Gee, You're So Beautiful That It's Starting to Rain, The Garlic Meat Lady from, and I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment.
At the end of July, Brautigan received a telephone call from William Jersey, president of Quest Productions, a small New York film company. Jersey agreed to pay Brautigan $1,000 for expanding an idea for a documentary film about San Francisco. Brautigan produced a fifteen-page treatment for a movie to be called Magicians of Light. It was to be a movie about movie making in San Francisco and would feature many of the members of the hip community. The film was never made. See Screenplays > Treatments > film title.
Sunday, 20 August 1967
Erik Weber and his wife Lois left San Francisco, bound for India. Prior to his departure, Weber took a photograph of Brautigan in the garden behind his Gerry Street apartment. The color photograph shows Brautigan, wearing a Navy peacoat and hat holding a yellow jonquil. Weber's photograph was used on the front cover of The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings.
Needing a photographer, Brautigan turned to Edmund Shea whom he had known for quite some time. Shea, a professional photographer, produced the photographs that appeared on the covers of several of Brautigan's books.
The release of Brautigan's novel, Trout Fishing in America, planned for early 1967, was delayed until 31 October when the contracted typesetter refused the job. Instead, Zoe Brown, wife of Brautigan's friend, Bill Brown, typed the manuscript and prepared it for publication.
Members of the band Mad River moved from Berkeley to San Francisco, California, to an apartment on Oak Street, overlooking the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. (They moved back to Berkeley in early 1968.) Brautigan, who knew the band, frequently visited their apartment. The band's second record album, "Paradise Bar and Grill," featured Brautigan reciting his poem, "Love's Not the Way to Treat a Friend."
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace published, first as a broadside then as a pamphlet of thirty-three poems by the Communication Company. Brautigan "gave" this poem to the Diggers. It was included in The Digger Papers.
At the end of September, the first copies of Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America were released. Trout Fishing in America was the first of three Brautigan novels and one poetry collection published by Donald Merriam Allen (1912-2004) and his nonprofit press, Four Seasons Foundation. Early, favorable reviews by Herb Cohen and Don Carpenter hailed Brautigan as a fresh new voice in American literature.
Brautigan attended the Digger event, Death of Hippie, a candlelight funeral procession which began at sunrise on Buena Vista Hill, marched down Haight Street, with costumed pall bearers carrying a cardboard coffin containing various hippie paraphernalia. The street theatre was thought to signify the end of the "Summer of Love." A broadside titled "Death of Hippie" published 6 October 1967 by the Communication Company details the Diggers thinking.
Brautigan published Boo, Forever, in Free City News, an anthology of ten poems, each published as broadsides by the Diggers and printed by the Communication Company. The poem was published without title, and anonymously.
Thursday and Friday, 19 and 20 October 1967
Brautigan read his newly-published Trout Fishing in America in its entirety at the Unicorn Book Shop, 905 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, California. Two separate readings were offered. Brautigan read the first half of his novel on Thursday, 19 October and the second half on Friday, 20 October. The silk screen poster (24" x 18") by Chuck Miller, friend to Jack Shoemaker, owner of the Unicorn Book Shop, announcing the event printed an illustration of Brautigan and text in black on a blue background. Miller was a noted poster artist of the period. Miller's work appears in The Art of Rock (Abbeville Press, 1999).
Brautigan's short story, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 published in the December 1967 issue of Ramparts.
The story included a photograph by Baron Wolman of Brautigan, one of several he took in 1967 for publicity. Also included was a review of Trout Fishing in America by Stephen Schneck who participated on the Creative Arts Conference program with Brautigan in August 1969. See Trout Fishing in America > Reviews > Schneck. Schneck
The second issue (23 November 1967) of the newly launched Rolling Stone magazine, included an endorsement for the Minimum Daily Requirement coffeehouse, 348 Columbus, at the intersection with Grant, written by Brautigan: "A nice place to eat where it's green and beautiful and open until three in the morning."
A second printing of three thousand copies of Brautigan's novel Trout Fishing in America was ordered by Donald Allen. This edition corrected the omission of Erik Weber's photo credit for the first edition front cover, and included All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace to the list of Brautigan's books on the catalog page. Allen also announced his decision to have his Four Seasons Foundation publish Brautigan's next novel, In Watermelon Sugar the following spring, along with a collection of Brautigan's poetry, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster.
Highlights: In Watermelon Sugar published . . . The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster published . . . Please Plant This Book published . . . Awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Anthology Program grant.
Two weeks before his birthday, 30 January, Brautigan wrote the poem "The Privacy of My Dreams Is Like Death" which remains unpublished. See Poetry Unpublished > poem title.
A photograph of McClure and Brautigan on Haight Street, San Francisco, 1968. Photograph taken by McClure's cousin, Rhyder McClure, was used on front cover of Transit, Spring 2002, which featured "Richard Brautigan: A Memoir" by John Thomas, as well as work by McClure. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Thomas.
Feedback from Ryder McClure
"I took this photo of Richard and Michael [McClure] in 1968 on Haight Street in SF. I'd been chatting with Richard when Michael (he's my cousin) pulled up on his chopper. This photo has been coming out of the underground over the last few years . . . and I thought you might like it.
"I saw Michael last month—he did a reading here in NYC. I was packing a camera and commented, "Maybe this picture will be better than the one of you and Richard." He responded, "No one will ever take a better picture than that!"
Richard and I were friends in SF—we used to sit at Enricos and watch the world (mainly girls) go by. The only thing he ever said to me about writing has served me well for forty years: (because it was so long ago, this is a paraphrase) "If you're going to write, buy the best typewriter money can buy. It's something you're going to be spending a lot of time with, so make that part as easy on yourself as you can."
New York, New York
Photographer, writer, teacher
— Rhyder McClure. Email to John F. Barber, 8 April 2004.
Monday, 26 February 1968
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading at the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 330 Ellis Street at Taylor.
The event, called "Affirming the World Is the Thing," was designed to raise money for "A.F.T. strike fund" (American Federation of Teachers and "student strike fund" (San Fransisco State University).
The 13" x 19.5" silkscreened promotional poster featured heliotrope and olive green graphics and print on a heavy, cream-colored papers.
The twelve advertised poets included (in their order of appearance on the poster) John Logan, Joshua Bunce, Thom Gunn, Bill Anderson, Richard Brautigan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Muriel Rukeyser, Denis Levertov, Michael McClure, Kay Boyle, Robert Duncan, and Dennis Beall. Also present was Elizabeth Bishop, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and former Poet Laureate of the United States.
Brautigan read the following poems:
Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt
A Witch and a 6 Pack of Double Century Ale
Chosen by Beauty to Be a Handmaiden of the Stars
Critical Can Opener
She Sleeps This Very Evening in Greenbrook Castle
30 Cents, Two Transfers, Love
Lions Are Growing like Yellow Roses on the Wind
Mrs. Myrtle Tate, Movie Projectionist
In Her Sweetness Where She Folds My Wounds
Feasting and Drinking Went on Far into the Night (with false start; laughs and says "Cut," "Take Two," and then begins reading again)
The Net Wt. of Winter Is 6.75 Ozs.
Biographer Brett C. Millier provides the following account of Bishop's participation.
"She read twice in San Francisco, once at the Museum of Modern Art and once at Glide Memorial, the so-called hippy church, in a benefit for striking teachers at San Francisco State University. Elizabeth said she did the reading out of curiosity rather than political commitment; she had never seen Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Richard Brautigan, Kay Boyle or any of the other famous San Francisco poets and wanted to know what they were like. She smoked a little marijuana at the reading and decided she liked Brautigan, but 'in general, I'm afraid, I'm just a member of the eastern establishment of everyone here and definitely passé. I don't mind. I thought that Thom [Gunn]'s poems and mine were the best!—the rest were propaganda that takes me back to my college days and the WPA theatre and so on—propaganda, or reportage of all-too-familiar events'" (Millier, Brett C. Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It. University of California Press, 1993, pp. 412-413.)
When Bishop attended/participated in this reading she was living in San Francisco, 1559 Pacific Avenue, with Suzanne Bowen. Bishop lived in San Francisco from 1968 to 1970. (Millier, Brett C. Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993. 399-431.)
Xiaojing, Zhou. "The Oblique, The Indirect Approach": Elizabeth Bishop's "Rainy Season; Sub-Tropics." Chicago Review 40(4) Fall 1994: 75-92.
Reviews Elizabeth Bishop's prose poem "Rainy Season; Sub-Tropics" as the poet's response to the excesses of confessional poetry. Notes Millier's discussion of Bishop's two visits to San Francisco in 1968 (79).
Feedback from Ken Keiran
"Thanks to eBay I've got a mono half track reel to reel recording from February 1968 at the Glide Memorial Auditorium in San Fransisco. It not only has Brautigan, but also Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and other poets reading for a benefit for the American Federation of Teachers Strike Fund and The San Fransisco State and Student Bail Funds. Richard's portion is about 10 minutes long."
— Ken Keiran. Email to John F. Barber, 10 July 2008.
Thursday, 29 February 1968
Brautigan, together with the Rapid Reproduction Company, a commercial offset lithography business, released a broadside entitled "One Day Marriage Certificate." The broadside was planned for the cartoonist Al Capp inspired Sadie Hawkins Day celebration planned this day in Golden Gate Park. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1968 > poem title.
Friday, 1 March 1968
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading at the University Methodist Church, Isla Vista, California.
Brautigan allegedly on the guest list for a party honoring Charles Slack, a former Harvard University colleague of Timothy Leary, at Leary's house, 1230 Queens Road, in Berkeley, California. (Greenfield, Robert. Timothy Leary: A Biography. Harcourt, 2006, p. 337)
Thursday, 9 May 1968
Brautigan gave two readings at Stanford University, Stanford, California (near Palo Alto). The first, scheduled that afternoon, was for undergraduate; the second, that evening, was for graduate students in the Advanced Fiction Writing class. A poster featuring a line drawing of Brautigan holding a fish in his lap, noting him as "the greatest American comic novelist in three decades" promoted the readings. At the graduate reading, Brautigan shared several stories, including The Ghost Children of Tacoma, Revenge of the Lawn, and a story then and still unpublished called "Key to the Frogs of South-Western Australia." See Stories > Unpublished > 1968 > story title.
Brautigan wrote a short story "An Apartment on Telegraph Hill" in which the narrator (a thinly disguised Brautigan himself) dreamed of having a girlfriend with a nice apartment on Telegraph Hill, in North Beach. The story remains unpublished. See Stories > Unpublished > 1968 > story title.
Brautigan's story seems to come true when he met Valerie Estes, who invited him to read his work at an art festival in Washington Square Park, planned by KQED radio in San Francisco. Brautigan did not participate in the festival, but he and Estes quickly began a relationship and Brautigan moved into her apartment on Kearny Street, in North Beach, on the slope of Telegraph Hill.
Feedback from V. Vale,
"In my younger years I slightly knew Richard Brautigan, mainly because I worked as a clerk at the front cash register cockpit at City Lights Books. I also managed a small apartment building in North Beach (where Philip Lamantia lived, above me) and Valerie Estes lived next door to me. Valerie and Richard began "dating" some time in 1967. I once went with Richard and Valerie to Marin County's Mount Tamalpais (he loved the acacia trees in bloom—bright yellow) . . ."
— V. Vale. Email to John F. Barber, 17 January 2006.
V. Vale (originally Vale Hamanaka) was the organ player for the first iteration of Blue Cheer, a San Francisco rock band of the era. Rock music legend notes that Hamanaka and Blue Cheer parted company when, after seeing Jimi Hendrix perform at the Monterey Pop Festival, band members Leigh Stephens, Dickie Peterson, and his brother, Jerry, decided to move the band toward a heavy power blues sound. Vale founded the magazine Search & Destroy in 1977 with a $200.00 donation from Allen Ginsburg to document the then current punk music subculture. In 1980 he founded RE/Search Publications which has published a variety of magazines and books focusing on modern primatives and other underground topics. Vale currently works as editor and publisher for his RE/Search imprint and frequently contributes to other publications.
The apartment building Vale describes was located at 1427 (now 1429) Kearny Street. Vale lived in the apartment building with his girlfriend of the time, Thea, an artist who made a couch in the shape of a giant pair of red lips. In addition to Lamantia, the building was also home to Nancy Peters of City Lights and other North Beach notables. The building is noted in The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary Tour (Bill Morgan. City Lights Books, 2003, p. 16).
Estes says she met Brautigan in the June 1968 (not 1967 as according to Vale) when she interviewed him as a potential participant in an arts program she was organizing. They became involved soon after. She and Brautigan lived together in her Kearny Street apartment off and on until they ended their relationship in 1970. Brautigan kept his Geary Street apartment throughout, and sometimes lived there.
8-14 June 1968
Brautigan participated in "Rolling Renaissance: San Francisco Underground Art Celebration: 1945-1968." The celebration was held in San Francisco galleries, museums, theaters, and nightclubs and featured painting, sculpture, dance, films, poetry, music, drama, lectures, photography, environments, and memorabilia. Poetry readings were offered at Nourse Auditorium and Glide Church.
Participating poets included: Richard Brautigan, Robert Duncan, John Weiners, David Meltzer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Patchen, Allen Ginsberg, Lew Welch, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Joel Waldman, Allen Cohen, Phyllis Whalen, Patrick Gleason, Kenneth Rexroth, Brother Antoninus [William Everson], Al Young, Laughing Water, Richard Krech, Hillary Fowler, John Simon, John Thompson, James Koller, Jack Thibeau, Sister Mary Norbet Korte, Phyllis Harris, and Daniel Moore.
Monday, 10 June 1968
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 330 Ellis Street at Taylor, and Brautigan read poetry along with James Koller, Robert Dawson, Patrick Gleeson, Joel Waldman, Michael McClure, and Daniel Moore.
Friday, 14 June 1968
Brautigan participated in "San Francisco Poetry" at the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, 330 Ellis Street at Taylor. The participants, in order as listed on the promotional poster, included Lenora Kandel, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, David Meltzer, William Fritsch (aka Sweet Willie Tumbleweed), Richard Brautigan, Joanne Kyger, Andrew Hoyem, Robert Dawson, Daniel Moore, Keith Abbott, James Keller, Kirby Doyle, dma, Patrick Gleeson, and Pamela Millward.
This "open-mic" event, along with four other programs, was recorded and broadcast on KPFA, San Francisco, California. In order as they were recorded were Brautigan (who read Mouths That Kissed in the Hot Ashes of Pompeii), James Koller, Robert Dawson, Patrick Gleeson, Joel Waldman, Michael McLure, Jack Thibeau, Sister Mary Norbert Korte, Andrew Hoyem, The Unknown Buffalo Poet, Phyllis Harris, Phillip Whalen, John Weiners, "a poet unknown to us," Allen Cohen, "a close friend of Jack Gilbert; we do not know his name," "the next poet is unknown," David Meltzer, and Daniel Moore.
Brautigan received an invitation from William P. Wreden, a San Francisco rare book and manuscript dealer, to write an introduction for the diary of a cross-country journey by Joseph Francl to the California gold fields. Wreden planned to published in a limited edition the 114-year old manuscript. Brautigan's accepted the invitation, and his introduction The Overland Journey of Joseph Francl and the Eternal Sleep of His Wife Antonia in Crete, Nebraska was included in The Overland Journey of Joseph Francl: The First Bohemian to Cross the Plains to the California Gold Fields, published December 1968. The essay was collected and republished in The Tokyo-Montana Express.
Brautigan received an invitation from Gordon Ray, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, inviting him to apply for a Fellowship. Brautigan was nominated by Josephine Miles, professor of English at University of California Berkeley. Brautigan submitted his application in the fall 1968. He listed Miles, Kay Boyle, Herb Gold, and Stephen Schneck as his references. Brautigan completed and submitted the application for this, his second, application for the Guggenheim Fellowship. For his proposed project, Brautigan wrote, "I would like to finish a book of short stories." The summary of his education read, "I have no education that can be listed here." As for his career, Brautigan wrote, " . . . it doesn't seem like a career to me at all. It's just what I do with my life and what I choose to write about and what happens then." In conclusion, Brautigan noted his greatest satisfaction was "writing and putting together 5,000 copies of a book of poems printed on seed packets. The book is called Please Plant This Book, and it was given away free. There are now thousands of gardens growing from this book, and that pleases me."
Brautigan received a $500 award under the Literary Anthology Program of the National Endowment for the Arts for his poem It's Raining in Love. The program was established in 1966 to provide greater exposure to works that originally appeared in small magazines. Robert Duncan and Anne Sexton were the final poetry judges this year, and selected Brautigan's poem as one of twenty-nine to receive awards.
Valerie Estes and Brautigan spent a week together in Kirkwood Meadows. Brautigan fished the trout streams while Estes read.
"In August 1968, two months after meeting, Richard and I spent a week in what was then a High Sierra paradise on Highway 89 called Kirkwood Meadows. At the time, I was working for a North Beach friend, Barden Stevenot, who was developing the site to be the major ski resort it now is. Barden invited us to come for a week.
"Kirkwood was a pristine meadow with very few structures except for the old tavern in which we stayed, which was also one of the last existing Pony Express way stations. The valley was said to have the highest density of wildflowers of any Sierra meadow. And it also had trout streams.
"In the mornings, Richard and I would go off to fish. He worked the
stream as I sat on a granite boulder and read. He taught me how to clean
the fish—'just like a little envelope'—and, at night, we would fry them
up for our group supper with Bart and his girlfriend of the time, Diana
Bell Chickering. Richard was very good at cooking the fish, as well as
his famed pasta sauce, but he refused to eat any. A trout never passed
— Valerie Estes. Email to John F. Barber, 5 February 2007.
Monday, 5 August 1968
Brautigan applied for, and received, a California fishing license. His stated address was 2546 Geary Street, San Francisco, California.
Valerie Estes recounts a story involving Brautigan, cats, Loren Sears, and Pat Ferraro.
"I met one of my closest friends, Pat Ferrero, because of Richard and a cat. At the time (fall of 1968, I think), I had a young Siamese cat named Xenobia, after the Queen of Palmyra in what is now Syria. (I'm very fond of warrior women.) [Xenobia was given to me as a Christmas present in 1967 by my ex-husband, Bob Morrill, whom I left 1 September 1967.] Zenobia came into heat.
"Richard was collaborating with an independent film maker, Loren Sears, who was working with KQED-TV in San Francisco on experimental visual projects. [See below.] Loren and his wife at the time, Pat Ferrero Sears (she's gone back to her maiden name), had a male Siamese cat named Brewster. Richard told me that Xenobia and Brewster would be a good pair, so we arranged a 'date.' Richard and I took Zenobia to Pat and Loren's flat in the Marina, on Fillmore just south of Union, for lunch for the homo sapiens and a "date" for the felines. (I don't know how we got there. I didn't have a car at the time, and Richard never drove. We usually took buses or hitchhiked.)
"Richard and Loren, as is the wont of many males, went off to talk about
important things, leaving Pat and me in the kitchen. (She had served us
tasty tuna fish sandwiches.) Pat and I discovered each other and are
still the closest of friends. (She has gone on to become an
internationally-recognized documentary filmmaker.) Xenobia stayed for a
few days.The date produced lovely kittens, and they mated a second time.
(I sold the first litter and gave away the second. Once I got a call
from the 'mother' of one of the kittens, telling me how wonderful that
cat had become.) And Richard and Loren went on to their respective
— Valerie Estes. Email to John Barber, 27 April 2006.
Loren Sears, was Artist In Residence, The Experimental Project, 1967-1968 at KQED-TV, San Francisco. He was one of five artists paid to explore artistic aspects of television in KQED studios. This residency was funded through Rockefeller and National Endowment grants. Later, Sears directed several broadcast shows for KQED, 1968. He produced a museum-wide video installation as part of a performance for the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1969.
Western Connecticut State College maintains a Loren Sears Biography webpage.
Brautigan was contacted by Barry Miles on behalf of Apple Records, asking if he were interested in working on a spoken word album. Brautigan responded that he was very interested and offered to provide a tape of himself reading his poem, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster. The eventual outcome of this initial contact was the release of Brautigan's record album, Listening to Richard Brautigan.
Tuesday, 19 November 1968
In Watermelon Sugar was written four years earlier, between 13 May and 19 July 1964. Like Brautigan's earlier novels, and some that followed, this one featured an unnamed first person narrator who spoke in a colloquial voice not always conscious of being heard and a photograph of Brautigan on the front cover with a young woman. Another common theme was the sense of solitude and incapacity.
Brautigan's story What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees? was first published in the December 1968 issue of Evergreen Review. The story was illustrated with photographs by Erik Weber.
Inspired by an obituary in a September 1968 edition the San Francisco Examiner, Brautigan wrote the poem Mrs. Myrtle Tate, Movie Projectionist which he self-published in an innovative publishing performance called The San Francisco Public Library: A Publishing House, 5 December 1968.
Saturday, 21 December 1968
Brautigan's stories Crazy Old Women Are Riding the Buses of America Today, Fame in California, and A Need for Gardens" were first published in the 21 December 1968 issue of Rolling Stone. The title "Fame in California" was changed to "Fame in Californina/1964" when it was collected in The Revenge of the Lawn.
Jann Werner, editor of The Rolling Stone, contacted Brautigan and asked him to contribute stories for publication. Despite the fact that his magazine generally sought free submissions from authors, Werner offered to pay Brautigan $35.00 per story.
On the recommendation of Stephen Schneck, Helen Brann, at the Sterling Lord agency, New York, contacted Brautigan and offered to act as his literary agent.
Brautigan was becoming famous and desirable to those wanting to spend time in his presence. Wendy Werris describes a brief affair with Brautigan in her memoir of her life in the book business, An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books (Carroll and Graff, 2006, pp. 51-54).
Working for Rolling Stone/Straight Arrow Books in San Francisco, Werris met Brautigan at Enrico's in North Beach. Brautigan was disheveled and intoxicated. Despite this, she writes, "I was enchanted" (Ferris 51). READ this essay.
Feedback from Wendy Werris
"I was 24 years old at the time, and had always been a big fan of Brautigan's work. I'd read all his books to that point, and was just overwhelmed when I met him. He had an umistakably powerful presence, regardless of his drunken state."
— Wendy Werris. Email to John F. Barber, 21 April 2007.
Highlights: First collected works published . . . Participates in poetry readings and conferences . . . Nineteen stories appeared in Rolling Stone magazine . . . Awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship.
Thursday, 30 January 1969
Brautigan shared the same birthday with V. Vale, who lived in the same apartment building as Valerie Estes. They all agreed on a shared birthday party, with guests free to wander between their apartments. Janis Joplin, Bill Brown, Lew Welch, Emmett Grogan, Dr. John Doss, and many others attended.
Feedback from V. Vale
"Richard and I shared the same birthday party in the year 1969. Janis Joplin attended and got very drunk. Richard used to come to City Lights fairly often and tell me about the latest movie he'd seen, usually at a 99 cent theater on Market Street. I can only recall The Drowning Pool and, Where's Poppa? He liked them best."
— V. Vale. Email to John F. Barber, 17 January 2006.
Feedback from Valerie Estes
"When I met Richard, I was living at what is now 1429 Kearny Street, Apartment 1. (At that time, it was 1427 Kearny Street. The numbering was changed when the building was remodeled around 1970.) Another tenant of the building was the former keyboardist of the Blue Cheer rock group, V. Vale, who now runs RE/search Publications in North Beach with his wife Marian Wallace. Although Vale's apartment address was on Genoa Place, the alley to the west which parallels Kearny Street, we all lived in the same building in effect since our back doors all emptied into the central air shaft and garbage chute.
Though years apart in age, Richard and Vale shared a birthday, January 30, so we decided to have a joint birthday party. Basically, it was an open house, with people coming in from both Kearny and Genoa and wandering between the two apartments. Folks who came included Janis Joplin and Emmett Grogan of the Diggers. As was often true, Janis was drunk and looking for more Southern Comfort, and Emmett was trying to score heavy-duty dope. (Neither Richard nor I were into dope, not even marijuana. Alcohol was our drug of choice.)
I'm not sure that a good time was had by all.
— Valeries Estes. Email to John F. Barber, 5 February 2007.
Barry Miles arrived in San Francisco for his first meeting with Brautigan regarding an album of spoken voice to be produced by Miles for Apple Records. Miles stayed at Brautigan's Geary Street apartment and coordinated the recording of what Brautigan called "the sounds of my life in San Francisco." The sounds of Brautigan undressing, bathing, talking on the telephone, shaving, and turning off a light switch were included on the Listening to Richard Brautigan record album, released in 1970.
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading at the United Methodist Church, 892 Camio Del Sur, Isla Vista, California. The reading was sponsored by the Unicorn Book Shop, 905 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, California, near the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus. Jack Shoemaker managed the Unicorn and co-founded North Point Press, Counterpoint, and Shoemaker & Hoard. Shoemaker invited Brautigan to participate in the Spring Renaissance Faire, 7-10 April.
Brautigan was invited to conduct a two-week prose workshop and give one reading at the Creative Arts Conference, to be sponsored by the United States International University (California Western), in San Diego, in August. His contract offered a $1,200.00 fee, lodging, and discounted meals in the university dining hall.
Brautigan's application for a Guggenheim Fellowship was denied. This was his second application for the award. The first was in 1965.
Saturday, 1 February 1969
Brautigan's story A Short History of Oregon was first published in the 1 February 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Saturday, 15 February 1969
Brautigan's story I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone was first published in the 15 February 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Saturday, 1 March 1969
Brautigan's story Holiday in Germany was first published in the 1 March 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Thursday, 6 March 1969
During an evening of drinking with poet Gary Snyder, Brautigan wrote the poem Third Eye as an improvised Zen tribute to his friend.
Tuesday, 11 March 1969
Brautigan wrote to Barry Miles with his decision for the title of his forthcoming record album with Apple Records: Listening to Richard Brautigan. Brautigan wanted two black and white photographs on the album cover: one of himself, the other of Valerie Estes.
Wednesday, 12 March 1969
Brautigan and Valerie Estes traveled together to Albuquerque, New Mexico. From there, Brautigan and Estes traveled to Santa Fe where they stayed with Bunny Conlon and her brother, Al Eylar.
Thursday, 13 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes met Professor Charles G. Bell who ran the poetry reading program at the Santa Fe campus of St. John's College. Bell arranged for Brautigan to give a reading at St. John's the following Monday, 17 March.
In the meantime, Brautigan and Estes, driving Eylar's car, drove to the Los Alamos Research Laboratories. The visit inspired Brautigan's poem The Sister Cities of Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hiroshima, Japan. Beyond Los Alamos, Brautigan and Estes visited Bandelier National Monument before driving to Grants, where Brautigan wanted to visit the radiation laboratory.
Friday, 14 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes visited Acoma Pueblo.
Saturday, 15 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes visited Chaco Canyon and Pueblo Bonito before arriving in Cuba, New Mexico, where they spent the night.
Brautigan's story Forgiven was first published in the 15 March issue of Rolling Stone.
Sunday, 16 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes were invited to lunch with author William Eastlake and his guest, Lucia Berlin. After lunch, Brautigan and Estes drove to Taos, New Mexico, where Brautigan wrote the poem All Girls Should Have a Poem and dedicated it to Estes.
Monday, 17 March 1969
Brautigan gave a reading at St. John's College, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Tuesday, 18 March 1969
Brautigan, Estes, and Conlon drove to Abiquiú, New Mexico, where Brautigan attempted to present Georgia O'Keeffe with a copy of his poetry collection Please Plant This Book. At an adobe O'Keeffe maintained, Brautigan gave a copy of the book to a woman who answered his knock at the front door, not knowing whether or not the woman was O'Keefe.
Wednesday-Thursday, 19-20 March 1969
Conlon returned to her home in Washington, D.C. while Brautigan and Estes traveled to Placitas, New Mexico, where they visited with Robert Creeley and his wife, writer Bobbie Louise Hawkins.
Friday, 21 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes returned to Albuquerque, and flew to Los Angeles. Brautigan met with George Osaki in the art department of Apple Records. Brautigan selected the photograph to appear on the record album cover and agreed to write a publicity release. Brautigan insisted on final approval of all details related to the production of the record album, Listening to Richard Brautigan.
Saturday, 22 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes flew to New York, where they stayed at the Chelsea Hotel, popular with artists, musicians, and writers. They dined that evening with poets Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh, the founders and editors of Angel Hair literary magazine from 1966-1969.
Sunday, 23 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes traveled by train to Washington, D.C., where they stayed with Bunny Conlon in her home. They all toured the Civil War battlefields around Washington, D. C.
Monday, 24 March 1969
Brautigan and Estes traveled by train to Boston, Massachusetts. They stayed with Ron Lewinsohn who had arranged a reading for Brautigan the following evening, March 25.
Tuesday, 25 March 1969
During the day, Brautigan and Estes visited Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, and Walden Pond. That evening, Brautigan delivered a reading at The Quincy Poetry Forum at Harvard University's Quincy House Dining Hall, 8:30 PM. Admission was $1.00. The announcement for the reading was printed in black ink on a white, letter-sized piece of paper.
Brautigan's friend, poet Ron Loewinsohn, arranged the reading. Years later, Loewinsohn recalled the reading for Peter Manso and Michael McClure who coauthored an article in the May 1985 issue of Vanity Fair titled "Brautigan's Wake."
"RON LOEWINSOHN: He read at Harvard, and I introduced him at Quincy House [The Quincy Poetry Forum, Quincy House Dining Room, 25 March 1969, 8:30 PM] where he gave a fine, straight reading—poems, stories, chatted a little. Six months, a year later he came back, but by then he was so big, so famous, that there must have been seven hundred people in Lowell Lecture Hall. After reading for about fifteen minutes in a disdainful, contemptuous tone, he just quit. People came up to him for his autograph, and he'd tell them, 'Fuck off.'"
Brautigan's second reading at Harvard University was on Saturday, 22 November 1969. Jeffrey S. Golden attended the reading and had quite a different reaction than Loewinsohn. His review appeared in the Wednesday, 26 November 1969 issue of the The Harvard Crimson.
Wednesday, 26 March 1969
From Boston, Brautigan and Estes traveled back to New York, by morning train, and reestablished themselves at the Chelsea Hotel. That evening, Brautigan gave a reading at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. The reading had been arranged by Anne Waldman while Brautigan was in New York a few days prior.
Thursday, 27 March 1969
Brautigan met with Helen Brann, his new literary agent, and his new publisher, Seymour Lawrence, who had won the auction arranged by Brann to publish Brautigan's books. There was no formal contract between Brann and Brautigan until she started her own agency, the Helen Brann Agency, in December 1973. As a representative of the Sterling Lord agency, she negotiated with Lawrence to publish Brautigan's first collected work, the hardback omnibus edition of Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, In Watermelon Sugar. Brann asked for a $20,000 advance against royalties for Brautigan along with very generous royalties for sales of individual copies of his books. In the afternoon, Brautigan and Estes flew back to San Francisco, Brautigan's literary career apparently off to a tremendous start.
Saturday 5 April 1969
Brautigan's story Elmira was first published in the 5 April 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Monday 7 April 1969
Apparently, a bad day for Brautigan, judging from his poem April 7, 1969
Thursday 10 April 1969
Brautigan began a book reading tour at Cañada College, near Redwood City, California, south of San Francisco. He spent the morning in Palo Alto with Ed McClanahan and Gurney Norman, both writers. Both were connected to Midpeninsula Free University, an experiment in alternative education near Stanford University. He gave permission for All Girls Should Have a Poem to be published in the semi-annual catalog of course offerings.
Brautigan gave a reading in the Cañada College auditorium in the afternoon. After the reading, he was driven to the airport for a flight to Santa Barbara, where he was scheduled to close The First Annual Spring Rennaissance Faire with a reading.
Brautigan participated in the Spring Renaissance Faire, Isla Vista, Goleta, California. The "faire" ran from Monday, 7 April-Thursday, 10 April 1969. Brautigan's reading was scheduled for 8:00 pm, Thursday, April 10 in the University Methodist Church, 892 Camio Del Sur, and was the faire's concluding event. Other San Francisco poets participating in the "faire" were Lew Welch, David Meltzer, Jack Shoemaker, Gary Snyder, and Brother Antoninus [William Everson]. The handbill announcing the schedule of events and participants was printed in black ink on purple stock.
Friday, 11 April 1969
Brautigan gave a short reading (and was paid $100) at Santa Barbara City College.
Feedback from Jim Brown
"I did not "discover" Richard Brautigan until 1967 or 1968. At the time, I was a student at Humboldt State looking through a box of books at a yard sale near campus. As an avid fisherman, the title Trout Fishing in America caught my eye and the 35 cent price was manageable.
"That night, I began reading through it and was floored by his writing, particularly his use of the metaphor. From that point on, I began introducing Brautigan to everyone I knew, conducting my wine/weed readings of his work in my apartment, at parties, in parks, on beaches and in tents. Eventually, the binding on that first edition copy failed and the only way I could keep it together was with a rubber band around it and inside of a plastic bag.
"After the school year, I returned home to San Diego where I finished college at San Diego State. Among those I'd introduced to Brautigan was a girl I'd dated and who had gone to college at UCSB [University of California Santa Barbara]. She called to tell me that Brautigan was going to be giving a reading at Santa Barbara City College and invited me to join her, which I did. The reading was in a classroom and I was surprised that there were only 15-20 people on hand. Brautigan arrived with files and papers in one hand and a large brown paper grocery bag cradled in his other arm. After setting them down, he introduced himself, thanked us for coming and began to read from what he described as a combination of published as well as unpublished material.
"After about five minutes, he stopped reading and looked up at an overhead ventilation vent that creaked through his reading and asked. 'Does anyone know how to turn that fucking thing off?' When it was clear that no one did and that the flipping of the switches on the wall near the door controlled only the lights, he asked if anyone minded if we moved from the classroom to an adjacent outdoor courtyard, which we did, and sat in a circle as he suggested.
"After reading a few pages in the dimly lit but pleasant setting, he paused again, reached for the brown paper bag and removed a one gallon jug of red wine that was not Red Mountain, the preferred student beverage of the time. Seems to me the wine was a Cribari zinfandel. He asked that we tighten the circle a bit for easier passing and sharing of the wine, which we did. By this time a few of those who I suspect were present as a class assignment had departed, leaving a core of 10-12 of us sitting, listening and sharing that jug of wine with him.
"I would guess that all told, we were there for about two hours and he came across as very kind and charming. When it was over, he stood up, smiled and walked off into the Santa Barbara night.
"Sometime later (August of 1969 thanks to your chronology) I heard that Brautigan was involved in a workshop at United States International University (where I later taught), which was then located on the old Cal Western (now Point Loma Nazarene) campus on Point Loma, which overlooked San Diego Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Desperate to meet my idol, I drove to the campus and managed only to find that an office he was using temporarily was vacant.
"I left a long note of praise, including my phone number and an invitation to take him to Pauma Creek on Palomar Mountain, a genuine 'telephone booth' stream with wild trout in a setting few would believe existed in Southern California. Much to my pleasure, the phone at our house rang and Brautigan left a message with my mother that he would be available to visit the stream the next day if I could pick him up at the time and place he indicated. I arrived at the spot early that morning and waited . . . and waited. Brautigan never appeared or called again.
"Many years later I told this story and of my disappointment to someone who had been involved with the workshop at that time and was told that Brautigan had discovered a couple of bars he favored in the nearby Peoples Republic of Ocean Beach and had most likely found an arrangement preferable to a long early morning ride up a dusty truck trail followed by a steep hike into a canyon stream.
"I continued to follow his career as closely as possible and some years later, I was camping and Steelhead fishing in the Seiad Valley of the Klamath River. I knew this was Brautigan country and by the light of my hissing Coleman Lantern made a point of reading Trout Fishing in America cover to cover for the umpteenth time, and took the time to find Tom Martin Creek.
"On my way out of the area and just beginning the trip home, I stopped at an isolated roadside store and paused at the newspaper rack long enough to see a front page headline and story reporting that Richard Brautigan was dead. In disbelief, I paid for a copy (don't know if it was the Chronicle or Examiner, but I still have it in a box somewhere) returned to my van to read it and sobbed.
"I had understood that Brautigan had alienated many of his friends, with
most blaming his alcoholism. For a time, I irrationally felt guilt that
if we had just connected during his visit to San Diego, that I could
have been the kind of friend who would have made for a different
— Jim Brown. Email to John F. Barber, 19 May 2013.
Saturday, 19 April 1969
Brautigan's story The View from the Dog Tower was first published in the 19 April 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Tuesday, 13 May 1969
Brautigan flew from San Francisco to Durham, North Carolina, where he gave a reading a Duke University. On the trip he composed the poems Donner Party, Flight Handbook, and Late Starting Dawn all collected in Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt, and Fake Protien [sic] and Tongue Cemetary [sic], both of which remain unpublished (William Hjortsberg 369). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Friday, 16 May 1969
Brautigan traveled from Durham, North Carolina, to Chicago, Illinois, where he was scheduled to deliver a reading the following day.
Saturday, 17 May 1969
Brautigan's story A Complete Movie of Germany and Japan was first published in the 17 May 1969 issue of Rolling Stone. The title was changed to "A Complete History of Germany and Japan" when the story was collected in The Revenge of the Lawn.
Brautigan participated in a 3:00 p. m. "Prose and Poetry Reading" in Quantrell Auditorium at The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. The letter-sized green cardstock promotional poster announcing the event was illustrated by Scott Stampton. It was titled "To insure domestic tranquility." Brautigan was cited as an "Experimental Prose Writer and Poet." The illustrated letter-sized sheet was printed on one side, black ink on green cardstock. The event was sponsored by FOTA, Zahbel Fund of the English Department, Chicago Review, and the Roy Gutmann Memorial Fund.
Thursday, 29 May 1969
Brautigan participated in the First Commencement Exercises at The Urban School of San Francisco, 2938 Washington Street. The event, held "On the hill, Alta Plaza Park Jackson between Steiner and Scott streets" honored the school's first seventeen graduates. Brautigan, noted as a "poet-author," delivered a reading as the second item on the program. Following the program there were refreshments and touch football.
Saturday, 31 May 1969
Brautigan's story A Long Time Ago People Decided to Live in America was published in 31 May 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Monday, 2 June 1969
Brautigan participated in a Poetry Reading Benefit for People's Park at California Hall, 425 Polk Street, San Francisco, a large building owned by the German-American Association, two blocks from the Civic Center.
Saturday, 28 June 1969
Brautigan's story A Short Story about Contemporary Life in California was first published in the 28 June 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Sunday, 20 July 1969
Watching the Apollo 11 moon landing with Valerie Estes and friends Fritzi and Michael Drooth, at their apartment, Brautigan was impressed by the television image of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin footprints in the lunar dust, the first ever on the moon's surface. He wrote the draft of the poem Jules Verne Zucchini in response, contrasting the lunar mission with starvation on Earth.
Brautigan participated, with Lew Welch, in a reading of their work at the San Quentin prison. In a letter to Terence Cuddy, a prisoner, dated Monday, 1 September 1969, Welch wrote: "Richard and I both feel it was one of the warmest and [most] intelligent audiences we've ever had" (Welch 158).
Saturday, 9 August 1969
Brautigan's story The Memory of a Girl was first published in the 9 August 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Monday-Friday, 18-29 August 1969
Brautigan was hired to direct classes in creative writing during the twelve-day Creative Arts Conference sponsored by United States International University, San Diego, California. Prior to 1968 United States International University was known as California Western. The 8.5" x 12" poster/handbill advertising the conference featured a photograph by Edmund Shea of Brautigan. Brautigan was paid a $1,200 speaker's fee, and given the use of a suite without a kitchen on campus. Meals were available on campus at a 20 percent discount.
The Conference was a twelve-day series of lectures by ten artists and writers including Don Carpenter, Stephen Schneck, Michael McClure, Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn; filmmakers James Blue, Mike Ahnemann, Denis Sanders, and Jim Morrison of The Doors, scheduled to screen Feast of Friends. Brautigan's scheduled appearance was 22 August 1969. Brautigan did not read his work or talk. Instead, he stood at the back of hall, operating a projector containing slides of punctuation marks prepared at Brautigan's request by Edmund Shea. This was one of Brautigan's several teaching or conference experiences.
While at the conference, Brautigan met and befriended Roxy and Judy Gordon. He visited the Gordons in Austin, Texas, in August 1970. Brautigan's poem Autobiography (Polish It like a Piece of Silver), collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, contains a reference to Judy Gordon and Byrds, a town in central Texas, near Brownwood. Two poems, A Study in Roads and Stone (real, both collected in June 30th, June 30th, contain references to Bee Caves, Texas, a small town twelve miles west of Austin. Brautigan may have visited Bee Caves with the Gordons. Brautigan dedicated his novel Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt to Roxy and Judy Gordon. Roxy Gordon, in turn, dedicated his book, Some Things I Did (The Encino Press, 1971) to Brautigan.
Saturday, 6 September 1969
Brautigan's story Women When They Put Their Clothes On in the Morning was first published in the 6 September 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Saturday, 20 September 1969
Brautigan's story Pale Marble Movie was first published in the 20 September 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
Friday-Sunday, 10-12 October 1969
Brautigan was a participating author at the College of Marin Writers' Conference, held at the College of Marin, Marin, California. The College of Marin was a small liberal arts college north of San Francisco. Also scheduled were Kay Boyle, Josephine L. Miles, Herbert Wilner, Jessamyn West, William Dickey, William Stafford, and Carolyn Kizer. Brautigan conducted a seminar, "On Writing," Saturday morning. That evening, at 8:00 PM, he read his work with Stafford and Miles. The program for the event was a letter-sized sheet sheet of green paper, folded in thirds, printed on both sides in green and white ink.
Brautigan called actor Rip Torn in New York, and invited him on a fishing trip with himself and Price Dunn to Deer Creek in Big Sur, California. Brautigan knew Torn from an earlier meeting in San Francisco and a fishing trip they took together to Stinson Beach, California. Torn, his wife, the actress Geraldine Page, and their three children flew to San Francisco. Geraldine and the children stayed behind while Brautigan, Dunn, and Torn went fishing. This fishing trip, full of drinking and bravado, was one of several shared by Brautigan and Torn, who wrote a memoir entitled, "Blunder Brothers: A Memoir" published in Seasons of the Angler, edited by David Seybold. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Torn.
Friday, 31 October 1969
Brautigan's collection of Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, In Watermelon Sugar was released by Delacorte Press. Brautigan was in Boston to help promote/celebrate the release of his first, and only, collected work.
While in Boston, Brautigan visited the Trout Fishing in America School, an experimental school spread among eight storefronts in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded by Peter Miller, a student in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Trout Fishing in America School offered courses in English, math, science, criminology, theories of revolution, motorcycle repair, and more. Tuition was $10.00 per month. Students could earn a high school diploma in learning environments far different from formal academic programs.
Saturday, 1 November 1969
Brautigan participated in a parade for the Trout Fishing in America School. Students, teachers, parents, and Brautigan, walked along Massachusetts Avenue, through Central and Harvard Squares, to Cambridge Commons.
In the time before his reading at Harvard University, scheduled for 22 November, Brautigan, Miller, and John Stickney, a reporter for Life magazine and a volunteer teacher of journalism at the Trout Fishing in America School, visited Walden Pond. Stickney was interested in writing an article for Life and wanted to collect material while he waited for approval.
Saturday, 22 November 1969
Brautigan gave a poetry reading in Lowell Lecture Hall, Harvard University. John Stickney included a description of this Harvard reading in his essay "Gentle Poet of the Young: A Cult Grows around Richard Brautigan." See References Studies > Stickney.
Peter Miller and several students from the Trout Fishing in America School attended the reading, along with students from Harvard. After a short reading of his work, Brautigan invited the audience to share their own readings.
Jeffrey S. Golden was present at Brautigan's reading and wrote a review for the The Harvard Crimson titled "Richard Brautigan On Saturday Night." READ this review.
Thanksgiving, November 1969
Brautigan spent the holiday with Robert Creeley and his wife, Bobbie Hawkins, at their home in Eden, New York, about fifteen miles south of Buffalo, where he was scheduled for a reading at SUNY Buffalo.
The reading was an interesting multimedia performance for Brautigan. Instead of speaking directly to the audience, Brautigan played the tape recordings produced for his upcoming record album, Listening to Richard Brautigan while he, in the auditorium projection booth, projected the slides of punctuation marks prepared for him by Edmund Shea. John Barth, faculty at SUNY—Buffalo, introduced Brautigan and later provided an account of Brautigan's "grand declaration."
"The author of Trout Fishing in America, The Revenge of the Lawn, and In Watermelon Sugar
was at the peak of his literary fame then, a hippie icon warmly
received on a campus that prided itself, in those years of antiwar
sit-ins and teargassing riot police, on being 'the Berkeley of the
East.' It was a time, too, when Marshall McLuhan, across the Niagara
River in Toronto, was warning us 'print-oriented bastards' that our
medium was moribund in the Electronic Global Village. In that spirit,
after my introduction, Brautigan said hello to the packed hall, pushed
the Play button on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder beside the lectern,
and disappeared into the auditorium's projection booth, from where—as
we all sat for a very long three-quarters of an hour listening to our
guest's recorded reading—the invisible author projected slides of giant
punctuation marks: five or ten minutes each of a comma, a semicolon, a
period, entirely without bearing on the taped recitation. Had it been
anybody but Brautigan, that audience would never have sat still for
it—but still we sat, until, when the eye-glazing hour was done at last,
the shaggy, beaming author reappeared from the projection booth,
gestured grandly toward the tape machine, and declared, 'There you have
it, folks: the twentieth century!' Whereat one of my seriously
avant-garde graduate students sitting nearby turned to me and muttered,
'Yup: about 1913'" (20).
(Barth, John. "'All Treees are Oak Trees...': Introductions to Literature." Poets & Writers Jan./Feb. 2004, pp. 19-26.)
Monday, 1 December 1969
Brautigan returned to San Francisco from Boston.
Saturday, 6 December 1969
Brautigan and Valerie Estes, with Lew Welch and Magda Cregg, attended the Rolling Stones free concert at the Altamont Speedway, east of San Francisco. During the concert 18-year old Meredith Hunter was killed by members of the San Francisco and Oakland Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, hired, for one hundred cases of beer, to provide security during the concert. Brautigan and Estes were backstage.
Highlights: Participates in poetry readings . . . Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt published . . . Records Listening to Richard Brautigan . . . Divorces Virginia Dionne Alder.
Brautigan began the year with financial success. His books were selling well, filling his bank account. His new friends Roxy and Judy Gordon moved to Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco. They spent lots of time with Brautigan, who visited Judy at the University of California hospital after the birth of their son, John Calvin Gordon.
Tuesday, 13 January 1970
Brautigan files petition seeking divorce from Virginia Dionne Alder. Brautigan and Alder married 8 June 1957, in Reno, Nevada. They separated Christmas Eve, 24 December 1962 in San Francisco, California. An interlocutory judgement was issued 17 February 1970; the final judgement 27 July 1970. The divorce petition was served by Valerie Estes (she and Brautigan were involved since June 1968) to Alder, who lived at this time with Tony Aste and their children at 17410 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, California.
Friday, 30 January 1970
Brautigan celebrated his thirty-fifth birthday at a party hosted by long-time personal friends John and Margot Doss at their home in San Francisco. The couple also owned a home in Bolinas, California, which Brautigan visited prior to his own purchase of a home there. John Doss was a San Francisco medical doctor. Margot Patterson Doss was a writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Both Helen Donlon ("Richard Brautigan: Shooting Up the Countryside."; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Donlon) and Lawrence Wright ("The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan."; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright) recount how Margot Doss allowed Brautigan to arrange the party, complete with fish drawing decorations and catering by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Lew Welch wrote a celebratory poem.
"January 30, 1970
On this very day, in 1889, Franklin
Delano Roosevelt was born. Had he lived,
He would now be 81 years old.
Would he have liked your books?
What present would he give you on
this mutual birthday?
A chest of California grapes?
Wednesday, 4 February 1970
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading and reception in Losekamp Hall at Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana.
Tuesday, 17 February 1970
An interlocutory judgement entered for Brautigan's divorce from Virginia Dionne Alder. The court ordered Alder control, care, and custody of Ianthe Brautigan, their daughter. Brautigan was granted visitation rights. Brautigan was ordered to pay $100 per month child support until Ianthe married or reached majority.
Brautigan traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, to approve, with literary agent Helen Brann and publisher Sam Lawrence, details for the forthcoming publication of Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt. He visited the Trout Fishing in America School in Cambridge, staying with founder Peter Miller and his girlfriend Kat.
Brautigan visited New York where he met Erik Weber and his wife, Lois. They were recently returned from their trip to India, by way of England, and were in New York visiting Lois' parents. Weber took several photographs of Brautigan visiting Helen Brann at the Sterling Lord agency. Brautigan and the Weber's flew to Boston where they met Ron Loewinsohn and visited the Trout Fishing in America School.
The Trout Fishing in America School was an experimental school based in two storefronts in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one at 353 Broadway, the other at 188 Prospect. Founded in 1969 by Peter Miller, a student in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Trout Fishing in America School offered courses in English, math, science, criminology, theories of revolution, motorcycle repair, and more. Tuition was $10.00 per month. Students could earn a high school diploma in learning environments far different from formal academic programs. The school was unable to maintain both storefronts and the Prospect Street location became the People's Gallery, a co-op darkroom and exhibit space, founded by Greg Hill, member of the Trout Fishing in America School Board of Directors, in 1970 and remained affiliated with the school until 1972. Brautigan visited both locations in 1969. A photograph, taken by Steve Hansen, appeared in John Stickney's Life magazine article "Gentle Poet of the Young: A Cult Grows around Richard Brautigan." (See References > Studies > Stickney). Weber took some photographs of Hansen photographing Brautigan.
Tuesday, 28 April 1970
Brautigan began a series of nineteen poetry readings at California colleges as part of a spring tour arranged by the California Poetry Reading Circuit, based in the English Department at the University of California. The tour began at University of California Berkeley after which Brautigan visited and delivered readings at several branches of the University of California (Irvine, Santa Cruz, Davis, Claremont, and Santa Barbara) as well as Stanford University, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, California Institute of Technology, Sacramento State University, and University of Southern California.
Following the reading at Berkeley, Brautigan met Jayne Palladino, a Ph.D. student in the comparative literature program, and recently divorced. Brautigan asked her to dinner at her apartment and she agreed to accept at a later date. This began a relationship that lasted for several years.
Wednesday, 29 April 1970
Brautigan gave a reading at Stanford University as part of the Poetry Reading Circuit.
Thursday, 30 April 1970
Brautigan's collection of poetry, Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt was released. The book was immediately successful going through five printings in as many months, with over 120,000 copies in print. Brautigan's contract stipulated a $35,000 advance against royalties, the entire amount to be paid 120 days after publication.
Two readings were scheduled on this, the third day of the California Poetry Reading Circuit, one at Sacramento State University, and another at the University of California Davis. Brautigan invited Peter Miller, visiting from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Price and Bruce Dunn, Paul Kantner, lead guitar player for Jefferson Airplane, and Rip Torn to accompany him to these readings, and whatever other adventures they might devise. Torn recounted the events in his essay, "Blunder Brothers: A Memoir" published in Seasons of the Angler, edited by David Seybold. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Torn.
Monday, 4 May 1970
Brautigan participated in the Sonoma State College Poetry Festival, Rohnert Park, California.
Thursday, 7 May 1970
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading at the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. Terry Link said Brautigan appeared just before 8:00 pm wearing "blue denim, a blue vest and a long blue scarf, almost like a priest's stole, considering the location." Although the audience was clearly interested, Brautigan refused to read any prose. He read current poetry, some written that morning including "Your Love," which was never collected. See Poetry Uncollected > poem title.
To the significant lack of response from the audience, Brautigan said, "For a while I thought I was reading in a mortuary. I guess a church is the same thing." He said "I don't think the purpose of a poet is to write good poetry but to work out the possibilities of language and the human condition." In the end, despite his definition of poetry as "language and spiritual mercury," there was little if any interaction between the poet and the audience (Terry Link 26; See Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork Reviews > Link).
One of the poems Brautigan read was Voluntary Quicksand, a reaction to the killing of four students at Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio, earlier in the day. National Guardsmen shot to death four students protesting the United States bombings of Cambodia on the Kent State campus. Brautigan wrote the poem after hearing news broadcasts about the killings.
Wednesday, 27 May 1970
The final stop on the California Poetry Reading Tour was University of California Santa Cruz where Brautigan participated with Lew Welch in what was called a "Poetry Diddey-Wah." The 9.5" x 14" handbill promoting the event featured an elaborate 1929 drawing by Beresford Egan of two elongated men and a mythological animal entitled "The Pleasure of Being Beaten." The black graphics and violet text were printed on heavy, tan paper.
late May 1970
Helen Brann negotiated a contract for Brautigan with Sam Lawrence and Dell Publishers for his newest novel, The Abortion and a yet unnamed (but soon to be called Revenge of the Lawn) collection of short stories. Brautigan was to receive $175,000 in advance of royalties for both books. Problems with the contract delayed its final settlement.
Thursday, 11 June 1970
Brautigan's poem "Your Love" was first published in an article by Terry Link entitled "Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork" in the 11 June 1970 issue of Rolling Stone. This poem was never collected. See Poetry > Uncollected > poem title.
John Stickney, a writer for Life magazine visited Brautigan in San Francisco. He stayed at Brautigan's Geary Street apartment, and traveled about the city with Brautigan and Valerie Estes. Stickney had received approval for his proposed article about Brautigan to be published in Life and was collecting material in earnest. Photographer Veron Merritt took several pictures of Brautigan.
Saturday, 18 July 1970
When he left his home in Eugene, Oregon, 12 June 1656(?), bound for San
Francisco, Brautigan cut off all contact with his family. His sisters
Barbara and Sandra Jean wrote him repeatedly over the years after he
left, attempting to reestablish contact. In late May 1970, Sandra J.
Stair, married to a soldier in Vietnam, wrote and pleaded for Brautigan
to respond. She wanted to talk with and see her brother again. She
begged Brautigan to understand. Brautigan sent this curt reply.
July 18, 1970
I appreciate your feelings toward me but many years have passed and all I can do is wish you a happy and rewarding life. I am sorry if this seems blunt and I am sorry if it causes you any pain. Again: thank you for your interest in me and I wish you good luck.
A photograph, included in a letter from Sandra shows her and Richard's half-brother, William David Folston.
Tuesday, 21 July 1970
Brautigan arrived in London, England, planning to spend the next two weeks involved with the English publication of his books. This was his first trip abroad. Robert Creeley and his wife Bobbie Hawkins, were in London at the same time and Brautigan spent several evenings with them, staying at their borrowed apartment rather than his room in the Ritz Hotel.
Thursday, 23 July 1970
Brautigan's story Greyhound Tragedy was first published in the 23 July 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.
Monday, 27 July 1970
Final judgement issued for the divorce between Brautigan and Virginia Dionne Alder
Friday, 14 August 1970
Brautigan featured in a LIFE magazine story, "Gentle Poet of the Young: A Cult Grows around Richard Brautigan," by John Stickney. The article was illustrated with three photographs by Vernon Merritt III and one by Steve Hansen. See References > Studies > Stickney.
The first photograph by Merritt shows Brautigan by the side of a swollen California creek.
The second photograph, by Steve Hansen, shows Brautigan in front of the Trout Fishing in America school with students and faculty. The communal free school in Cambridge, Massachussetts, was named after Brautigan's second published novel, Trout Fishing in America.
The third photograph, by Merritt, shows Brautigan and ten-year old daughter Ianthe strolling the streets of North Beach, San Francisco.
A photograph of Brautigan by Vernon Merritt III taken for but not used in the LIFE magazine story was used in a boxed trivia game titled LIFE Magazine Remembers issued by Time Life in 1985 (printed by Selchow & Righter). The game featured a set of 702 playing cards, each with a popular and/or famous photograph from the archives of LIFE magazine. Each card had a series of questions about the subject on the back side. The 3" x 5" Brautigan card was number 34 from the set.
Friday, 14 August 1970
Brautigan began his return trip to San Francisco, flying from London to New York. From there, he flew to Austin, Texas, where he visited with Roxy and Judy Gordon who had moved from Oakland, California, to look after a ranch near Bee Cave, twelve miles south of Austin. Two poems by Brautigan, A Study in Roads and Stone (real, both collected in June 30th, June 30th contain references to Bee Caves, Texas. A third poem, "Autobiography (Polish It like a Piece of Silver)," which contains a reference to Judy Gordon and Byrds, a town in central Texas, near Brownwood, was collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork. Brautigan dedicated Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt, published 30 April 1970, to Roxy and Judy Gordon.
While visiting the Gordons, Brautigan applied for and was issued a Texas fishing license (14 August 1970), which notes his height (6'4") and weight (165 pounds). Fee: $2.15.
In his essay, "Rare Bits & Pieces," Geoff Nicholson notes that Brautigan's Texas fishing license is part of artist Richard Prince's extraordinary collection of first editions and literary curios (Nicholson 2009). READ this essay.
Monday, 14 September 1970
Brautigan applied for, and received, a California fishing license. His stated address was 2546 Geary Street, San Francisco, California.
Brautigan's The Lost Chapters of Trout Fishing in America: 'Rembrandt Creek' and 'Carthage Sink' were first published in the October 1970 issue of Esquire. They were collected in Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
Brautigan posed for a series of photographs by Erik Weber to illustrate the publication of three stories in the December issue of Playboy magazine. This photograph shows Brautigan, lying on the bed in his 2546 Geary Street apartment, parodying the genre of the photographs that normally illustrate this magazine. This photograph was not used.
Ironically, Playboy had rejected nine stories by Brautigan in 1968. Brautigan, at the urging of friend Don Carpenter, sent these stories to his agent, Robert P. Mills, in New York, in January 1968. Mills sent the stories along to A. C. Spectorsky at Playboy (whom Carpenter had contacted directly via letter about Brautigan's forthcoming work). Spectorsky passed Brautigan's stories to Alan Ravage who rejected them early in February. Brautigan and Mills exchanged letters about this attempt to publish Brautigan's work. See Non-Fiction > Papers > The Robert Park Mills Papers.
Brautigan's record album, Listening to Richard Brautigan was released by Harvest Records.
The record album Paradise Bar and Grill by Mad River was released by Capital Records. Side 1, Band 3 featured Brautigan reading Love's Not The Way To Treat A Friend, a poem from Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt.
Brautigan participated with Gary Snyder and Robert Duncan in a poetry reading celebrating the opening of the University Art Museum at the University of California Berkeley in early November.
Three stories by Brautigan, Corporal, The Literary Life in California/1964, and Halloween in Denver were first published under the title "Little Memoirs: Three Tales by Richard Brautigan" in the December 1970 issue of Playboy. The stories were collected in Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
Highlights: Revenge of the Lawn published . . . The Abortion published . . . Reaches height of literary success . . . Buys home in Bolinas, California.
Brautigan reached the height of his literary success. "[R]ight now Brautigan is riding high. He is the Love Generation's answer to Charlie Schultz. Happiness is a warm hippie" (Jonathan Yardley 24; See The Abortion > Reviews > Yardley). But, Brautigan's success began to falter and continued to decline throughout the rest his life. He experimented with satires of different literary genres and critics lamented the loss of the vibrant, exuberant, youthful writing of his first three novels. He was troubled by alcoholism, insomnia, and paranoia throughout the rest of his life.
Brautigan traveled to the University of Texas in Austin for a one day reading. The event was arranged by his friends Roxy and Judy Gordon. From Austin, Brautigan flew to Boulder, Colorado, where he participated in a literary festival at the University of Colorado. The festival was to run four days, but Brautigan stayed only one before returning to San Francisco. These were his only college readings in 1971.
Brautigan may not have delivered a reading while in Boulder. Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn (published in 1968; sold more than five million copies), remembers a conference at the University of Colorado Boulder where Brautigan was to be the featured speaker. The next day, Brautigan was to participate in a panel discussion with Beagle and poet Charles Wright (The Grave of the Right Hand, 1970). Brautigan did not show for the panel, however, and Wright and Beagle improvised.
Feedback from Peter S. Beagle
"My memory is that I was invited, along with Brautigan and a poet named Charles Wright, to speak at the University of Colorado in the early 1970s. For some reason, I think it would have been either in 1973 or 1975. Brautigan was to be the featured speaker, with the three of us taking part in a panel discussion on the day after his presentation. I don't know whether Charles Wright arrived in Boulder too late to catch Brautigan's speech—though I think he might have—but I know that I did. I was disappointed, but looked forward to meeting him on the following day . . . except that he turned out to be, in Shakespeare's words, "homeward gone and ta'en thy wages . . ." So Charles Wright and I, comparative unknowns, were faced with an audience that had definitely come to hear Brautigan, and seemed in a mood to rend us asunder for not being him. Sizing up the situation, I had one of my rare brainstorms, and told Charles to come onstage with me and do exactly as I did. I addressed the audience, telling them that the time had come to inform them that there was no Richard Brautigan, and never had been—that Charles and I had been being Brautigan for years, writing his novels and poems together, and donning the walrus mustache, cowboy hat and granny spectacles as necessary for an interview or a book cover. The audience laughed—thank God!—and we got through the whole panel on our own, constantly referring to each other as "Richard." I never knew whether or not the story ever got back to Brautigan. I'd like to think so."
— Peter S. Beagle. Email to John F. Barber, 21 October 2011.
Brautigan's novel The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 published. In this novel a young man, the narrator, worked in a library, a Brautigan world of lonely pleasure. He met a woman, got her pregnant, and supported her abortion. In the process he learned how to reenter human society.
Brautigan received a letter from his sister Barbara Jean who expressed a desire to talk with him. Brautigan never responded.
A broadside featuring five Brautigan poems ("A Legend of Horses," "Toward the Pleasures of a Reconstituted Crow," "A Moth in Tucson, Arizona," "Death Like a Needle," and "Heroine of the Time Machine") was published by Serendipity Books for the Antiquarian Book Fair, held in New York.
Sunday, 16 May 1971
Seven poems by Brautigan (They Are Really Having Fun, We Meet. We Try. Nothing Happens, But, Home Again Home Again Like a Turtle To His Balcony, You Will Have Unreal Recollections of Me, Finding Is Losing Something Else, Impasse, and Homage to Charles Atlas) were first published in the May 1971 issue of California Living, the magazine section of San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, under the title "A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." All were collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork (1976).
Saturday, 12 June 1971
Brautigan and an unidentified male attended a party to celebrate the demise of Whole Earth Catalog hosted by editor Stuart Brand at the Exploratorium and Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California, where they handed out copies of a poem by Lew Welch entitled "Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen" (see below). Welch disappeared a few weeks earlier, on 23 May 1971, and presumably committed suicide. His body was never found.
Dr. Frank Oppenheimer was director of the Exploratorium. Scott Beach made the arrangements for the party. Invitations were sent to all folks associated with the making of Whole Earth Catalog and its supplements, writers and reviewers of catalog content, and all subscribers.
The invitation was first published in the March 1971 The Last Supplement to The Whole Earth Catalog, edited by Ken Kesey and Paul Krassner, where the date was stated as Friday, June 11. The invitation was later reprinted from that issue with the date changed to Saturday, 12 June.
Charles Lytle and his girlfriend Debbie, both living on a commune in Beaverton, Oregon, received an invitation to the demise party. The pair traveled to San Francisco to attend the party.
Feedback from Charles Lytle
"Back in the early summer of 1971, my girlfriend and I attended Stuart Brand's 'Whole Earth Catalog Demise Party' held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Our part was to sit on a table by the door and demand that people produce their invitations before allowing them in (sort of an ID check). We had a fresh-off-the-press copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog and were supposed to look people up if they claimed they lost their invitation or whatever.
"The evening had just gotten started (hosted by Scott Beech, music by The Golden Toad) when all the glitterati of S.F. started showing up, including Richard Brautigan and another man passing out a 'free poem entitled 'Lichen.' I tried to get the two of them to autograph the poem, which was printed on legal-sized, greenish paper. Both refused. Instead of stamping the backs of hands (so people could come and go), we had these stacks of self-stick diffraction gratings from Edmund Scientific to put on people's foreheads. Both refused.
"Brautigan actually recoiled when my girlfriend tried to stick the plastic diffraction grating on his forehead. He claimed he was worried about the glue containing LSD and the whole thing a stunt to get everybody loaded. Well, everybody ALREADY was loaded, including my girlfriend and me.
"The two wandered through the ever-increasing crowd, passing out copies of the poem. Both only hung around for a short while, then left.
"After we got back from S.F., I tried to submit an article on the event
to Portland's [Oregon] then only alternative paper, called The Bridge (which predated The Scribe by a couple of years). No one was interested, although AP [Associated Press] picked up the story and sent it out on the wire.
— Charles R. Lytle, email to John F. Barber, 14 March 2008.
The Associated Press story was published in The Oregonian ("Unknown hippie guests 'win' in host's $20,000 party game." 14 June 1971. ***?***.) and detailed some of the evening's activities. READ this article.
The poem by Welch was "Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen." It was printed as a broadside (8.5" x 14") by Cranium Press, in San Francisco, and was, apparently, given away freely. The poem was published in Coyote's Journal #9, in 1971.
The full text of Welch's poem "Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen" reads
All the years I overlooked them in the
racket of the rest, this
symbiotic splash of plant and fungus feeding
on rock, on sun, a little moisture, air—
tiny acid-factories, dissolving
salt from living rocks and
Here they are blooming!
Trail rock, talus and scree, all dusted with it:
rust, ivory, brilliant yellow-green, and
cliffs like murals!
Huge panels streaked and patched, quietly
with shooting-stars and lupine at the base.
Closer, with the glass, a city of cups!
Clumps of mushrooms and where do the
plants begin? Why are they doing this?
In this big sky and all around me peaks &
the melting glaciers, why am I made to
kneel and peer at Tiny?
These are the stamps on the final envelope.
How can the poisons reach them?
In such thin air, how can they care for the
loss of a million breaths?
What, possibly, could make their ground more bare?
Let it all die.
The hushed globe will wait and wait for
what is now so small and slow to
open it again.
As now, indeed, it opens it again, this
Sunday, 13 June 1971
Brautigan, Sherry Vetter, and Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, left for a three week summer vacation along the upper Sacramento River. They stayed in hotels or cabins with kitchens and cooked trout caught by Brautigan. Brautigan recorded observations in a notebook memoir he titled American Hotels. The work was never published.
Brautigan's story Homage to the San Francisco YMCA was first published in the July 1971 issue of Vogue.
Brautigan traveled to New York to meet his new editor and production people at Simon & Schuster, his new publisher. From New York, Brautigan flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was met by Roxy and Judy Gordon, now living in Moriarty, a small town forty miles east of Albuquerque. The Gordons drove Brautigan to Santa Fe where he visited with friends he first met when he visited with Valerie Estes in 1969.
Brautigan and Sherry Vetter shared a five-day fishing trip to the North Fork of the Yuba River, in Nevada.
The Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970 published simultaneously as a Simon & Schuster hardback and a Touchstone paperback. Brautigan traveled to New York for a publication party. Before the party, he traveled by train to Westport, Connecticut, where he stayed with Rip Torn, his wife, Geraldine Page, and their children. Brautigan and Torn fished the Saugatuck River where it flowed into Long Island Sound at Westport.
The reviews for this new book were favorable, but not overwhelmingly so, as they had been for Brautigan's previous three books released by Dell. Some reviewers noted that Brautigan was not continuing with the style he had pioneered in Trout Fishing in America.
With substantial funds in his bank account, Brautigan started looking to buy real estate. Familiar with Bolinas, California, from his frequent visits with Bill Brown and his family, John and Margot Doss, and Robert Creeley and his wife Bobbie Hawkins, all of whom owned homes in Bolinas, Brautigan began looking for a home there as well. By late October he was seriously considering a house at 6 Terrace Avenue.
Wednesday, 15 December 1971
Brautigan bought an Arts and Crafts-style, three-story, wood shingled house located at 6 Terrace Avenue in Bolinas, California. The house was located on a double lot on the west side of Terrace, just south of where Park Avenue joins Terrace from the southeast, property parcel #193-133-06. Brautigan bought the house for $32,500 from Alfred B. and Dorothy E. Parsons, who granted him the deed to this property on this day.
Built at the turn-of-the-century, the third floor had two servant bedroooms, a bath, and two other bedrooms separated by a landing. The second story had a large kitchen, pantry, a servant's staircase leading to the third floor, a large living room with a walk-in fireplace, a small bedroom, and an outside deck. The first floor had a master bedroom and a full bath. The house was reported haunted by the ghost of a Chinese servant woman who had killed herself in the house and was buried in the back yard.
A photograph by Ianthe Brautigan shows Brautigan in his Bolinas, California, house, 1971. Prior to Brautigan's purchase of this house it had been rented by David Meltzer from the Parsons through June 1972 for $150.00 per month. Meltzer edited The San Francisco Poets which included an interview with Brautigan and six poems collected in Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt. See References > Studies > Meltzer.
Allegedly, Brautigan's purchase of the house forced Meltzer, his wife Tina, and their children to leave their home. As a result, many members of the Bolinas community were upset by Brautigan's actions (Lawrence Wright 38). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright.
Michael McClure suggested that Brautigan's purchase of this home was the cause for the end of his friendship with Brautigan. "It was Richard buying the house that David and Tina lived in right out from under them and their two children that was the straw that broke my camel's back. I thought he should have bought it and let them live in it for nothing. Or even given it to them. . . . I felt that he was [after] David because David was like Richard's anti-type. David poured creativity, and in vast spontaneous amounts. I think Richard just had to get at David. So he bought the house and left it standing empty. Later, Richard shot and killed himself in that house" (Michael McClure 40). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > McClure.
In fact, Brautigan allowed the Meltzer's to stay in the house through the end of their lease, six months after he bought the house.
Bolinas, across the bay and northwest from San Francisco, enjoyed a reputation as a community of eccentric and creative individuals and was the home, over the years, to such writers, editors, and poets as Donald Merriam Allen, Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Jim Carroll, Tom Clark, Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Joanne Kyger, Thomas McGuane, David Meltzer, Daniel Moore, Alice Notley, Nancy Peters, Aram Saroyan, and Philip Whalen.
After purchasing the home in Bolinas, Brautigan had Erik Weber photograph his apartment at 2546 Geary Boulevard (Street) from exterior (front, back, sides), the front door, down the long hallway, each of the rooms, and many close ups of most of Brautigan's possessions, including the contents of his refrigerator.
Following Brautigan's death in 1984, his daughter, Ianthe Brautigan sold the house to James Zeno, Jr. and Karlyn Zeno, of Bolinas, California, on 12 August 1986.
Friday, 31 December 1971
Brautigan flew to Monterey, California, to spend New Year's Eve with Price Dunn.
Highlights: First trip to Pine Creek, Montana . . . Writes The Hawkline Monster . . . Awarded Washington Governor's Writing Award.
Sunday, 2 January 1972
Brautigan returned to San Francisco and completed the purchase of his house in Bolinas on Tuesday, 4 January.
Early April 1972
Brautigan traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he stayed for two weeks. He visited with Roxy and Judy Gordon, and other friends in the area.
Sunday, 23 April 1972
Brautigan awarded the Washington Governor's Writing Award for his collection of short stories, Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970.
The ceremony was held in the Washington State Library, in Olympia, Washington. The award was presented by Governor Daniel J. Evans. Authors present, or their representatives, were invited to speak briefly.
The Washington Governor's Writing Award was given to ten Washington writers each year. Books were submitted and reviewed by a panel of jurors. The printed program noted the Jurors for 1972 as John S. Robinson (Chairman, Olympia), Mae Benne (Seattle), Dale Nelson (Olympia), Dr. Clarence J. Simpson (Spokane), and June T. Thurston (Yakima).
The program also noted that the award was presented jointly by The Governor's Festival of Arts, the Washinton State Arts Commission, and the Washington State Library Commission. It was the seventh annual Governor's Writer's Day Open house "honoring Washington authors and photographers for their important contributions to our cultural life."
Other winners for 1972 included Beth Benley (Phone Calls From the Dead), Alain Enthoven (How Much is Enough? Shaping the Defense Program), John Fahey (The Ballyhoo Bonanza), Bill Gulick (Snake River Country), Dee Molenaar The Challenge of Mount Rainer), J.K. Osborne (I Refuse), Tom Robbins (Another Roadside Attraction), Victor B. Scheffer (The Seeing Eye), and Ralph Wahl (Come Wade the River).
End of June 1972
Brautigan took possession of his home in Bolinas, California.
Brautigan, with Robert Junsch and Erik Weber began a road trip to Montana, in a rented car. Junsch was the driver; Weber the photographer. Brautigan was going to Montana at the invitation of author Thomas McGuane who first wrote in March 1971, inviting Brautigan to visit Montana. McGuane owned a fourteen-acre ranch on Deep Creek, in Paradise Valley, south of Livingstone, Montana, that served as headquarters for group of writers, artists, musicians, and actors, "The Montana Gang" as they called themselves. Brautigan would enjoy himself, said McGuane.
Brautigan set up quarters in a converted, one-room log chicken coop near the main ranch house, at first alone, but toward the end of the month he was joined by Sherry Vetter who flew from San Francisco to Montana. For the rest of the month, Brautigan enjoyed eating, drinking, and fishing with McGuane and his other guests. For example, Brautigan, Erik Weber, Jimmy Buffet, and William (Gatz) Hjortsberg fished Sixteen Mile Creek, near Ringling, Montana. Buffet's song about the small town, "Ringling, Ringling" was included on his record album Living and Dying in 3/4 Time (1974).
A photograph by Erik Weber shows Brautigan at McGuane's kitchen table. To Brautigan's right is Jim Harrison and an unknown person. Clockwise from his left are Tom McGuane, Bill Roecker, Becky McGuane, and Benjamin "Dink" Bruce. This photograph appeared on the back cover of Keith Abbott's Downstream From Trout Fishing in America.
Brautigan was impressed by the combined creative energy and non-stop party attitude of "The Montana Gang." He was also impressed by the machismo and ability of some members, like McGuane, to achieve financial security by turning their novels into movies.
Others were impressed as well and Livingston, Montana, and members of "The Montana Gang" were profiled in newspaper articles, some of which mentioned Brautigan. For example, Cheryl McCall, in her article "Bloomsbury Comes to Big Sky, and the New Rocky Mountain High is Art" (People Weekly, Nov. 3, 1980), talks about the actors, writers, and artists living in Paradise Valley, Montana, who where Brautigan's neighbors. Her article includes a photograph of Brautigan and Russell Chatam fishing. READ this article.
Phil Patton's article, "The Dude Is Back in Town" (The New York Times, 18 April 1993), focuses on the reemergence of popularity of Western style in furniture, furnishings, clothing, and collectables. Patton offers a time line "When Easterner Met West," detailing the history of the popularity of the Western style. He mentions Brautigan as part of Livingston, Montana, "Big Sky Bloomsbury." READ this article.
Robert Cross's article, "A Refuge in Montana: The Gossip-Column Set Slips Quietly into the Woods" (Chicago Tribune 20 September 1992. Travel Section, 1), focuses on Livingston, Montana, as the town near where author William (Gatz) Hjortsberg lives and writes. READ this article.
Toby Thompson's article, "Out There: Livingston, MONT: A Rumble Runs Through It" (The New York Times 11 April 1993, Sec. 9: 3), focuses on The Murray Hotel in Livingston, Montana, which has long been a watering hole for the rich and famous and otherwise noteworthy. READ this article.
End of August 1972
Brautigan, Sherry Vetter, Robert Junsch, and Erik Weber drove back to San Francisco. This photograph shows Brautigan in the kitchen of his 2546 Geary Street apartment, San Francisco, 1972. Photograph by Ianthe Brautigan. Brautigan asked Weber to document in photographs his apartment, perhaps beginning to think about a change in his life. Brautigan began to spend more and more time at his Bolinas, California, home, where, inspired by his recent trip to Montana, he began making notes for a new novel, a western that would combine elements of a cowboy story and a gothic novel.
Brautigan broke his leg in Bolinas, California, allegedly while drinking at Smiley's, the local bar (William Hjortsberg 458; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg), although his daughter Ianthe recounts Brautigan telling her he broke his leg by tripping over an exposed root on the Bolinas property. Sherry Vetter drove Brautigan to Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco to have his leg set, and then to his Gerry Street apartment. The relationship between the two was unraveling. Vetter did not see Brautigan again for four months.
Brautigan began a relationship with Mary Ann Gilderbloom, whom Brautigan had met in April. Engaged to journalist Mark Dowie (a friend of Brautigan's), Gilderbloom was at loose ends following Dowies' abrupt termination of their engagement. Both she and Brautigan were pleased to be able to see each other.
After his cast was removed, near the end of November, Brautigan flew to Monterey, California, to visit with Price Dunn.
Early December 1972
Brautigan, with his daughter Ianthe, flew to New York for a two-week stay. They played tourists, dining in fine restaurants and taking in the sights.
Highlights: Buys ranch in Pine Creek, Montana.
Author Ken Kesey wrote Brautigan inviting him to be an editor for a new alternative literary magazine, Spit in the Ocean Kesey was starting. Brautigan declined, saying he was a writer not an editor.
Jayne Walker (nee Pallidino) wrote Brautigan saying she would like to see him. They first met in 1970, at a reading Brautigan gave at the University of Califormia Berkeley, and had remained in touch with each other ever since. Brautigan invited Walker to his Bolinas, California, home and the renewed their relationship and they saw each other throughout the spring.
At the invitation of Dave and Sue Dill, owners of the Pine Creek Lodge, Pine Creek, Montana, Brautigan reserved their best tourist cabin for the coming summer.
Brautigan met Kazuko Fujimoto Goodman, who was translating his novel Trout Fishing in America into Japanese for forthcoming publication. Brautigan and Fujimoto talked often about the translation, and Brautigan, impressed with her care and attention, requested Helen Brann to include a stipulation in any future contracts for Japanse translation of his works that Fujimoto be his designated translator.
Brautigan met and began to date Anne Kuniyuki, from Honolulu, Hawaii, in San Francisco where where she was studying to be a nurse.
Brautigan began writing The Hawkline Monster, the Western gothic novel for which he had been making notes for some time. The story began in a pineapple field in Hawaii, perhaps a nod to Kuniyuki. The story continued in Eastern Oregon, an area in which he had hunted for deer as a teenager. The novel was to be the first of five, each experimenting with surrealistic versions of a popular literary genre, one each every year.
Brautigan flew to Montana and settled into the cabin he had reserved at the Pine Creek Lodge, Cabin #2, the most desirable as it was the furthest from the road. He was soon joined by Roxy and Judy Gordon, Art and Suzy Coelho, and Peter Miller. The group drove to Crow Agency, Montana, south of Billings, for Crow Fair. Held every year during the third week of August, Crow Fair enjoyed its reputation as the largest modern-day Native American gathering in the country. Because Coelho had been adopted as a member of the Crow Nation, the group was able to camp as invited guests.
After returning to Pine Creek, Brautigan asked Miller, then working remodeling homes in Seattle, Washington, if he would be interested in a house remodeling project. Perhaps Brautigan was anticipating purchasing a home in Montana, a place he was rapidly coming to enjoy living.
Anne Kuniyuki flew from San Francisco to visit Brautigan in Pine Creek, Montana. She stayed with Brautigan nine days, in Cabin #2, at the Pine Creek Lodge, before returning to San Francisco.
Brautigan telephoned Valeries Estes several times, offering to hire her to do research for his novel in the works, The Hawkline Monster. No doubt they also speculated whether to restart their relationship.
Brautigan followed a steady writing schedule and the manuscript for The Hawkline Monster grew throughout the month. Helen Brann visited for one day, a stop over on her way to San Francisco. She has recently left the Sterling Lord Agency and was starting her own agency. It made sense to stop and visit Brautigan and learn about his new manuscript. She was, apparently, pleased with his work.
In between visiting with friends, fishing, and writing, Brautigan considered real estate in the immediate area. He eventually settled his interest on a ten-acre piece of property just a quarter mile from the Pine Creek Lodge, in Paradise Valley, along the Yellowstone River, just south of Livingston, Montana.
Jayne Walker visited in early-October over a four-day weekend. Just prior to her visit, Brautigan completed the manuscript for The Hawkline Monster, dedicated to "The Montana Gang." He showed Walker the 228-page typed manuscript, but refused to let her read it.
Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, arrived at the end of the month to visit for several days. This was her first trip to Montana.
Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Brautigan signed a contract to purchase the ten-acre property on Pine Creek in Montana's Paradise Valley. Later, he purchased additional parcels, bringing his total holdings to forty acres.
At Brautigan's invitation, Peter Miller agreed to return to Montana to talk with Brautigan about renovations he wanted to his new house before he moved in. Winter was not the season to undertake house renovations and Brautigan and Miller agreed to meet again in the spring to finalize plans.
At the end of the first week in November, Brautigan left Montana, flying to New York where he stayed for two weeks, visiting with friends, eating, and drinking. He also talked strategy with Helen Brann regarding how to sell his manuscript for The Hawkline Monster. They agreed to ask for a $75,000 advance against royalties and a first printing order of twenty-five thousand copies. Brautigan, as he had for all his other books, would retain approval of jacket design and advertising copy. The contract, somewhat revised, was signed in December 1973.
Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, where he took up his occasional relationship with Jayne Walker.
Helen Brann sent Brautigan his contract with Simon & Schuster for publication of The Hawkline Monster. Negotiations had settled on a $50,000 advance for hardcover and quality paperback publication and a 15 percent royalty on the hardcover edition. She sent Brautigan a check for $45,000 (minus her commission) later in the month. Brautigan took his daughter, Ianthe and Anne Kuniyuki to Mendocino over Christmas to celebrate.
Highlights: The Hawkline Monster published . . . Gives up Geary Street apartment in San Francisco, California.
Jan Erik Vold and Olav Angell visited Brautigan in San Francisco. Vold, a Norwegian poet and translator, studied language and literature at the University of California Santa Barbara in the 1960s. He translated poems from each of Brautigan's poetry collections under the title Å føre krig mot den gjengse maratonprosa [Waging War against the Common Marathon Prose] (Oslo: Kolon Forlag, 2004). Vold's work as a poet and translator represents an important contribution to the renewal of interest in Norwegian literary works and culture.
Brautigan traveled to Key West, Florida, where he stayed with Guy de la Valdène who was making a movie about fly fishing for tarpon. Valdène wanted to put writers and sportsmen together and film the results. At first, Brautigan resisted being involved, but ultimately relented and appeared in four scenes of Valdène's film Tarpon. See Screenplays > Tarpon.
Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, flew to Miami, Florida, her first time traveling alone, to join him in Key West. After two weeks in Key West, they flew back to San Francisco together.
Back in San Francisco, Brautigan kept company with Jayne Walker, Anne Kuniyuki, and Mary Ann Gilderbloom, without them knowing of one another.
End of April 1974
Brautigan flew to Seattle, Washington, to confer with Peter Miller about the renovations he wanted for his house in Montana. With the project lined out, he returned to San Francisco to prepare for his return to Montana.
At the Pine Creek Lodge, Cabin #2 was not available. It had been rented to members of the crew working on shooting Thomas McGuane's movie Rancho Deluxe. Brautigan had to settle for Cabin #1, closest to the road, and therefore noisier. He stayed there all spring. Mary Ann Gilderbloom visited in late May.
Brautigan did not stay at his new ranch house because it was being remodeled by Peter Miller and a makeshift crew. Miller called a friend, Ron Little, who agreed to come to Montana with his partner Tom Kyle and take on the project, which cost Brautigan $15,000.
The ranch included a two-story ranch house, a large barn, and an outbuilding that Brautigan remodeled into a sleeping cabin. The remodeling of the sleeping cabin included a redwood floor, redwood trim around the room, and a triangular, free-standing closet in one corner. A painting by Montana artist Russell Chatham of the view once seen out a window filled in during the remodeling hung on one wall. A wood cook stove stood in the middle of the room, its chimney bottom boxed in with wood painted a rich shade of raspberry. It served as an effective dividing point between the sitting and sleeping portions of the room. The top of the barn was remodeled as Brautigan's writing room, suspended in the rafters, three stories above the ground. A large window looked East, toward the Absaroka Mountains. The room was small with some book shelves and a redwood desk for Brautigan's typewriter. It was reached by a long climb up a series of stairs inside the barn.
Saturday, 1 June 1974
Brautigan, the crew of remodelers, neighbors, and assorted friends celebrated the completion of work on Brautigan's ranch house and writing studio with a large party. Soon after the party, the remodelers left and Brautigan moved into his newly remodeled ranch house at Pine Creek, Montana.
Brautigan enjoyed a summer of parties with his neighbors and visiting friends. His immediate neighbors were William (Gatz)Hjortsberg (author of Falling Angel) and his then wife Marian on one side and Robert L. Gorsuch on the other. Gorsuch, a licensed plumber, often repaired things around the ranch and acted as watchman when Brautigan was gone. Across the road lived John Dermer. Living nearby were writers Jim Harrison (author of Farmer) and his wife Marge. Actors Peter Fonda and his wife Becky, Jeff Bridges, Warren Oates, film director Sam Peckinpah, cinematographer Michael Butler, and painter Russell Chatham were all neighbors. Other visiting writers (like Guy de la Valdène and Ron Loewinsohn), artists, and musicians (Jimmy Buffet) often visited, as did Richard Hodge, Brautigan's lawyer, and his wife Nancy. Mary Ann Gilderbloom, Brautigan's occasional girlfriend from San Francisco visited frequently throughout the summer, bringing bourbon and seafood.
Price Dunn visited early in the month, and helped Brautigan christen his new house with whiskey and bullets. Dunn arrived at the Bozeman, Montana, airport and was met by Brautigan. They took a cab to Brautigan's ranch in Paradise Valley where they started drinking. They throughout the day and entertained themselves by shooting objects in the ranch dump with Brautigan's .22 Winchester, acquired from Harmon Henkin, a fly fishing expert and author of several books on the subject. Henkin lived in Missoula, Montana, but frequently drove to Livingston and Pine Creek where he liked to trade fishing and hunting gear. He died in automobile accident in August 1980.
Back in the kitchen, around midnight, Brautigan fired the rifle at the wall clock, above the refrigerator, missing by inches. A new game was quickly invented: both Brautigan and Dunn firing the rifle, attempting to come as close as possible to the edge without hitting the clock. When Brautigan hit the clock, the rules changed, and the pair riddled the clock and the surrounding wall with bullet holes. Later, the wall was repaired save the bullet holes where the clock once hung. Brautigan placed a wooden picture frame around the spot with a small brass plaque on the bottom reading "shootout at ok kitchen. r.b. and p.d." The memorial remained for the rest of Brautigan's life.
Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, arrived at the end of June, planning to stay for the summer. Brautigan promised Ianthe a good home, encouraged her to pick her bedroom, bought new kitchen appliances, and a horse for his daughter. Ianthe recounts the summer in her memoir, You Can't Catch Death.
Brautigan bought four pigs and fifty baby chickens, thinking to raise them for food. The chickens inspired four stories later collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express.
Preparing for publication of The Hawkline Monster, Brautigan arranged for John Fryer to take dust jacket and publicity photographs. One photograph by Fryer of Brautigan standing beside the mailbox of his Pine Creek, Montana, ranch was used on the back cover. Brautigan's rural-sized mailbox was painted sky blue. Fryer was incorrectly noted as "John Freyer" on the copyright notice. Another of these photographs was later used on the back cover of Sombrero Fallout. Fryer was paid $125.00 for his photographs.
Friday, 21 June 1974
Brautigan began writing Willard and His Bowling Trophies, the second of his planned five novels in surrealistic versions of a popular literary genre, one every year. Willard and His Bowling Trophies was subtitled "a perverse mystery." It was the first writing project Brautigan undertook in his new writing studio in the top of his Pine Creek barn. He finished the short novel on 26 September 1974. It was published in late summer of 1975.
Brautigan's novel, The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western was published with a first printing of forty thousand copies. This was the first of Brautigan's planned five novels in surrealistic versions of popular literary genres, one every year. The two literary genres used were gothic horror and the western.
Brautigan played with the idea that imagination has both good and bad ramifications, turning it into a monster with the power to turn objects and thoughts into whatever amused it. The novel was well received by a wide audience. Hal Ashby, director of the movies Being There and Harold and Maude, purchased the screenplay rights and, in June 1975, contracted for Brautigan to write the screenplay. See Screenplays > Hawkline Monster.
Toward the end of summer, Brautigan was invited by Seymore Lawrence/Dell Publishing to write the introduction for the forthcoming American edition of The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics. He sent them an essay entitled "The Silence of Flooded Houses." He was paid $750.00. See Non-Fiction > Essays > The Beatles.
Brautigan, bearded and overweight, posed in his 2546 Geary Street apartment for ten publicity photographs taken by Erik Weber in preparation for the forthcoming publication of his novel Willard and His Bowling Trophies.
Weber took nineteen photographs of Brautigan at a bowling alley on Chestnut Street, San Francisco, California. Brautigan posed outside the front door, frowning, and with bowling trophies and racks of bowling balls. He also posed, kneeling, in front of a wall. Brautigan however, disliked Weber's photographs for Willard and His Bowling Trophies and a front dust jacket color illustration by Wendell Minor was used instead.
The photograph of Brautigan kneeling in front of a wall was used on the front and back covers of Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork when it was published in 1976.
Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, returned to California for her first year of high school, and Price Dunn returned to spend a month with Brautigan, keeping him company and serving as his driver.
After Price Dunn returned to California, Brautigan traveled to Traverse City, Michigan, and then north to Lake Leelanau to visit Jim Harrison. Brautigan and Harrison were joined by Dan Gerber, Guy de la Valdène, and Geoffrey Norman. The objective was bird hunting, but choose to stay behind writing poetry.
Friday, 1 November 1974
Brautigan left Michigan and traveled to New York City, where he stayed at the Sherry Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street
Brautigan returned to San Francisco where met Siew-Hwa Beh, a filmmaker and writer. Of Chinese ancestry, Siew-Hwa Beh was born and grew up in Penang, Malaysia. She and another woman created Women & Film, the world's first feminist film magazine. Brautign and Siew-Hwa Beh became quickly involved, she moving into Brautigan's new apartment at 314 Union Street, in North Beach. Brautigan extracted himself from his relationship with Mary Ann Gilderbloom.
Brautigan moved out of his apartment at 2546 Geary Boulevard and into another at 314 Union Street, just above Washington Square, on the slope of Telegraph Hill. Keith Abbott, who owned a pickup truck, helped Brautigan box and move his possessions to the new apartment. The move was a slow one, not completed until early February 1975. Abbott described the move as "the usual nuttiness" in his memoir "When Fame Puts Its Feathery Crowbar Under Your Rock." See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
Highlights: Willard and His Bowling Trophies published . . . Writing Sombrero Fallout.
Thursday, 30 January 1975
Brautigan celebrated his fortieth birthday with a catered dinner in the Victorian home that served as Richard Hodges' law office. The guests included Price Dunn, Joanne Kyger, Ron Loewinsohn and Kitty Hughes, Don Carpenter, Tony Dingman, Curt Gentry (author of Helter Skelter), Margot Patterson Doss, Jim Harrison, Harry Dean Stanton, William (Gatz) Hjortsberg, Bob Dattila, Don Marsh and his wife Joan, and Richard and Nancy Hodge, who arranged everything and acted as the evening's hostess (William Hjortsberg 519-520). See References Biographies > Hjortsberg.
early February 1975
Brautigan met Nikki Arai, a Japanese American photographer and art dealer. Their relationship was short, but they remained friends for the rest of their lives. Arai was the focus of Brautigan's posthumous novel, An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey, first published in France in 1994.
Siew-Hwa Beh moved into Brautigan's 314 Union Street apartment soon after the brief affair with Arai. Siew-Hwa Beh had been married four years while in college and both she and Brautigan had enjoyed other lovers, but the combination of two creative, independent individuals provided a strong, intense two-year relationship for the couple. Later, no longer involved with Brautigan, Siew-Hwa Beh married Michael Lichtenstein, who died in 1997. Her two sons were named Niles and Bryon. Eldest son Niles shares his name with Niles, California, one of the first places films were made in the state.
Brautigan completed his 145-page screenplay for his novel The Hawkline Monster.
Brautigan and daughter Ianthe flew from San Francisco to Montana, and settled into Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch house, planning to stay through the winter. Ianthe's mother, Virginia, planned to move from Sonoma Valley, California to Hawaii. She and Brautigan decided it would be best for Ianthe to stay with her father and attend high school in Montana.
Brautigan needed help and invited Tony Dingman, a friend since 1969 when they were introduced by Lew Welch, to join them in Montana. Dingman arrived a week later. He was to provide company, chauffer Brautigan and Ianthe, and help with the cooking.
The summer proceeded as usual, with house guests coming and going (Siew-Hwa Beh visited in early September) and Paradise Valley neighbors hosting series of dinners at their homes. Brautigan made short visits to San Francisco, leaving Ianthe with Dingman.
Brautigan made a four-day fishing trip to Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, with Russell Chatham and two other fishing partners. Leaving Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Brautigan flew to San Francisco and spent a week with Siew-Hwa Beh.
Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery was published. The novel, as all others by Brautigan, dealt with the isolation of people from each other. This was the second of Brautigan's planned five novels in surrealistic versions of a popular literary genre, one published every year. The literary genre was sado-masochism.
Brautigan received a $50,000 dollar advance for hardback and paperback publication rights, and a 15 percent royalty for every hardback copy sold. Thirty-five thousand copies sold by 10 October.
Feedback from Nancy Langer Vicknair
"I was an assistant to the head of the Whitney Museum in New York City in the mid 1970s and during an important opening—I think it was the Lee Krassner show—I got very drunk and was weaving around the room with all the arty folks and saw Brautigan. For some unknown reason I thought it very important at the time to introduce him to one of the Rockefellers—David or Nelson (who can remember??).
"I did just that—and left the two shaking hands and talking to each other and then brought another admirer of Richard's into the trio and then went back to the open bar for a refill.
"I was wearing a vintage mink and with my red hair and 6 feet tall in
purple boots, I must have been a sight. I wish I had not darted away and
had just talked to Brautigan without bringing in the others—but life is
strange and redheads can throw themselves curves. He looked kinda lost,
lonely, but also bemused during the opening. I was trying to help him
— Nancy Langer Vicknair. Email to John F. Barber, 30 January 2008.
Wednesday, 1 October 1975
Brautigan flew from California to Montana, and returned to his Pine Creek ranch after a ten-day absence.
Thursday, 10 October 1975
Brautigan finished editing Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork and sent it to Simon & Schuster for publication. The collection of poetry was published in early spring of 1976. That evening Brautigan and Tony Dingman met Siew-Hwa Beh, Curt Gentry (author of Helter Skelter), and his girlfriend, Gail Stevens, at the Bozeman airport. Dingman drove them all back to the Pine Creek ranch.
Monday, 27 October 1975
Brautigan finished editing the first draft of Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel. He sent a copy to Helen Brann, his literary agent, the same day. She negotiated a contract with Simon & Schuster who agreed to pay Brautigan a $50,000 advance, plus 15 percent royalty on each hardback copy sold. They published the novel in September 1976, after delaying two years so as not to conflict with sales of The Hawkline Monster or Willard and His Bowling Trophies. The first printing was thirty-five thousand copies. This was to be the third of Brautigan's planned five novels in surrealistic versions of a popular literary genre, one every year.
Wednesday, 29 October 1975
Brautigan decided to return to San Francisco, rather than remain in Montana all winter. He made arrangements for Ianthe to stay with Lexi Corwin and her sister Deane, who lived nearby. Brautigan and Dingman closed up his Pine Creek, Montana, ranch for the winter.
Thursday, 30 October 1975
Brautigan and Dingman returned to San Francisco. Back in his urban life, Brautigan had more time to spend with Siew-Hwa Beh. Their relationship was increasingly turbulent, punctuated by arguments.
Sunday, 9 November 1975
Brautigan traveled to New York where he visited with his literary agent, Helen Brann about translations of his work into Japanese. Brautigan's contracts stipulated that Kazuko Fujimoto Goodman was the sole translator of his work into Japanese. Four of Brautigan's books were translated in Japanese this year, all by Fujimoto Goodman. Now, a publisher wanted to use someone else, Natsuki Ikezawa, a thirty-one-year-old poet, to translate The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster. Brautigan and Brann talked about how to proceed (William Hjortsberg 536). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Back in San Francisco, Brautigan was preoccupied with his disintegrating relationship with Siew-Hwa Beh, and planning a trip to Tokyo, Japan. When Ianthe arrived in San Francisco after visiting her mother, Virginia, in Hawaii, Brautigan hardly had time for her brief visit and her bronchitis. Instead, he gave Ianthe money for antibiotics and take away food. As soon as she was well enough to travel, Ianthe returned to Montana where she was welcomed by the Cowin sisters.
Highlights: First visit to Japan . . . Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork published . . . Sombrero Fallout published.
Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork, a collection of poetry, published. This collection was unique in that it its poems were grouped in titled sections and featured the crow as a dominant figure throughout. The hardback edition was released in early spring, the trade paperback in June. Brautigan wrote his own dust jacket blurb. The front and back covers featured a previously rejected photograph of Brautigan taken by Erik Weber at the bowling alley on Chestnut Street in San Francisco, in 1974 for Willard and His Bowling Trophies. Brautigan approved the use of this photograph for this poetry collection.
Brautigan began writing Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942. The novel, the fourth of his five planned genre novels, was published on 27 September 1977.
Sunday 4 April 1976
Brautigan's passport was issued. He set about securing a visa to visit Japan, planning a trip of several weeks that spring.
Wednesday, 21 April 1976
In a letter to Brautigan, addressed to his 314 Union Street, San Francisco, California, apartment, Helen Brann, Brautigan's literary agent, notes the closing of The Transatlantic Review. Noting the excellent reputation of the magazine, and her personal friendship with its owner, Joe McCrindle, Brann asked Brautigan, "Is there a story we can sell them for their last issue? They pay very little, but it would be a good place to be published."
In the same letter, Brann enclosed an invitation from The State Arts Commission and The State Library Commission to attend the 1976 Governor's Writers' Day Reception at the Washington State Library in Olympia, Washington, 2 May 1976. Brann noted she had turned down the invitation, "since you will not be in this country on May 2nd. I thought you might like to see the invitation."
Edna Webster (Jensen) mailed Brautigan's adolescent manuscripts and poems to Durrett Wagner at Swallow Press in Chicago, asking that they be published. Wagner contacted Dell Publishing (Brautigan's publisher), who contacted Helen Brann (Brautigan's literary agent), who contacted Brautigan. Brautigan gave Webster several poems and manuscripts between November 1955 and June 1956, before leaving Eugene, Oregon, for San Francisco. With the works, Brautigan gave Webster a signed note granting her permission to "do what she wishes with them." The works were artifacts of Brautigan's troubled youth and he Brann he did not want the works published, calling them "juvenilia, and highly imitative." Brann wrote Wagner, saying the work still legally belonged to Brautigan and urged him not to publish them (William Hjortsberg 543; See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg). Webster put the works in a safe deposit box where they remained until October 1992 when she "discovered" and sold them to rare book dealers James Mussser and Burton Weiss. The works were published as The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings in 1995.
Thursday, 13 May - Wednesday, 30 June 1976
With a visa for a two-month visit in hand Brautigan arrived in Tokyo, Japan, his first of several visits. His experiences and observations provided material for the collection of poems, June 30th, June 30th. His return to San Francisco, on 30 June, crossing the International Dateline and repeating the same day, inspired the title.
On first arrival, Brautigan was not allowed to enter the country. Brautigan has listed "writer" as his occupation, and immigration officials thought he might be a technical writer and would take a job away from a citizen. Once it was clear that Brautigan was a famous author, he was allowed to enter Japan. Bad treatment continued. After three days at the Imperial Hotel, Brautigan was asked to leave. The management judged from his looks and lack of credit card that he might not pay the bill (William Hjortsberg 563). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
One evening, Kazuko Fujimoto and husband David Goldman took Brautigan to The Cradle Bar and introduced him to the owner, Takako Shiina. Brautigan complained of his treatment at the Imperial Hotel and Shiina arranged a discounted rate for him at the Keio Plaza Hotel in the Shinjuko District. Brautigan and Shiina became good friends. Brautigan called her "my Japanese sister" and dedicated June 30th, June 30th to her. In 2002, Fujimoto wrote a memoir about her experiences with Brautigan and included a short memoir by Shiina. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Fujimoto
From his room, 3003 on the thirtieth floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel, Brautigan explored the neighborhood, writing observations and poems in his pocket notebook, creating an emotional diary of this first visit to Japan. Curt Gentry (author of Helter-Skelter) and his girlfriend, Gail Stevens, were in Tokyo and Brautigan and Gentry frequently accompanied Brautigan as he explored the Tokyo nightlife. Jack Thibeau visited for three days from the Philippines and he and Brautigan partied heartily. Tony Dingman also visited from the Philippines, where he was working with Frances Ford Coppola to complete his movie Apocalypse Now. This was another excuse to party. Brautigan visited The Cradle nightly and there he met a number of Japanese writers. His friendship with Shiina grew also, a result of his frequent visits. In between, Brautigan wrote poems based on his experiences and observations.
Wednesday, 30 June 1976
Brautigan returned from Tokyo, Japan, to San Francisco, where he stayed with Curt Gentry (author of Helter Skelter) for few days before traveling to Montana. Brautigan read Gentry and his now wife, Gail Stevens. They stopped in Oahu, Hawaii, on their way back from Tokyo, Japan, and were married. After Brautigan finished reading the manuscript, Stevens suggested the title, "June 30th, June 30th," saying "There's no other title that fits" (William Hjortsberg 573). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 4 July 1976
Brautigan convinced Keith Abbott to join him in Montana. Tony Dingman was in the Philippines, and so not available. Brautigan paid Abbott's airfare to Montana and provide a wage during the summer. Abbott pursued his own writing in the mornings, and worked around the ranch during the afternoons. He recounts his experiences in his memoir, Downstream from Trout Fishing in America. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Abbott.
end of July 1976
Brautigan, with help from Keith Abbot, edited the galleys and bound page proofs for Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel at this Pine Creek, Montana ranch. Soon after, Abbott left Montana and returned to California. Brautigan also edited the poems he wrote in Japan, and wrote the introduction for the collection of poetry he now called June 30th, June 30th.
After Keith Abbott left, Brautigan enjoyed visits from Ed and Jennifer Dorn and a new Philippine girlfriend from Marin County, California, named Maria. Needing someone to drive him around, Brautigan convinced Price Dunn to return to Montana. Best friends for eighteen years, Brautigan and Dunn enjoyed drinking, fishing, and storytelling together. Brautigan asked Dunn to take Maria one afternoon while he prepared dinner. Maria, bored at the ranch, wanted to party and the afternoon continued until early the next morning. Brautigan was furious with jealousy when Dunn and Maria retuned. He ordered Dunn to leave, severing their relationship, never speaking to Dunn again. Maria left soon after the incident. Between guests and parties, Brautigan traveled to San Francisco where he saw Siew-Hwa Beh. They remained intimate despite their unraveling relationship.
Peter Miller (not the same one who started the Trout Fishing in America School) arrived at the Pine Creek, Montana, ranch to replace Price Dunn. Brautigan provided him room and board and a small stipend. Miller note the seemingly endless house guests and parties, as well as Brautigan's paranoia and unpredictable behavior as reasons why he decided to leave when Brautigan returned to San Francisco for a brief visit at the end of the month.
Brautigan returned to San Francisco where he mailed copies of the June 30th, June 30th manuscript to Helen Brann, his literary agent, and fellow writer Jim Harrison.
Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel published. This novel featured two interrelated stories. The first was about a sombrero falling from the sky and its affect on humanity. In the second story, the narrator of the first thinks about his Japanese ex-lover who had recently moved out of his apartment. This was the third of Brautigan's planned five novels in surrealistic versions of popular literary genres, one every year. The literary genre used here was the Japanese "I-novel" complete with intense, personal autobiographical details that cause the reader to believe that the protagonist, the narrator, and the author of a text are a single identity. Brautigan was to be paid $50,000 in advance for hardback and paperback publication rights, along with a 15 percent royalty for every hardback copy sold. Thirty-five thousand copies were issued with the first printing.
Brautigan returned to Montana from San Francisco by the first of September, closed up the Pine Creek ranch for the winter, and left again for San Francisco before the end of the month.
late October 1976
Takako Shiina stopped in Los Angeles, California, for two days while traveling from Tokyo, Japan, to New York City. Brautigan met her at the airport and escorted her about town and they dined at various restaurants.
On her return from New York, Takako Shiina, stopped in San Francisco. Brautigan introduced her to his friends and took her to his Bolinas, California, home for a short visit with Robert Creeley and his wife Bobbie Hawkins.
Helen Brann, Brautigan's literary agent, visited San Francisco and hosted a party at her suite at The Stanford Court Hotel. Brautigan and Keith Abbott were among the many guests invited. Brautigan gave her a manuscript copy of Dreaming of Babylon.
Brautigan met Marcia Clay, a twenty-three-year-old painter. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Clay had recently returned to San Francisco after living in Paris, France, and Tokyo, Japan. She and Brautigan became good friends, spending time together almost every day until Brautigan left for Japan in February 1977.
Brautigan gave up his 314 Union Street apartment, putting most of his belongings into storage. Brautigan asked Curt Gentry (author of Helter Skelter) for permission to stay at his home on Russian Hill for a weekend, saying he was leaving for Japan. The weekend visit lengthened to nearly three months, until Brautigan left for Japan on 19 February 1977.
Highlights: Second visit to Japan . . . Married Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), second wife . . . Dreaming of Babylon published.
Brautigan's literary agent, Helen Brann, negotiated new publishing contracts with Dell Publishing, moving Brautigan away from Simon & Schuster and back to Sam Lawrence at Delacorte Press. The first two books published under this new arrangement were Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1941 and June 30th, June 30th.
Brautigan asked Erik Weber to take promotional photographs for Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1941. Weber photographed Brautigan in his Bolinas, California, house wearing a hard-boiled detective fedora, writing in his notebook, talking on the telephone, sitting on the edge of his bathtub, a chair, his dresser, and his bed.
Brautigan asked Don Carpenter to write the dust jacket blurb for this new book. Carpenter agreed.
Friday, 18 February - Sunday, 19 June 1977
Brautigan left San Francisco, bound for Tokyo, Japan, arriving 20 February, losing a day to the International Dateline. This was Brautigan's second visit to Japan in less than a year. During this visit, Brautigan met Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura, born 1994 in Sapporo to a very traditional Japanese family. After dropping out of university, she worked in public relations, hosting visiting international artists and musicians. She was given the assignment to interview Brautigan during his visit, and called him at the Keio Plaza Hotel. Although married at the time to an advertising man named Yoshimura, she went to Brautigan's hotel room for dinner. They quickly became lovers. The connection and opportunity was immediate for both. Akiko thought she had found a way out of the confining box of being a Japanese daughter and wife. Brautigan thought he had found the perfect Japanese woman to be his wife.
During this time Brautigan also edited the uncorrected galleys for Dreaming of Babylon.
As he had during his first visit, Brautigan stopped at The Cradle every night and continued drinking. One night he insulted American screenwriter Leonard Schrader who was there talking with Ryu Murakami (Shiina's lover) and Kazuhiko Hasagawa. Not wanting his friend to be so ill treated, Hasagawa rose and swiftly struck Brautigan, breaking his nose (William Hjortsberg 591). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 19 June 1977
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, California, from Tokyo, Japan. Brautigan stayed with John and Margot Doss before he found a new apartment at 1439 Kearny Street, a block away from where he had lived with Valerie Estes in the 1960s and not far from his most recent apartment at 314 Union Street.
end of July 1977
Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura, called Aki, arrived from Tokyo, and stayed with Brautigan for three weeks. Brautigan introduced Aki to Ed and Jennifer Dorn, who lived just across Kearny Street, and to Marcia Clay, who lived at 1851 Stockton Street. Brautigan also introduced her to his favorite North Beach and Chinatown haunts.
Akiko was still married, however, and could only obtain a divorce from her husband if he was assured that Brautigan intended to marry her. Brautigan had his lawyer, Richard Hodge, send a telegram attesting to Brautigan's intentions. Aki returned to Japan to finalize her divorce, which was not common and shameful. No alimony was granted her. Instead she gave everything, houses, and car, to her former husband.
Tuesday, 20 September 1977
Akiko arrived in San Francisco and took up residence with Brautigan at his 1439 Kearny Street apartment
Friday, 23 September 1977
Brautigan's revised will was dated and signed, executed in San Francisco, California. Brautigan distributed his personal and real property between Akiko Yoshimura (Hishizawa) and his daughter, Ianthe Brautigan. He appointed Richard A. Hodge, his Berkeley, California, lawyer as executor. Friend and poet Ron Loewinsohn, of Oakland, California, and literary agent Helen Brann, of New York, New York, were named as alternate executors. The three were also named as trustees. Brautigan requested that his remains be cremated "as soon after my death as possible" and disposed of as selected by Akiko Yoshimura, or failing her, Ianthe Brautigan. "I request that no funeral service or other type of memorial service be held in connection with my death." When Brautigan told Akiko of the changes in his will, he allegedly told her he would end his life before he turned fifty years of age (William Hjortsberg 597). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Tuesday, 27 September 1977
Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 published. This was the fourth of Brautigan's planned five novels in surrealistic versions of popular literary genres, one every year. The literary genre used here was hard-boiled Grade-B detective stories. Sales were disappointing: only eighteen thousand copies sold, with twelve thousand copies remaindered and sold wherever possible. Perhaps this is why Brautigan did not complete his five-books-in-five-years plan. This was the last of Brautigan's experiments combining literary genres.
end of September 1977
Brautigan and Akiko traveled to Montana and stayed at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch house. Brautigan fished, gave out copies of his newly published novel, Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942, and introduced Aki to his friends. He wrote stories about Montana experiences that were later collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan wanted to be married in Montana, but the required blood tests and questions about his father angered him. The couple returned to San Francisco. Tony Dingman stayed at the Pine Creek ranch.
Thursday, 1 December 1977
Brautigan married Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura, in a brief civil service conducted by Judge Pat Herron, at her home in Point Richmond, California. Brautigan desired a small, anonymous wedding, fearing his fame would attract uncomfortable attention from the press. He asked his lawyer, Richard Hodge, for help. Hodge arranged the ceremony with Herron. Brautigan and Akiko separated 4 December 1979 and were officially divorced 12 November 1980.
Soon after their wedding, Brautigan and Akiko returned to Pine Creek, Montana, where Tony Dingman was watching their ranch house. The weather was bad, neighbors were away, so everyone experienced rural solitude. Brautigan continued to write stories about Montana experiences that were later collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan and Akiko returned to San Francisco for the Christmas holidays, and remained into the New Year.
Highlights: Books involved in censorship litigation . . . third visit to Japan . . . moved to 1264 Lombard Street . . . June 30th, June 30th published.
Sunday, 1 January 1978
Brautigan and wife Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura enjoyed a New Year's Eve party hosted in their honor by new friends Fumio and Meiko Wada.
Sunday, 8 January 1978
J. D. Leitaker, the principal of Anderson High School in Anderson, California, removed seven Brautigan books from the school's library and from the developmental reading classroom of a teacher who had taught at the Northern California school for eight years. The school board voted later to ban The Abortion, Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt, and A Confederate General from Big Sur. Not banned were The Revenge of the Lawn and In Watermelon Sugar. The San Francisco American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in October citing bookbanning as censorship. The case was decided in Brautigan's favor in December.
end of January 1978
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura returned to Pine Creek, Montana, where he remained until March.
early February 1978
Brautigan and literary agent Helen Brann decided to delay publication of June 30th, June 30th until mid-October. The collection of poetry, mostly written during Brautigan's first two visits to Japan, was originally scheduled for publication in March. The decision to wait until October meant taking advantage of the entire school year to attract student attention to Brautigan's forthcoming book. More attention meant more potential sales.
Brautigan continued to work on his Montana stories, thinking to collect them, along with stories written while visiting Japan.
Tuesday, 7 March 1978
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura returned to San Francisco, where they spent most of March and April.
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura returned to Pine Creek, Montana, where Brautigan continued working on stories about Montana experiences. Brautigan began thinking that a sequence of stories, some about Montana, some about Japan, would be interesting and dramatic. He began making plans to return to Japan in June where he would write about his observations of life there.
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura returned to San Francisco where Brautigan visited with Marcia Clay and his friends at various bars, all without Akiko, whom he told to stay at home. Such behavior was traditional in Japan, and Brautigan enjoyed his role as husband to a Japanese wife.
Thursday, 1 June 1978
Brautigan arrived in Tokyo, Japan, his third visit to the country. Brautigan stayed at the Keio Plaza Hotel (room 3324) and resumed his routine of exploring and writing by day, drinking heavily at night, and then sleeping late the following day.
Brautigan did not bring his wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura. She remained in San Francisco, visited friends in Seattle, and traveled to Pine Creek, Montana, at the end of June.
end of June 1978
Brautigan was driven to Ajiro, a small fishing village southwest of Tokyo, by Keisuke Nakai, younger brother to Takako Shiina, who accompanied her brother's wife. While there, the group spent a hot afternoon fishing off the coast. Keisuke took a photograph of his sister, nine months pregnant, resting her head on the side of the boat with Brautigan behind, looking back to shore. The photograph was later used on the back cover of The Tokyo-Montana Express.
end of July 1978
Brautigan had written fifty-two new stories for his planned collection.
Tuesday, 1 August 1978
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, California, from Tokyo, Japan.
Friday, 11 August 1978
June 30th, June 30th was published simultaneously in hardcover and paperback. This collection of seventy-seven poems was Brautigan's eighth collection of poetry, his tenth poetry book publication, and the last to be published before his death.
The novel was inspired by Brautigan's trip to Japan in 1976 and is a poetic travel diary of his relationship with Japan. Brautigan was well received in Japan. In America he was out of favor. This collection of travel poems, poems about place, following the Japanese tradition of haibun, a collection of haiku gathered into a story line, was largely ignored.
end of August 1978
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura moved to a new apartment, this one located at 1264 Lombard Street, on Russian Hill, in San Francisco.
end of September 1978
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura traveled to Pine Creek, Montana. Brautigan wanted to be out of town when the ACLU filed suit against the Anderson High School District in Shasta County over their banning of his books in school libraries and classrooms. The suit was filed on 3 October 1978.
Before leaving, Brautigan released a press statement
September 24, 1978
On our Apollo 17 mission to the moon in December, 1972, the astronauts named a crater after a character from one of the books that is forbidden to be taught at Anderson High School. I do not think it is the policy of the United States Government to name the geography of the moon after a character from a dirty book.
The crater is called Shorty.
The book is Trout Fishing in America.
If Trout Fishing in America can get to the moon, I think it should be able to get to Anderson High School.
(William Hjortsberg 617). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan posed for series of publicity photographs taken by Erik Weber for his novel June 30th, June 30th. Brautigan posed on the back deck of his 1439 Kearny Street apartment in San Francisco, California.
Brautigan and Weber met in 1962. Weber photographed Brautigan repeatedly, for both book publicity and story illustrations, until 1978 when, according to Weber, Brautigan ended their friendship.
Feedback from Erik Weber
"I took my last photograph of Brautigan at the Kearny Street apartment, on the back deck, in September, 1978. Richard hated the photos."
— Erik Weber. Email to John F. Barber, 24 May 2005.
Thursday, 9 November 1978
Brautigan completed his purchase of three properties in Livingston, Montana
Route 38; cost $57,585; value $178,000
107 1/2 South 3rd Street; a single-family residence; cost $57,000; value $57,000
311 1/2 West Callender Street; a single-family residence built in 1900; cost $52,000; value $52,000
Brautigan inquired at the Montana State University English Department regarding a residency for himself. A year earlier, the department had hosted Gary Snyder to a weeklong residency at the university in Bozeman, Montana. Faculty member Greg Keeler had left a note on Brautigan's mailbox asking whether he was interested to come to Bozeman for a reading of his works. Now, a year later, Brautigan invited Keeler and two students from the Associated Students of Montana State University to his Pine Creek ranch for dinner and discussion about opportunities. Brautigan negotiated a $4,000 fee for his residency. He and Keeler became good friends. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Keeler.
middle of November 1978
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura returned to San Francisco, California. At the same time, Dell Publishing / Sam Lawrence purchased publication rights to Brautigan's novel A Confederate General from Big Sur from Grove Press. They planned to reissue the book in September 1979.
Brautigan and wife Akiko sent a Christmas card to John and Margot Doss, long-time personal friends with Brautigan. The Dosses owned a home in Bolinas, California, which Brautigan visited prior to his own purchase of a home there. John Doss was a San Francisco medical doctor. Margot Patterson Doss was a writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She organized a surprise birthday party for Brautigan in 1970.
Akiko's hand-written inscription read
Dear Margot & John,
a Happy New Year!!
in next year!
Aki x Richard Brautigan
Brautigan signed his own name, "Richard" on the card.
Margot Doss placed the Christmas card in her copy of Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout, along with a typed letter from Don Merriam Allen to Brautigan mentioning Thomas McGuane's sickness and asking when Brautigan was returning to Bolinas, California, and a newspaper obituary of Brautigan's death in 1984.
Highlights : Participated in MLA panel . . . moved to 2170 Green Street . . . fourth trip to Japan.
Tuesday, 30 January 1979
Brautigan celebrated his forty-fourth birthday at the Albatross Saloon, on Columbus, at the intersection of Kearny and Pacific. Dating back to the turn of the century, the former saloon was a hip San Francisco hangout. At the manager's request, Brautigan wrote a blurb for future advertising that read, "The Albatross Saloon provides a beautiful remembrance of days long since gone in San Francisco, never to return. The Albatross is like eating and drinking in the past" (William Hjortsberg 621). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
first of March 1979
Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) moved into a spacious second story apartment at 2170 Green Street, in the Pacific Heights section of San Francisco.
9-13 April 1979
Brautigan began his week-long residency at Montana State University, in Bozeman, Montana, the second week of April. Brautigan stayed in Bozeman, not at his Pine Creek ranch. Akiko stayed in San Francisco, decorating the couple's new apartment. As the poet-in-residence, Brautigan gave a reading at the Student Union and a presentation at Cheever Hall.
Friday, 13 April 1979
His residency at Montana State University finished, Brautigan returned to San Francisco.
Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) traveled to Tokyo, Japan. Brautigan remained in San Francisco.
William Targ, retired editor in chief of G. P. Putnam's Sons, contacted Helen Brann with an offer to publish a collection of Brautigan's stories. Targ had started a letterpress publishing company for hand-bound, limited, signed editions. He wanted to publish a collection of Brautigan's recent stories in a first edition limited to 350 copies. He would pay Brautigan $1,000. Brautigan selected twenty stories written in 1977 and 1978, titled the collection The Tokyo-Montana Express, and mailed them to Brann by mid-April (William Hjortsberg 630). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
early June 1979
Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) returned from Tokyo, Japan. Brautigan shared with her some preliminary thoughts for a new novel, The Pond People of America, based on his childhood in the Pacific Northwest.
William Targ put The Tokyo-Montana Express into production. Leonard Seastone, of Tideline Press, was hired to handle the typographic design and letterpress printing.
Wednesday, 4 July 1979
Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) returned to Pine Creek, Montana, for the summer season. Tony Dingman arrived soon after and resumed his role as household helper, driver, and Brautigan's drinking partner and literary sounding board. He was followed by Ken Kelley, a writer and Playboy interviewer, whom Brautigan had convinced to learn information about the Anderson High School book banning in return for an interview. Kelley and Brautigan became friends, but Kelley's remarks in a obituary by Warren Hinckle about how living in Montana contributed to Brautigan's depression and violence drew criticism from Brautigan's Montana neighbors.
Richard and Nancy Hodge also visited that summer. As did Jimmy Buffett, Jim Harrison, and Fumio and Mieko Wada, friends from San Francisco.
end of August 1979
Brautigan finished the first draft of So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away by the end of the month. He received 350-plus copies of the colophon page for the Targ edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express for his signature. He took them with him when he and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) returned to San Francisco at the end of the month.
Wednesday, 5 September 1979
Brautigan received a 120-day visa from the Japanese Consulate-General. His planned trip to Japan was supported by the Tokyo office of the International Communication Agency who arranged from Brautigan to participate in a cultural program conducted by the American Embassy. Brautigan planned to leave mid-month. This was Brautigan's fourth trip to Japan. He did not tell his wife, Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), that he would be gone for three months. He told her that she needed to remain in San Francisco as a requirement of her application for American citizenship (William Hjortsberg 639). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan, in Tokyo, checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel, where he had a room on the thirty-fifth floor. He resumed his regular habits of exploring during the days and drinking at The Cradle nights.
Bruce Conner visited Japan for a month, hosted by the International Communication Agency to present his short, experimental films. He stayed on the same floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel as Brautigan and the two spent time together. Although they had planned before leaving San Francisco to work on a film together in Tokyo, they made no progress, and abandoned the project.
Monday, 1 October 1979
Brautigan delivered a program called "My Life, My Book" at the Tokyo American Center. The event was arranged by the United States International Communications Agency to promote educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and foreign nations. Brautigan's presentation was a reprise of one delivered in September, at the American Center in Sapparo. Bruce Conner was there, along with Takako Shiina, and members of his wife's Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) family (William Hjortsberg 641). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Wednesday, 10 October 1979
Brautigan delivered a reading at Jean Jean, a performance center in the Yamate Church in Shibuya-ku. Brautigan shared the stage with Shuntarõ Tanikawa (William Hjortsberg 642). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
The time in Japan was productive for Brautigan. Altogether he wrote seventy-nine stories about his everyday experiences there. Such experiences were always the source of Brautigan's creativity and he delighted in recording his observations in a pocket-sized notebook. He titled the manuscript Tokyo Stories, Brautigan. At first, he thought they might add to The Tokyo-Montana Express. They were not included and this collection of Brautigan's stories about Japan remains unpublished.
Brautigan met Akiyuki Nosaka, a Japanese writer, singer, and actor, at the The Cradle. Brautigan was to deliver a presentation at the American Center in Kyoto while Nosaka was to deliver a lecture at the Yonago hospital. The two writers decided to travel together. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Akiyoshi.
Tuesday, 30 October 1979
Brautigan and Nosaka departed from Tokyo aboard the bullet train, "Hikari #6," to Kyoto where, at Mineyama, they transferred to a local train, "Tango #8," bound for Yonago where Nosaka delivered a lecture at the local hospital. Nosaka later wrote a fictionalized memoir of their experiences and discussions. According to Nosaka, Brautigan, referred to as "QJ" in the essay, sang "Rock around the Clock" and "Buttons and Ribbons" at a karaoke bar following Nosaka's lecture. On 31 October, they returned from Yonago to Kyoto where, perhaps shaken after witnessing a suicide at the hospital, and the train striking an 8-year-old boy at a crossing, they decided to go separate ways. They parted company on the Mineyama train platfrom. Brautigan was to deliver a lecture at the American Centre in Kyoto. Nosaka went home to Tokyo. Nasaka's essay, "Nichibeisakegassen [Japan-USA Drinking Battle]" was published in Bungei Shujyu in December 1979. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Akiyoshi.
Wednesday, 31 October 1979
Brautigan delivered a presentation at the American Center in Kyoto. Traveling to Kyoto, the train struck an 8-year-old boy at a crossing, who was only slightly injured. Nasaka fictionalized the accident saying the boy committed suicide by walking in front of the train.
Friday, 9 November 1979
Brautigan wrote "Japanese UFO," the title story for a planned novel about Japanese pornographic movies, of which he was a great fan. Although he wrote more stories, the book was never published.
Sunday, 18 November 1979
Brautigan departed Tokyo, Japan, bound for San Francisco, California. During his sixty-six day visit, Brautigan wrote a total of seventy-nine new stories. They remain unpublished.
The Targ edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express was delayed to accommodate Brautigan's corrections to the galley proofs. Originally planned for a Christmas release, the book was rescheduled for a spring 1980 release.
Tuesday, 4 December 1979
Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife, separated, living apart, she in Los Angeles, Brautigan in San Francisco. They were married on 1 December 1977 in Port Richmond, California. They entered divorce proceedings on 10 January 1980 and were officially divorced 12 November 1980.
Saturday, 29 December 1979
At 94th annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) in San Francisco, in December, Brautigan participated in a panel discussion concerning the importance of Zen Buddhism to American Literature. This special event, titled "Zen and Contemporary Poetry," held at 9:00 pm, in Plaza Square of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in the Embarcadero Center, included Robert Bly, Gary Snyder, Lucien Stark, Philip Whalen, and Brautigan as speakers. A listing of this program is included in the Directory of PMLA 94(6) Nov. 1979: 1133. The session was chaired by Dennis Lynch, then a graduate student at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. This was one of Brautigan's several teaching or conference experiences.
Highlights: The Tokyo-Montana Express published . . . Divorces second wife, Akiko . . . writer in residence at University of Colorado Boulder . . . gives up Green Street apartment . . . Participates in readings and promotional tours for The Tokyo-Montana Express.
Thursday, 10 January 1980
Citing irreconcilable differences, Brautigan filed a petition for divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife. They were married 1 December 1979, at Port Richmond, California, and separated on 4 December 1979. In court documents signed 9 January by Brautigan, he sought to retain copyrights to his poetry, books, short stories, and screen plays; sole ownership of his Montana and Bolinas, California, properties; all rights to his contract rights and royalties; the award of attorney's fees and costs; and relief from spousal support.
end of January 1980
Seeking to elevate The Tokyo-Montana Express from a collection of short stories to a novel, Brautigan added several previously published works to the evolving manuscript. This, Brautigan hoped, would distance this proposed book from the small collection of short stories to be published by William Targ. At the end of the month, Brautigan sent the manuscript to his literary agent, Helen Brann, who forwarded it to Dell Publishing. Not expecting Dell to publish the book, Brann made a deal with Seymour Lawrence, confirming a $35,000 advance to Brautigan upon contract signing.
Monday, 28 January 1980
Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) filed court documents seeking spousal support from Brautigan equivalent to the luxurious standard of living the couple enjoyed before their separation.
Thursday, 31 January 1980
Brautigan and Marcia Clay hosted an art and poetry reading party at Brautigan's 2170 Green Street apartment. Clay showed sixty of her paintings created over the past decade. Brautigan read poems written during the same time period. The party attracted more than 300 people. One was Alexander Besher who wrote a weekly business column for The San Francisco Chronicle. He and Clay met, started spending time together, and were married by the end of the year. This was the end of Brautigan's relationship with Clay.
Allegedly, Brautigan flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he visited the anthropology museum at the University of British Columbia and watched Chinese movies in Chinatown (William Hjortsberg 656 and An Unfortunate Woman 7, 21). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Tuesday, 12 February 1980
The details regarding publication of The Tokyo-Montana Express were finalized by Brautigan's literary agent, Helen Brann and Seymour Lawrence. In addition to the advance already agreed, Brautigan was to receive another $25,000 if Dell or Laurel published a paperback edition. Additionally, he was to receive a 15 percent royalty on all hardback sales and retain all other rights. Publication date was set for October 1980.
The Targ limited edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express was published. The edition was limited to 350 copies, each priced at $50.00
Tuesday, 11 March 1980
Brautigan filed his Income and Expense Declaration papers with San Francisco County Superior Court in response to a request by attorneys for Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) who sought to determine Brautigan's financial ability to pay spousal support.
Thursday, 13 March 1980
Brautigan, who had filed a request that he be relieved of spousal support and attorney fees and costs was dealt a defeat when the court awarded Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) $1,900.00 per month in spousal support. The decision was made based on Brautigan's gross income, so his efforts to position some of his income as money owned but withheld from previous years, before he met Akiko, and therefore not eligible, were unsuccessful.
Monday, 24 March 1980
Brautigan filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Clarification, apparently in response to Akiko's earlier request for spousal support.
Tuesday, 1 April 1980
Brautigan rented a second story studio, above the entrance to Vesuvio Café, 255 Columbus, across the alley from City Lights Books. Cost: $125.00/month (William Hjortsberg 658). In March 1981, Roger Ressmeyer photographed Brautigan in this studio office, apparently for use in the promotional campaign associated with the publication of the Delacorte edition of The Tokyo-Montana Express. See below for these photographs. Brautigan moved the remaining items from his 2170 Green Street apartment into the the Army Street Mini-Storage, under the Southern Embarcadero Freeway. His storage unit was A-32; cost: $90.00 per month. Gone from the Green Street apartment, Brautigan rented a room at a cheap residential hotel in North Beach, where he attempted to commit suicide by ingesting pills (William Hjortsberg 661). See References > Biographies > Hjorstberg.
Tuesday, 8 April 1980
Brautigan filed a Request for Admission of Facts and Genuineness of Documents seeking that Akiko admit the truth of his ownership prior to their marriage of the Bolinas property, that his literary work was created prior to their marriage, and that he did not edit, amend, or update of these works during their marriage. His intent was to establish separate ownership to these properties.
Thursday, 17 April 1980
Following a 13 March 1980 hearing, and receipt of income and expense statements from both Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), Brautigan was ordered to pay $1,900.00 per month, one-half of the net cash flow from the rental of the house located at 6 Terrace Drive, Bolinas, California, and one-half of any income from community property beginning 1 February 1980 through October 1980, or the date of the divorce trial. Brautigan was also ordered to pay for Akiko's legal expenses.
Friday, 25 April 1980
Brautigan fired his lawyer, Sandra Musser, and hired Joel A. Shawn to handle his divorce proceedings.
early June 1980
Brautigan corrected the galley proofs for The Tokyo-Montana Express. Uncorrected proofs were sent to critics, editors, and, at Brautigan's request, other creative people including Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Walter Cronkite, and Bob Dylan (William Hjortsberg 663). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg/
Friday, 6 June 1980
Brautigan participated in the Fourth Annual San Francisco International Poetry Festival sponsored in part by City Lights Books. The festival was held Friday-Sunday, 6-8 June 1980, in the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina. This poster, promoting the festival, notes Brautigan's participation at 8:00 PM, Friday, 6 June. Artwork by Frances Butler.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, publisher, and co-owner of City Lights Books was straightforward in his assessment of Brautigan's literary skills, saying, "As an editor I was always waiting for Richard to grow up as a writer. It seems to me he was essentially a naif, and I don't think he cultivated that childishness, I think it came naturally" (Peter Manso and Michael McClure 65). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Manso.
Conger Beasley, Jr. agreed. Of Brautigan, he said, "He was a close to being a genuine naif as contemporary American culture is likely to produce. He relied on his marvelous instincts to propel him through a story; that, plus his droll humor and off-beat characters, gave his novels a funky rhythm" (Conger Beasely 3). See References > Critiques > Beasley.
Tuesday, 17 June 1980
A trial setting conference regarding Brautigan's pending divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa).
Wednesday, 18 June 1980
Brautigan's deposition scheduled for 1 July 1980, in the offices of his lawyer, San Francisco, California. Akiko's deposition scheduled for 3 July, in the offices of her lawyer, San Francisco. Brautigan submitted his deposition on 2 July 1980.
Tuesday, 1 July 1980
Brautigan was deposed in the office of his lawyer, Joel A. Shawn, by the lawyer for his wife, Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa). She was deposed on 3 July.
Brautigan left as quickly as possible for Pine Creek, Montana, after his deposition. There, he started an affair with neighbor Marian Hjortsberg, whose husband, William "Gatz" Hjortsberg, had left her after starting an affair with another woman.
Four Japanese radio journalists arrived at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch unannounced, wanting to interview Brautigan and record various sounds at his Montana home. They represented FM Tokyo and Pioneer stereo equipment and had come to record a commercial for the Pioneer "Lonesome Carboy" car stereo system. The finished commercial included sounds of steam engines and Brautigan promoting his upcoming book, The Tokyo-Montana Express. Terry McDonell wrote about this visit in his article, "Fish This", for Sports Afield, April 1999. See Trout Fishing in America > Reviews > McDonell.
Seymour Lawrence visited Brautigan to discuss the evolving plans for his upcoming promotional tour. Lawrence had arranged speaking appearances for Brautigan at various small, little-known colleges, at $1,500 per appearance. Book signings were planned and books and posters were shipped to Denver and Boulder, Colorado, bookstores in time for Brautigan's upcoming residency at the University of Colorado Boulder.
mid-July-1 August 1980
Brautigan visited Boulder, Colorado, as writer-in-residence at the University of Colorado Boulder. The residency was arranged by Edward Dorn, author of "In Memoriam: Richard Brautigan" (The Denver Post Empire Magazine May 19; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Dorn) and his wife Jennifer Dunbar Dorn author of "The Perfect American" (The Denver Post Empire Magazine May 19, 1985; See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Jennifer Dorn).
Both had been in Boulder since the fall of 1977. Brautigan stayed at the Hotel Boulderado, in a choice corner room. He visited the Dorn's daily at their home at 1035 Mapleton in Boulder. One of the many people Brautigan met there was Brad Donovan, a former student of Ed Dorn's. Brautigan invited Donovan and his wife Georgia to visit him in Montana. Donovan wrote about some of their experiences in his memoir "Food Stamps for the Stars" (See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Donovan) and his tribute "Brautigan & The Eagles" (See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Tributes > Donovan).
Saturday, 19 July 1980
While in Boulder, Brautigan gave a small reading and talk at the Chautauqua Auditorium. In a photograph by Mark Billingsley, Brautigan signs books following the reading.
Sunday, 20 July 1980
At a party hosted in his honor by Ginger Perry at her house at 744 University, Brautigan met Masako Kano, a Japanese summer exchange student pursuing a masters degree in English Literature at Hofstra University in New York City. Through the student exchange program, Kano was in Boulder for the summer taking two English literature courses for credit and conducting research on her thesis topic, the plays of William Butler Yeats, at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Brautigan and Kano became involved and spent time together in Boulder. According to Kano, Brautigan left once, alone, for San Francisco, "for his usual lecture or poetry reading" (Email to John F. Barber, 26 July 2011), but it is more likely that Brautigan returned to San Francisco for a court appearance or a meeting with his lawyer with regard to his pending divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa).
Friday, 1 August 1980
Both Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) signed a Marital Settlement Agreement in San Francisco County Superior Court. By terms of the agreement, Brautigan was to pay $1400.00 per month spousal support starting 1 August 1980 and continuing through 31 December 1981, or until Akiko's death or remarriage. Beginning 1 January 1981, Akiko agreed to waive any right to receive any money or property from Brautigan as spousal support. Both parties agreed that no other court would have jurisdiction to award spousal support to be paid by Brautigan to Akiko as a result of any relationship or transaction between them prior to that date.
Brautigan and Akiko were each awarded half of their community property as well as defined separate property. Brautigan's separate property included four properties in Livingston, Montana; one property in Bolinas, California; interest in, right to, and profit from June 30th, June 30th, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, Dreaming of Babylon, The Abortion, Revenge of the Lawn, Sombrero Fallout, Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork, The Hawkline Monster, A Confederate General from Big Sur, Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt, The Tokyo-Montana Express, Willard and His Bowling Trophies, The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, Lay the Marble Tea, The Octopus Frontier, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, and Please Plant This Book; works in progress: The Tokyo-Montana Express (Targ edition), So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, and Japanese UFO; his fly fishing rods, reel, and line; and his 1969 Plymouth Fury automobile.
Back in Montana after his residency at the University of Colorado Boulder, Brautigan sent Masako Kano an airplane ticket for her flight to Bozeman. Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe visited as well and she and Kano, being about the same age, become good friends.
Brautigan participated in Poets and Other Strangers—Readings by Poets at Chico Hot Springs Hotel, Chico Hot Springs, Montana. Greg Keeler recruited Brautigan to participate. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Keeler. Brautigan read his poem, "Two Guys Get Out of a Car," among others (William Hjortsberg 680-681). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Monday, 1 September 1980
Brautigan and Masako hosted a Labor Day party at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch. Brautigan cooked Swedish meatballs.
Feedback from Masako Kano
"In Boulder, I lived with Joyce Lebra, a professor in the university History Department and a very good friend of my father, Masamichi Kano. I called her Joycie Obachan (Auntie Joyce) as a young child, and she gave me a pretty American play doll with blond curly hair and blue eyes with long eyelashes. None of my kindergarten friends in Tokyo had anything like that. She was the last person to interview Mishima Yukio, avant-garde novelist, three-time candidate for the Nobel Prize for literature, before he committed ritual suicide following his failed coup d'état attempt with four followers at the headquarters of the Japanese Defense Force, Tokyo, 25 November 1970. I helped her with translations for her research on Japanese military history while she was a resident researcher at Tokyo University in 1978.
"At the party where we met, Richard introduced himself as a writer and asked if I knew his name, I just shook my head because I had never heard anything about his works. I read the introduction of June 30th, June 30th to his friends and remember how silence fell in the room. I thought this anachronistic looking poet must have many followers. Later, he insisted that I show him the poems and prose I wrote in English for my university's serendipity magazine and he discussed them with Ed and Jennifer Dorn. This was my first notice of Richard's trait of discussing matters associated with me with other senior friends, either in person or through long distance telephone calls, while never sharing anything concrete about what he really thought of me.
"After a whimsical courtship involving a stuffed bear's head given him by a female friend [Simone Ellis] in Boulder, I ceremoniously became Richard's girlfriend. My parents and Joyce were very concerned about my involvement with Richard and to this date his name is atop the proud Kano clan's secret list because with this affair I intentionally broke the marriage engagement with another political family arranged by my grandfather when I was a baby.
"We left Boulder in August, after arranging permissions from Joyce Lebra and my father. Richard had an intense meeting with Joyce to negotiate the whole procedure, and finally she persuaded my father on the phone. Richard spoke with him on the phone too. Richard told my father that he [Richard] had a daughter similar in age to me and he understood how my father felt. I was quite fed up with them discussing my fate because it seemed that the affair that was supposed to make me a free woman still conjured all sorts of negotiations between elders, including Richard. But he was a kind of samurai responsible for me going to Montana, Big Sky, so in that sense, he seemed quite a traditional guy. It was not actually helping me to be a liberated feminist as my Auntie Joyce hoped for me! We went to Yellowstone National Park together and then to his Montana ranch. He told me a story of camping in Yellowstone and how a grizzly bear's shadow flickered on the canvas wall of the tent as the bear passed in front of the fading campfire.
"There in Montana, I met Richard's friends. I had never met people wearing cowboy boots and guns on their hips. It was like a movie set for me. Richard's friends were glad to see me and very nice and open hearted but I felt more like Richard's exotic pet than a real girlfriend being so much younger than most everyone except for Ianthe.
"Richard was wonderful at entertaining me in very charming and creative ways. He once exhibited a collection of wonderful musical instruments borrowed from Dobro Dick and decorated the table with daisies for me. We hosted some parties. He liked cooking beef stroganoff with fresh dills and sour cream. I tried some smoked trout sushi and curried rice. He once showed me how to cut mushrooms in the traditional Japanese way with a very sharp knife. We also did a lot of fun outdoor things like flying kites with his friends' children, and trout fishing, sometimes with Greg Keeler, sometimes without. Richard liked taking a nap on a rock when we fished little streams alone and asked me to sing while he lay quietly by the side of the stream. I sang Japanese nursery songs, school choir songs in English, and Franz Schubert's 'Ave Maria,' oddly his favorite, over the sound of the stream. He showed me how to shoot cans with a BB gun in the backyard, but I preferred to go fishing. I noticed the bullet holes in the kitchen wall and saw where he stored his rifles. I preferred to be outside, reading on a blanket, than to be inside the house while Richard worked in his writing room in the barn. Sometimes, I sat on the stairs in front of the barn, listening to the sound of his typewriter, watching the gorgeous sunset over the Montana mountains to the west, strangely feeling at home, for I grew up listening to the sound of the typewriter my father constantly used for his writings and translations.
"Richard at that time was in a great deal of pain because of his divorce from his wife, Akiko. I saw this pain for the first time in Montana when he talked on the telephone with her, or his lawyer. I did not feel jealous or upset, but rather frightened about the love turned into so much pain. One day I found a letter from Akiko's aunt, left open on an empty shelf in the living room, written in Japanese, which Richard could not read. Akiko's aunt encouraged her to keep growing cabbage in the garden. I went to see the garden in which they tried to grow fresh produce. It was abandoned. All the plants were dried and lifeless. I felt a kind of loneliness for Akiko through reading that letter. The physical condition of that letter seemed to suggest that it had been read many times. I felt the euphoric love of a midsummer's night dream between Richard and myself in Boulder was slowly fading away inside the coolness of his Montana house. Outside, the aspen trees in the fields turned a bright yellow color.
"Deviating from the memory in Montana, here perhaps I should explain a bit about my paternal family background. My paternal grandfather, Kizo Kano, was the chief editor of the newspaper called Nishi-Nippon Shinbun, which before the war was the top circulated newspaper in the southern island of Kyushu. Before World War II, he published several books of his own, as well as translations from English and German, on foreign affairs, political geology, and education. My grandfather Kizo was a true academic, and romantic. He recited the poems of Hakushu Kitahara to his grandchildren, studied at Berlin University and wrote beautifully in English and German. However he was drowning in political activities because of his friendships with Shigemaru Sugiyama, Seigo Nakano, Tanzan Ishibashi, Taketora Ogata, and the Genyosha group.
"My father went to Shuyuksn High School, where the son of Sugiyama and the writer Kyusaku Yumeno also attended. He shared the same sentiments with another son of Sugiyama, Tatsumaru, about the heavy political shadows their fathers threw into their lives after the war. Tatsumaru Sugiyama, in my opinion, was a brave hero of postwar conscience with its theme of pacifism and ecology of the Earth, which, if my father were still alive, he would share. Prominently multilingual, my father took a job translating for the USA medical doctors who came to treat 'hibakushia' patients and conduct research at the Atomic Bomb Centre hospital in Nagasaki. His mentor, Father Joseph Roggendorf at Sophia University where he assisted as a lecturer in English Studies, introduced him to this job. This work helped to support the family, especially since grandfather Kizo was not able to work during the occupation period under General Douglas Macarthur. My father had to swear not to share any information about his work with anyone outside the hospital.
"He hated to be involved in the political game like his father and so left his birthplace, Fukuoka, and started working as a journalist in Tokyo. He wrote regularly for the Oriental Economist and The Study of Current English. He was also famous for his technical translations among fast moving multinational companies like NEC and Fujitsu in the 1970s. He could translate in twelve different languages. He helped his friend Shinji Takano to compile a book in English on Japanese wild birds in the 1970s. He was also an avid chess player. My father died of acute stomach cancer, in July 1982, at 56. I sometimes wonder if his involvement helping those doctors at the Atomic Bomb Centre hospital made his life shorter than it supposed to be, since he would have been exposed to the still very strong radiation at that time. I was very close to my father and his death was a great loss to me. Richard consoled me in very beautiful way on the phone after the funeral of my father and sent me a caring, personal letter. It was actually my father's death that brought Richard and I close together again as it prompted him to visit Japan.
"Shuntarõ Tanikawa, Shuji Terayama, Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, and Akiyoshi Nosaka (See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Akiyoshi) were frequent guests and patrons of the Cradle Bar in Roppongi owned and managed by Richard's friend Shinna Takako. He went there almost every night while in stayed in the expensive Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. They were a bit younger than my father's generation, as they were still middle school students at the end of the war. But the wound of growing up in post World War II Japan was felt strongly in conversations and writers' talks with Richard whose first impression of Japan was the Pearl Harbor attack and the death of his uncle in the war as he described in the introduction to June 30th, June 30th. When Richard returned to Japan and saw me again in 1983 and 1984, we often talked about Japanese modern literature in the sense of how to reconstruct identities after the enemy (America) turned into material God for the Japanese youth.
"Richard's fascination with Japan has been generalized, even mocked, in reviews of his work and in obituaries after his death. Several writers assumed his attraction to Japan was that of a poet's imagination of exotic places, or his attraction to Japanese females. I assure you it was not. Like most American writers who visit Japan, Richard could not read Japanese, but he read Japanese literature extensively in English translation when he was young and developed a deep understanding of past and current Japanese writers and literature. Richard seemed to have been helped to understand Japanese culture, literature, and art mainly from interaction with Takako Shiina (often referred to as Richard's Japanese sister) and her admirers, including writer Junnosuke Yoshiyuki and other contemporary writers and modernist poets like Shuntarõ Tanikawawho who patronized her bar, The Cradle, as well as the directors of independent theaters and movies.
"Richard was delighted that he had found a younger headstrong Japanese girlfriend who shared his passion for talking about the literary world. However, literary tastes between Richard and me were very different. I recall with a smile that he was rather terrified one day when he found out that in the book Modern American Literary Criticism he was placed neck to neck with Vladimir Nabokov who was my father's and my favorite writer at home. Papa read from the book to me in Russian.
"I have no idea why Richard hated Nabokov so much, for he could not explain it clearly when I asked. Perhaps he did not approve of the media controversy surrounding Lolita , especially its banning. I remember that we argued about the book Richard did not read, Glory, translated by Nabokov's son into English in 1971. My father mentioned the original title is something like 'exploit.' I thought the ending scene of Martin Edelweiss disappearing across border into the Soviet Union in the snow was so absolutely wonderful, but Richard dismissed my comment with his snort! Perhaps he just had to deny all those writers with Cornell, Harvard, and Yale university backgrounds ignoring other regional writers who also published novels.
"Discussing Japanese literature was much more fun for Richard and he even forgot to fill his drink while we argued. Richard must have thought of me a rather odd fish. With all 1980s economic glories shining in Tokyo, I, much younger than Richard, who was praised as the futuristic deconstructionist writer, and stood like an aloof worrier, often argued with him, defending the old fashioned attitude that literature needs to have a moral value in its core. I argued that despite the idiosyncrasy of Mishima's private life, his novels deepened the understanding of human nature, and to me, were not comparable with Richard's favorite, 'Dark Room' by Junichiro Yoshiyuki, or work by Osamu Dazai, or the plays of Shuji Terayama. I introduced Richard to Terayama's beautiful 'tankas,' Japanese traditional formatted poems, which were less famous than his plays and movies. He really enjoyed me translating them into English after I read them to him in Japanese.
"My favorite Japanese writer in the group of Richard's friends' was Hiroyuki Itsuki who was not really known outside of Japan, but wrote beautifully of the human pains and hopes to survive through catastrophes. His recent works show how he matured to seek the calmness and balance in Buddhism. I wished Richard would have known him. He was a young survivor of Soviet invasion of Manchuria in 1945. He was also from Kyushu Island. Richard was more attentive of me explaining other writers in 'the Third Generation,' in which his friend Junnosuke Yoshiyuki was included, especially those writers whose main novels were not translated into English. I also shared with Richard my favorite writers at that time, Kunio Tsuji (not the poet who became Richard's friend, but the novelist), Natsuki Ikezawa, Sawako Ariyoshi, Ayako Sono, and Yoshimi Usui whose work prompted us to visit together the countryside near Azumino, in Nagano prefecture, when Richard visited Japan in 1983.
"Like we did in Pine Creek, Montana, we strolled through the stream of people on the Yamanote platform, the street of Omotesando, and through Yasukuni Shinto shrine and park, continuing our heated discussion until the skies got dark and I had to go home to my mother and Richard, after escorting me to the ticket booth of Keio Private Line, went to the Cradle Bar and another night of deep drinking in Roppongi.
"Now back to Montana, in October 1980. My parents flew from Tokyo to New York City for my father's lecture tour organized by the Buddhist Educational Fund and Professor Fukuoka of Rissho University. I flew to New York to see my parents. Richard made me swear that I would return to him. He planned to arrange that I could finish my thesis while attending Montana State University as an exchange student. I remember Richard was planning a lecture tour and was worried about how to protect my identity. He had promised my father not to reveal my identity.
"In New York, my parents and university administrators convinced me that I needed to return to my graduate studies in order to keep my assistantship, which I depended upon for access to research materials. My father told me that he would not provide the money for my living expenses if I returned to Montana. So, I had to call Richard and tell him that I would not return to Montana. I was torn by this decision, as I really wanted to be different, but I knew that I needed to finish by educational degree. After I graduated, I returned to Tokyo, Japan.
"So, Richard and I went separate paths. We stayed in touch through letters and met again in January 1983 and May 1984 when Richard visited Tokyo. My last contact with Richard was a hand-written note from him saying he would come back to Japan in the fall of 1984.
"I must confess that I became Richard's girlfriend totally oblivious about his fame and his writings. In a way, the Richard I loved was not a famous writer, but just what he was as a man, and perhaps, a born poet. I got quite irritated if his ego blew out of size and was not afraid of saying so to him. Not all of his writings are literary masterpieces. I loved his poetry rather than prose after I started reading his books, though Marc Chéntier's study made me think more deeply about his style. (Richard came back from Paris and made me read aloud the English translation of Marc's book for him). I praise Richard's friend Don Carpenter's novel Hard Rain Falling for how he, like Richard, and other anti-East Coast writers achieved a common protagonist's honest voice. I myself have written some short stories in English recently, and find that poetic diction can provide such a base without the psychological nitty gritty. That was exactly what Richard conveyed in his prose writing. Though I think I am far more political than Richard as the content goes.
"I will end with a poem dedicated to Richard. If the American Dust website is for holding a torch for the spirit of the poet/writer, Richard's ghost would like to read the poem dedicated to him by his Puck, the nickname he gave me from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream.
From every walk of life you could find me
You were a wind, a transparent wind,
It is not necessary to build
A wall of words between us.
From every walk of life we just left us,
One alone stopped on that open road
Winding up to a promised sky,
Wondered, if we would ever dream us?
Half inside of one thunderous night,
Our hide-and-seek in hunter's woods
Warped, danced and scratched us.
Only the heat of embrace remains . . .
From every walk of life I see you through me
You are the wind, the transparent wind,
No, it is not necessary to build
A wall of words between us.
Masako Kano, July 30, 2011
Buenos Aires, Argentina
— Masako Kano. Emails to John F. Barber, 26, 27, 28, 29 July 2011.
Thursday, 18 September 1980
The Marital Settlement Agreement between Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) was amended regarding the language of spousal support. Simplified and streamlined, the amended language stated that spousal support could not be modified by either party or any court having jurisdiction to award spousal support on any ground. Akiko signed the document on 23 September 1980; Brautigan on 24 September 1980.
Masako Kano left Montana and returned to Hofstra University, under pressure from her family. Brautigan tried to convince her to transfer to Montana State University, in Bozeman, Montana, and complete her graduate studies there. It was clear, however, to both she and Brautigan knew that she would not return. They remained friends, meeting in Tokyo, Japan, in 1983 and 1984. Kano was with Brautigan at the Keio Plaza Hotel while he typed the poem "Night Flowing River" and assisted both Brautigan and Shuntarõ Tanigawa who translated the poem into Japanese for its first publication in Asahi Shinbun, the top-circulated newspaper in Japan at the time.
Cheryl McCall, a writer for People Weekly magazine, arrived to write an article about the actors, writers, and artists living in Paradise Valley, Montana. Her article, "Bloomsbury Comes to Big Sky," was published 3 November 1980.
Photographer Michael Abramson accompanied McCall and photographed Brautigan fishing Armstrong Creek with artist and painter Russell Chatham, who, in his memoir "Dust to Dust" (Dark Waters. Clark City Press, 1988, pp. 28-34) recounts Brautigan as fragile and sensitive, not a macho hunter. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Chatham.
Abramson also photographed Brautigan sitting with his daughter, Ianthe, in front of his barn. The photograph was used later, on the front cover of Ianthe's You Can't Catch Death. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Ianthe. A similar photograph appeared later in People magazine, illustrating "Author Richard Brautigan Apparently Takes His Own Life, But He Leaves a Rich Legacy," a tribute by James Seymore (12 November 1984). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Seymore.
Steve Chapple visited Brautigan in Pine Creek, for an interview to be published in The San Francisco Chronicle as part of the promotional efforts surrounding the forthcoming publication of The Tokyo-Montana Express.
Near the end of the month, Brautigan returned to San Francisco, where he took a room at the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district.
Thursday, 30 October 1980
The San Francisco County Superior Court approved the Marital Settlement Agreement between Brautigan and Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa). Brautigan signed the court document on this date in San Francisco, California.
Saturday, 1 November 1980
Excerpts from Brautigan's forthcoming The Tokyo-Montana Express were published in California Living, the magazine section of The Chronicle. These excerpts included "California Mailman," "The Beacon," "Open," "The Butcher," and "Sunday." The article was entitled "Five Stops on the Tokyo-Montana Express."
Sunday, 2 November 1980
Brautigan began a speaking and book signing tour in support of The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan took an evening airplane flight to Seattle/Tacoma, Washington.
Monday, 3 November 1980
Brautigan signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express in the afternoon at Walden Books in the Tacoma Mall. At 8:00 PM, Brautigan gave a reading at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington. After the reading, Brautigan was interviewed by Jim Erickson from the Tacoma News Tribune.
Tuesday, 4 November 1980
Brautigan took a morning flight to St. Louis, Missouri. From there he took a flight to Memphis, Tennessee, and from there he flew to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he gave a reading to students from the honors college at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Wednesday, 5 November 1980
Brautigan took an early morning flight to Atlanta, Georgia, where he transferred to a flight to Los Angeles, California. From Los Angeles, he flew to Eugene, Oregon, his first return to his boyhood hometown since he left in 1956. He gave an evening reading at the University of Oregon.
Thursday, 6 November 1980
After a 9:00 AM book signing party at the University of Oregon bookstore, Brautigan flew back to San Francisco, California.
The Tokyo-Montana Express was printed in October (three printings; 30,000 hardback copies by 22 October) but officially released on this date. To celebrate, Seymour Lawrence and Delacorte Press arranged a party at Enrico's from 3:00-7:00 PM. During the event, Brautigan met Eunice Kitagawa, a young Hawaiian woman, and connected immediately. They remained friends for the rest of Brautigan's life.
As part of the promotional effort, an interview by Steve Chapple, drawn from his visit with Brautigan in Pine Creek, Montana, in October, appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle Review, along with photographs of Brautigan and Enrico Banducci, owner of Enrico's.
Friday, 7 November 1980
Brautigan's divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife, earned a final judgement in San Francisco County Superior Court. The judgement was filed 10 November and entered into Court records 12 November 1980.
Sunday, 9 November 1980
Brautigan traveled to Boise, Idaho, where he gave an 8:00 PM reading to students at Boise State University.
Monday, 10 November 1980
Brautigan met with an undergraduate class at Boise State University before attending an autograph part at the Book Shop on Boise's Main Street. In the afternoon, Brautigan flew to Denver, and then took a connecting flight to Newark, New Jersey. He spent the night in New York City.
Tuesday, 11 November 1980
Brautigan traveled by commuter train to Pougkeepsie, New York, where he gave an 8:00 PM reading in the Dutchess Hall Theatre at Dutchess Community College.
Wednesday, 12 November 1980
Brautigan flew to New York in the morning, and then on to Chicago, Illinois. He gave an 8:00 PM reading in the Ironwood Room at Triton College, in River Grove, a suburb of Chicago.
Thursday, 13 November 1980
Brautigan signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express from noon until 1:00 PM. He then flew to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a five-day residency at the University of Nebraska.
Friday, 14 November 1980
Brautigan signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Nebraska Book Store.
Michael Zangari, a reporter for the Daily Nebraskan, the daily student newspaper at the University of Nebraska, wrote an account Brautigan's appearance at the Nebraska Bookstore. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Zangari.
Sunday, 16 November 1980
Brautigan flew from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Chicago, Illinois, and from there, on to Seattle, Washington. He signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express from 1:00 to 2:30 PM at the B. Dalton Bookstore in Alderwood Mall at Lynnwood, Washington. From there he was driven to Everett Community College, in Everett, Washington, where he met with a class in the late afternoon. He gave reading in Bookstore Conference Room at 7:30 PM, and signed copies of his newest novel, after which he signed copies of his newest novel.
Monday, 17 November 1980
Brautigan took an early morning flight from Seattle, Washington, to Missoula, Montana, where he signed copies of The Tokyo-Montana Express at 3:00 PM at the B. Dalton Bookstore in Southgate Mall. Brautigan spoke and read in the University Center Ballroom at the University of Montana at 8:00 PM. As with all his previous appearances, Brautigan was paid a $1,500 fee, plus 15 percent of all sales of hardback copies of his newest novel.
Tuesday, 18 November 1980
Brautigan flew to Denver, Colorado, and was driven to Greeley where he gave an 8:00 PM reading at the University of Northern Colorado.
Wednesday, 19 November 1980
Brautigan flew from Denver to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was driven to Conway to Hendricks University. Brautigan delivered his standard reading/presentation at 8:00 PM.
Saturday, 22 November 1980
Brautigan flew from Little Rock, Arkansas, to New York City. He arranged for Eunice Kitagawa to fly from San Francisco and join him for the weekend. They stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Kitagawa returned to San Francisco in time for work on Monday.
Monday, 24 November 1980
Brautigan participated in a 8:00 PM poetry reading at the Kaufman Concert Hall, 92nd Street YM-YWHA, New York. Robert Creeley introduced Brautigan. A book signing followed.
Tuesday, 25 November 1980
Brautigan missed a 1:00 PM book signing at Brentano's in Greenwich Village because he was feeling ill. Brautigan called Kitagawa and invited her to join him in New York for Thanksgiving. She flew from San Francisco on Wednesday night, after work.
Thursday, 27 November 1980
Brautigan, Eunice Kitagawa, Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe, and her boyfriend, Paul Swensen, celebrated Thanksgiving by ordering room service and eating in Brautigan's Gramercy Park Hotel room.
Saturday, 29 November 1980
Brautigan and Kitagawa joined Norman Mailer for dinner at his Brooklyn Heights apartment.
Sunday, 30 November 1980
Brautigan was interviewed in his Gramercy Park Hotel room by Spencer Vibbert of the Boston Globe who wanted a story for the Tuesday edition to coincide with Brautigan's upcoming visit to Boston.
Monday, 1 December 1980
Brautigan taped an interview with David Cole for his program Here Come the Seventies aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this morning. In the afternoon, he taped an interview with Gil Fox for ABC radio. In the evening, he flew to Boston, Massachusetts, and checked into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel overlooking the Boston Public Garden.
Tuesday, 2 December 1980
Brautigan met with Joe Fischer, a reporter for the Toronto Star at 1:00 PM. At 8:00 PM, Brautigan gave a reading in the offices of the Harvard Advocate, the nation's oldest continually published literary magazine.
Wednesday, 3 December 1980
Brautigan took a morning flight to Detroit, Michigan, and then traveled on to the University of Toledo in Ohio. At 8:00 PM he gave his standard reading at an event sponsored by the Toledo Poets Center Arts Council.
Thursday 4 December 1980
Brautigan flew from Detroit to San Francisco, California, book promotion tour finished. He immediately moved into Eunice Kitagawa's Vallejo Street apartment, convient to both Enrico's and his office above Vesuvio Café.
Thursday, 25 December 1980
Brautigan spent Christmas in Mendocino, California, with Eunice Kitagawa.
Highlights: finishes manuscript for So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away . . . article about his inability to drive published in People Weekly magazine . . . readings and presentations.
Brautigan reconnected with his literary agent, Helen Brann, regarding his manuscript for So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away. Brautigan began the first draft in June 1979, based on an earlier work he called The Pond People of America, about his childhood in the Pacific Northwest. For example, the beginning of Chapter 4 reads, "In April it was spring and I began my discovery of the ponds, which led me step by step down the road to the pond people and into their camp and into their pond houses and into their pond furniture and everything pond."
Brautigan changed the title to So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, inspired by the song "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas. Brautigan liked the idea that everyone was, in the end, only dust in the wind (William Hjortsberg 631). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Not wanting the novel to become part of the settlement, Brautigan had set the manuscript aside prior to his divorce from Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), his second wife.
Brann contacted Seymour Lawrence who negotiated with Dell Publishing and a contract was offered Brautigan by 23 January. He was to receive $45,000.00 in advance, half at the signing of the contract, the other half upon delivery of the finished contract. Additionally, he would receive 15 percent of every hardback sale. The contract was signed on 18 February (William Hjortsberg 692). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Friday, 13 February 1981
Brautigan traveled to Boulder, Colorado, where, as with his previous trip, he stayed at the Hotel Boulderado.
Tuesday, 24 February 1981
Brautigan traveled from Boulder, Colorado, to Bozeman, Montana, where he visited with Greg Keeler, faculty member of the English Department at Montana State University. Brautigan taught one of Keeler's classes and made a good impression on the acting head of the department. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Keeler.
Saturday, 21 March 1981
Following on interest generated by his promotional tour for The Tokyo-Montana Express, Brautigan was contacted by People Weekly magazine. The magazine wanted an article about Brautigan and assigned Cheryl McCall, who had written an earlier piece about the literary and art scene in Paradise, Montana, "Bloomsbury Comes to Big Sky," published 3 November 1980. McCall was interested in the fact that Brautigan did not drive, and decided to make that the focus of her article, which would be styled as an interview with Brautigan. San Francisco photographer Roger Ressmeyer was hired to provide photographs of Brautigan for the article. Ressmeyer took many photographs of Brautigan including head-and-shoulders portraits, Brautigan riding around San Francisco in a rickshaw pulled by friend Dwain Richard Cox, Brautigan socializing with friends at Enrico's Cafe, a popular North Beach gathering spot at Broadway and Kearney, near City Lights Books, Brautigan in his North Beach office, located above Vesuvio Café, 255 Columbus Avenue, next door to City Lights Books, and Brautigan posing on train tracks and in front of junked automobiles at a San Francisco dock.
After months of sleeping at Eunice Kitagawa's apartment, or in his office above Vesuvio Café, Brautigan moved into the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district.
Sunday, 10 May 1981
Brautigan traveled to Pine Creek, Montana, where he worked on his evolving novel, So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away.
Monday, 8 June 1981
Brautigan was featured in a People Weekly magazine interview by Cheryl McCall (People Weekly 8 June 1981). This interview was illustrated by three photographs of Brautigan by Roger Ressmeyer, taken Saturday, 21 March 1981, in San Francisco, California. Brautigan is credited as the author of this article, but it actually stems from recorded interviews with McCall. The interview was reprinted in Lawrence Wright's memoir, "The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan," published in the 11 April 1985 issue of Rolling Stone. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright.
Eunice Kitagawa visited Brautigan at his house in Pine Creek, Montana. She told Brautigan that she was moving to Hawaii.
Sunday, 30 August 1981
Although invited, Brautigan did not participate in Poets and Other Strangers—Readings by Poets at Chico Hot Springs Hotel, Chico Hot Springs, Montana. He had agreed to participate but was angered when the event organizers printed his name on promotional posters and distributed them without his permission. As a result, Brautigan did not join the other poets for this reading (William Hjortsberg 700). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Saturday, 5 September 1981
Daughter, Ianthe, married Paul Swensen, a film director, in Santa Rosa, California. Brautigan did not approve of the marriage, and did not attend the ceremony. Brautigan wrote a single paragraph short story titled "My Name Forgotten in the Grass" about his feelings. "She is my only daughter, and the end of my family name. [. . .] My name became the shadow of an old deer bone among the green grass that doesn't know its name." The story was never published. See Stories > Unpublished > 1981 > story title.
Monday, 7 September 1981
Brautigan mailed the completed manuscript for So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away to Helen Brann, his literary agent.
Sunday, 27 September 1981
Brautigan left Montana and returned to San Francisco, California, where he stayed for two weeks at the Kyoto Inn located in the Japanese district (An Unfortunate Woman 2).
Saturday, 10 October 1981
Brautigan flew to Buffalo, New York, and checked into the Lenox Hotel. He visited with Robert Creeley who taught in the English Department at the State University of New York Buffalo.
Sunday, 11 October 1981
Brautigan gave a 2:00 PM poetry reading at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The reading was sponsored by the Black Mountain II poetry series, a name used by the English Department at SUNY Buffalo.
Monday, 12 October 1981
Brautigan talked with Robert Creeley's university class.
Tuesday, 13 October 1981
Brautigan traveled by car with Robert Creeley, his wife Penelope, and their young son, Will, to Toronto, Canada.
Tuesday, 20 October 1981
Brautigan left Toronto, Canada, bound for San Francisco, California, where he checked into the Kyoto Inn in the downtown Japanese district (An Unfortunate Woman 2, 38-42).
Brautigan moved to a house in Berkeley, California, located at 17 Eucalyptus Road (An Unfortunate Woman 2). A lawyer owned the house. His wife committed suicide there the previous year and he refused to live in the house. Tony Dingman arranged to live in the house rent free. He invited Brautigan to join him. Richard Hodge, Brautigan's lawyer joined them as well.
Saturday, 5 December 1981
Brautigan traveled to Ketchikan, Alaska, at the invitation of the Ketchikan Humanities Society to give two readings, both billed as "An Evening's Discussion with Richard Brautigan," both held at the Ketchikan High School. The first presentation was held at 7:30 PM, this night.
Sunday, 6 December 1981
Brautigan delivered his second reading for the Ketchikan Humanities Society at 7:30 PM. After the reading, Brautigan spend the night drinking with Terry Gardiner, the "wild legislator."
Monday, 7 December 1981
Brautigan gave an interview to Bill Green of the Ketchikan Daily News. Later in the day, Brautigan left for Anchorage, Alaska, where he spent the night.
Tuesday, 8 December 1981
Brautigan traveled from Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu, Hawaii (An Unfortunate Woman 2, 12, 46-47, 47-50). While in Hawaii, Brautigan visited with Eunice Kitagawa, who had moved there from San Francisco in late August. Brautigan remained in Hawaii until mid-January 1982.
Highlights: So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away published . . . Wrote An Unfortunate Woman.
In Hawaii, Eunice Kitagawa gave Brautigan a T-shirt with an image of a chicken atop a military tank and the words "Fighting Chickens" printed below. Brautigan wanted his picture taken with a fighting chicken and Kitagawa arranged for George Bennet to be the photographer. Brautigan recounts the experience with the chicken in his novel An Unfortunate Woman (8-11).
Brautigan returned to Berkeley, California, and his temporary residence at 17 Eucalyptus Road mid-January. The house was supposedly haunted by the ghost of the woman who hanged herself in the living room. Brautigan was intrigued and wanted to write about his thoughts.
Saturday, 30 January 1982
On his birthday, Brautigan traveled across the bay to San Francisco. He was forty-seven years old. The bus on which Brautigan traveled passed a building fire in San Francisco. Brautigan got off the bus and watched the fire (An Unfortunate Woman 4, 15-20). Brautigan paid for a room in the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district and spent the next week writing his thoughts and observations from Hawaii and the haunted house in Berkeley.
Saturday, 6 February 1982
Brautigan returned to the house at 17 Eucalyptus Road in Berkeley, where he worked on the manuscript for An Unfortunate Woman. He planned a trip to Chicago, Illinois, his return to San Francisco, a trip to Denver and Boulder, Colorado, and then to Montana for the spring (An Unfortunate Woman 11, 51).
Thursday, 18 February 1982
Brautigan flew to Chicago, Illinois, where he was met by Dennis Lynch and driven to DeKalb, Illinois, about 50 miles to the west. Lynch and Brautigan met in 1979, when Brautigan participated in a panel discussion entitled "Zen and Contemporary Poetry" at the 94th annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), 29 December, in San Francisco, California. Lynch organized and chaired the panel. Lynch was an instructor in the English Department at Northern Illinois University and had arranged for Brautigan to visit, teach his class, and give a public reading. Brautigan stayed with Lynch, at his one-bedroom apartment on campus for ten days. Brautigan describes the trip in his novel An Unfortunate Woman (59-64).
Friday, 19 February 1982
Brautigan taught Lynch's class in the afternoon, then attended an autograph party. In the evening, Brautigan gave a formal reading in English Department at Northern Illinois University. Afterward, Brautigan attended a reception at the house of James M. Mellard, then chair of the NIU English Department and author of The Exploded Form: The Modernist Novel in America which includes a chapter on Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America. See Trout Fishing in America > Reviews > Mellard.
Feedback from Dennis Lynch
"I put that MLA panel together, and that's what led to Brautigan and I being friends. That was quite a night. Governor Jerry Brown and his then-squeeze Linda Ronstadt showed up.
"Then a couple of years later, Richard came out to NIU [Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois] where I was a graduate student and delivered a reading and lecture, and came to my classes. There we had the surreal experience of going out to dinner and finding on the printed menu Trout á la Brautigan, believe it or not.
"After the MLA deal we kept in touch regularly. He'd drink and dial me maybe once a month after that until his death. I wrote a tribute to him for the Chicago Tribune, and wrote various other things about him, all of which you seem to have uncovered.
"I spent a week at his ranch in Montana where he showed me how to shoot his guns.
"Unless I'm working on a story, my MO around celeberities is never to
ask them questions about their work (I figure they get that enough
elsewhere) but just to talk about "normal" things. So instead of prying,
I'd wait for Richard to talk about his art (which was rarely), his
publishing and financial problems (frequently), or his personal life
(often). So, unfortunately, I didn't hear from him a lot of insights
into his craft."
— Dennis Lynch. Email to John F. Barber, 26 February 2005.
Feedback from James Mellard
"I am not sure whether it was Dennis Lynch or Jerome Klinkowitz who invited Brautigan.
"My wife Sue and I hosted the reception after Brautigan's reading, and a bunch of people, indeed, a coterie of Brautigan followers actually hung out and stayed at our house after the Sue and I went to bed. They drank up all the beer and wine, then proceeded on to our modest supply of liquor (scotch, bourbon, that sort of thing, not a huge amount), leaving not a drop undrunk.
"Brautigan wasn't falling down drunk, but he was regaling the crowd in a flourishing manner. I remember one scene of Brautigan standing in the living room talking about his critics. Brautigan said that he would like to line up all his critics and shoot them. As he said this, he made the gesture of raising a gun and shooting each one, complete with sound effects. I also remember Brautigan sitting on the floor in the living room telling stories.
"When Sue and I needed to sleep, I said to the group 'Y'all stay here; we're going to bed.
— James Mellard. Email to John F. Barber, 24 January 2007.
Saturday, 27 February 1982
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, California, from Chicago, Illinois, and took up residence at the Kyoto Inn in the downtown Japanese district.
Monday and Tuesday, 1-2 March 1982
Brautigan added comments about his trip to DeKalb, Illinois, to his evolving manuscript. He left out names, was creative with the time frame, and followed an arbitrary rule of not reading what he had already written, but rather continuing his efforts to account for his travels, thoughts, and observations over the past months.
Thursday, 4 March 1982
Brautigan posed for photographs taken by Roger Ressmeyer that were to be used for the promotional and marketing efforts associated with Brautigan's most recent novel, So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away. Ressmeyer took several head-and-shoulders portraits of Brautigan. One was used on the back flyleaf of Brautigan's novel. Additionally, Ressmeyer took the photograph used on the front and back covers of the novel at the Novato reservoir in northern Marin County.
Sunday, 14 March 1982
Brautigan broke his right leg at the ankle in two places when he tripped over a piece of furniture in his room at the Kyoto Inn (An Unfortunate Woman 59, 65, 74). The breaks were clean, so no cast was required. Brautigan was given a cane to assist him in walking.
On weekends while teaching at Montana State University in Bozeman, and full time after the spring term was finished in mid-June, Brautigan stayed at his Pine Creek ranch. Here he started a new writing project, entitled "American Hotels" even while he continued work on the project begun on his birthday and now titled "Investigating Moods."
Late in the month, Brautigan sent a proposal for a book to Dell Publishing Company and his literary agent, Helen Brann. The proposed book would consist of four sections. The first, the unfinished project started on his birthday in January, would examine varieties of human existence revolving around tragedy. It would be called, at the advice of Becky Fonda, "An Unfortunate Woman." The second, "Japanese UFO," would contain stories about contemporary Japan. The third would be "American Hotels." The fourth would be a collection of stories set in Montana, none of which were yet written. Working title for this final section would be "Waiting for Deer."
Monday, 28 June 1982
Brautigan finished the manuscript for what would become An Unfortunate Woman. The manuscript was written in a 160-page lined notebook. In addition to not rereading what he had written, except to see where he had left off during lapses in writing, Brautigan, for this project, decided that when he reached the final page of the notebook, the novel would be finished. This was a big departure from Brautigan's normal writing style of laboring over each word, aiming for precision. Interesting, Brautigan noted the final day of writing as June 18, 1982, ten days prior to the actual date of completion (An Unfortunate Woman 110). Brautigan had his handwritten manuscript typed and mailed to his literary agent, Helen Brann (William Hjortsberg 720). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 4 July 1982
Finished with his newest novel, Brautigan turned his attention to summer celebration. Visitors obliged over the Fourth of July weekend. Dennis Lynch and a friend, Brad Donovan and his wife, Georgia, and Rip Torn and his three children, Ed and Jennifer Dorn and their two children, Dick Dillof, Bud Swearingen, and others gathered at Brautigan's Pine Creek ranch. Brautigan decided to throw a dinner party for Rip Torn and asked Brad Donovan for help with the grocery shopping and cooking. Donovan and Georgia used their food stamps to buy Brautigan's grocery list. Donovan helped in the kitchen and partook of the party swirling around him. His memoir, "Food Stamps for the Stars" (Firestarter June 1996: 4-5) is an interesting account of one of Brautigan's legendary parties. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Donovan.
Thursday, 8 July 1982
Brautigan's friend, Nikki Arai, died of cancer in San Francisco, California. Brautigan learned of her death two days later. Five days after her death, Brautigan wrote a letter to Arai, calling her "N." He described walking to his neighbor Marian Hjortsberg, "M," house with a watermelon. When he discovered that he had interrupted her lovemaking with her boyfriend, Todd, he left the watermelon on the porch and walked back to his own house. He wanted to phone Nikki, he wrote, "because you have the perfect sense of humor to understand. Its' just the kind of story you would have enjoyed." Brautigan later used this letter as the introduction to An Unfortunate Woman.
Friday, 16(?) July 1982
Not wanting to remain alone at his Pine Creek ranch, Brautigan moved into Georgia Donovan's sister's vacant trailer at the Forest Park trailer park, along the banks of the Gallatin River, west of Bozeman, Montana. Here he had the chance to visit at leisure with Brad Donovan. They decided to write a screenplay about live in a trailer park. The result was Trailer, a rough, 100-page first draft. See Screenplays > Trailer.
While in Montana, Brautigan was visited by David Curran, a fan from Missoula, Montana. Using clues from Brautigan's books, Curran located the Pine Creek ranch and introduced himself. Curran recorded his visit with Brautigan in a book titled Brautigan, Richard: A Pilgrimage, August 1982. Curran writes, "I take two photos of Richard sitting on his barn steps. I'm annoyed by the face-in-the-hands pose he insists on" (Curran 33). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Tributes > Curran.
Seymour Lawrence, on behalf of Dell Publishing Company, offered Brautigan a $15,000 advance for his new book proposal. This was less than half of what Brautigan had received for his past novels, and he rejected the offer. Lawrence was also forming his own publishing company with E.P. Dutton & Company, and he offered Brautigan the same advance. Brautigan refused this offer as well.
Brautigan participated in the annual Poets and Other Strangers—Readings by Poets at Chico Hot Springs Hotel, Chico Hot Springs, Montana.
Friday, 10 September 1982
So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away published. 17,500 copies were printed. The novel sold less than 15,000 copies, and, like all of Brautigan's later work, received mixed reviews from critics. This was Brautigan's last publication in his lifetime.
Friday, 24 September 1982
Brautigan traveled to San Francisco to visit with his attorney, Joel A. Shawn. Brautigan needed money to repair and update his Bolinas, California, home, and wanted to talk about options.
Brautigan returned to Bozeman, Montana, and took a room at the Baxter Hotel, on Main Street. He started work again on "American Hotels" writing about his travel and hotel experiences beginning in the 1950s. He filled nearly fifty pages in his notebook, sympathizing with the disappearance of the hotel as a living space. At the end of the month Brautigan stopped writing. "American Hotels" remains unpublished.
Brautigan spent much of the fall in Bozeman, at the Imperial 400 Motel, on Main Street, room 214, or at the home of Karen Datko, a reporter for the Bozeman Chronicle.
Highlights: Visits Paris to promote French publication of his work . . . Visits Japan (his sixth trip) . . . Closes up Montana house, never to return . . . Travels in Europe.
After spending the holidays at this Pine Creek, Montana, ranch, Brautigan flew to San Francisco, California, where he booked a room at the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district.
Wednesday, 19 January 1983
Brautigan applied for and received a ninety-day visa to visit Japan before being driven to Palo Alto, California, where he delivered an 8:00 PM reading at Stanford University.
Friday, 21 January 1983
Brautigan left San Francisco, bound for Tokyo, Japan, his fifth visit. Following old habits, he checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel. Brautigan planned to stay in Tokyo less than four week. The purpose of his visit was his desire to see Masako Kano again (William Hjortsberg 736). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Monday, 24 January 1983
Brautigan received an invitation to visit Paris, France, for a week beginning April 11 for the publication of the French addition of So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away.
Friday, 18 February 1983
Brautigan returned to San Francisco, California, from Tokyo, Japan.
Wednesday, 23 February 1983
Brautigan flew from San Francisco to South Bend, Indiana, to deliver a 7:00 PM reading at Notre Dame University.
Thursday, 24 February 1983
Brautigan flew from South Bend, Indiana, to Bozeman, Montana, and returned to his Pine Creek ranch where he remained until April.
Friday, 11 March 1983
Brautigan sent a letter to Helen Brann, his literary agent, ending their thirteen-year business relationship.
Dear Helen Brann,
After our last conversation about my new novel An Unfortunate Woman, I realized that our views on this work are so vastly different that it would be very difficult to continue our working relationship because this novel is one of the main directions of my future writing.
So I am terminating my relationship with the Helen Brann Agency effective as of March 11, 1983.
Brautigan and Brann spoke by telephone earlier in the month. Brann told Brautigan she could not find a publisher for An Unfortunate Woman because it was more autobiographical than fictional, and seemingly focused on Brautigan's bad marriage experience with Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa). Brautigan may have felt Brann was disloyal and, as he had done with others, cut off all further relations (William Hjortsberg 738). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Richard Brautigan by Marc Chénetier (Methuen 1983) published. Chénetier praised Brautigan and his writing, saying that critics did not undertand his work as it fell outside the boundaries of traditional American literature. Brautigan was pleased. See References > Studies > Chénetier.
Thursday, 7 April 1983
Brautigan left Pine Creek, Montana, and traveled to San Francisco, California.
Friday, 8 April 1983
Brautigan flew from San Francisco to New York, New York, the first leg of his trip to Paris, France. The trip was paid for by Christian Bourgois, the French publishing company that released Brautigan's So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away translated into French by Marc Chénetier. Brautigan was to help promote the release of the book while in Paris through a series of interviews and an appearance at the Paris Book Fair.
Brautigan spent the night in New York and visited with his daughter, Ianthe.
Saturday, 9 April 1983
Brautigan had breakfast with Helen Brann, his former literary agent. He told her that if he published anything in the future, it would be in Europe where, based on recent critical and publishing success, he saw an opportunity to regain his stature as a writer. He left for Paris in the evening.
Sunday, 10 April 1983
Brautigan arrived in Paris, France, where he was met by Christian Bourgois and his wife, Dominique, Marc Chénetier, and a reporter from L'Express. After lunch, they took Brautigan to Hôtel d'Isly, 49 Rue Jacob, in the Saint-Germian-des-Pré on the Left Bank, within walking distance of le Jardin du Luxembourg, the second largest park in Paris.
Monday, 11 April 1983
Brautigan was interviewed by Jean Baptiste Baronian, on assignment for Le Magazine Littéraire. At 5:00 PM he was interviewed by Gabrielle Rollin. In the evening, he visited with Marc Chénetier. See References > Critiques > Baronian.
Wednesday, 13 April 1983
Brautigan met with novelist and literary critic Michel Brauden, F. Dumont, a reporter for Elle magazine, and Jean-François Fogel, a journalist with Le Point, who took Brautigan on a tour of Père-Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris.
Friday, 15 April 1983
Brautigan participated in an interview with a French television crew in his hotel room. At 7:00 PM, he gave a reading at Maison des Sciences de l'Homme on the Boulevard Raspail.
Saturday, 16 April 1983
Brautigan appeared at the Christian Bourgoise Publishing booth in the Grand Palais de Champs-Elysées to help promote publication of his novel So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away in French translation. Brautigan, drunk since his arrival in Paris on Sunday, did not make a good impression, as shown in photographs taken by Louis Monier that appeared in Le Point and Magazine Littéraire (William Hjortsberg 747). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 17 April 1983
Brautigan left Paris, France, bound for Tokyo, Japan, with stops in Frankfurt, Germany, Cairo, Egypt, and Aden, Yemen. This was Brautigan's sixth trip to Japan. As before, he checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel. His room on the thirty-seventh floor became his base of operations for next four months. Once settled, he resumed contact with Masako Kano, whom he convinced to help with an assignment from the West German version of Playboy magazine to write an article about West German fashion models working in Tokyo Japan. Kano would be his research assistant, able to learn information about the models and their work that would be unavailable to Brautigan.
Feedback from Jim DeBerry
"I first met Richard [Brautigan] in Tokyo. I had just taken a job for an American computer company that had a branch office in Japan and was staying at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku which was right across the street from the building where my company was located. After work there was a place called the Little Bar near the lobby of the hotel and just outside the main bar. I had made a lot of Japanese friends there who came after work for a few drinks. The Little Bar was open from 5 to 9 I believe.
"One day a rather tall stranger stopped by and ordered a beer. He was dressed just about like you see him in the pictures blue jeans and western shirt but no big hat. He stood next to me and we started talking. I introduced myself and he introduced himself and asked what I was doing in Tokyo. The name Richard Brautigan meant absolutely nothing to me as I had never heard of him. I asked him what he was doing there and he said "I am just a fifty year old hippy who has never outgrown it. He said he was a writer and named a couple of books that I had never heard of probably Trout Fishing [in America] and [In] Watermelon [Sugar].
"We often stopped by that Little Bar and just talked about nothing in particular. If anyone is ever in Tokyo and goes to the Keio Plaza he always stood in the same place about four feet over from the left side facing the bar. Maybe he left some 'Karma' there or something. We often did the Sunday New York Times crosswords there on Friday nights as that is when they were published in Tokyo. As a rule he finished first but not always. After the Little Bar closed I usually went to my room and he went over to Shibuya where a lady friend of his ran a bar.
"I felt that he was a fine person who cared for people. He once told me that I was the only American in Japan that he had anything to do with. He went into a small spiel about the Americans that were there that had nothing to do with the Japanese. He called them the Ropongi Crowd, I think. And he had little use for them. He felt that when one was in a foreign country that one should partake of that culture.
"For those of you who don't know Tokyo, Ropongi is the location of the American Embassy and most of the Americans hung out in mostly American clubs having almost nothing to do with the locals. These were the Americans that he had little use for. I suppose because I had a lot of Japanese friends, he saw me differently.
"He told me he usually came to Japan in the spring and went back to the states in the fall. I told him that it seemed backwards to me because Japan had such a mild winter and Montana was so cold. He said, 'Well, I come to Japan to get ideas for my writing and since I am lazy I go back to Montana to write because I am snowed in up there and am forced to write because there is nothing else to do.'
"This is getting longer than I expected. To make a long story short I came back to America in the spring of 1984 and ran across some of his books at a book store and bought them and enjoyed them very much. I think maybe if I had known of his books earlier then perhaps I might have been awed or something and our relationship would have been different. As it was we were just two Americans in Tokyo having a good time together.
"And before anyone asks I might add that I saw no signs of despondency
or anything that would suggest his suicide in 1984. I guess the last
time I saw him was in the late summer of 1983."
— Jim DeBerry. Email to John F. Barber, 2004.
Wednesday, 4 May 1983
Terayama Shuji , Japanese avant-garde writer, poet, filmmaker and dramatist, died in Tokyo. Brautigan first meet Shuji in San Francisco in 1979 and they became friends. Shuji's funeral was held close to the Keio Plaza Hotel. Brautigan walked to the funeral hall and joined the line of people waiting to show their respect to Shuji. While waiting, Brautigan observed an ant crawling under the black shoe of a man ahead of him in the line. Thus began the poem "Night Flowing River." See Poetry > Uncollected > 1984 > poem title.
Brautigan typed the poem on Keio Plaza Hotel stationary. He gave a copy to his literary representatives in Japan, and another copy to Shuntarõ Tanikawa to translate into Japanese. The Japanese translation was later published in Asahi Shinbun (Evening Edition 6 June 1983: 5).
end of May 1983
Brautigan was invited by the United States Information Agency at the U. S. Embassy to conduct presentations at cities across Japan. For each presentation, Brautigan would be paid a $75.00 honorarium plus a $113.00 per diem. Brautigan accepted the invitation, and planned a presentation in Kyoto on 20 June and one in Osaka on 21 June.
Brautigan continued working on "The Fate of a West German Model in Tokyo," now the working title of his assignment for the West German version of Playboy magazine. His notes filled two notebooks, a 179-page manuscript. Brautigan met and talked with only one West German model, and it was notes from this conversation that formed the final, six-page essay. Never published in English, this story was framed, like The World War I Los Angeles Airplane, as a numbered list of quotes in the voice of the West German model.
Wednesday, 8 June 1983
Brautigan had lunch with Donald Ritchie, American author who wrote about Japanese people and cinema, who recorded these impressions in his journal.
"Denim and corduroy, granny glasses, wispy red hair, uneven red moustache. Bright blue eyes, the moustache concealing an affable mouth. The aging hippy persona is there but is mostly due to the clothes: the studied appearance of the unlearned, does not know foreign languages, careful mispronunciations. Part of it is a pose, I think: the American anti-intellectual, Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad. But not all.
"He talks about himself . . .. He is not precisely attempting to justify himself, but is giving me a lot of information. Among the things spoken of is how different the public personal, created by 'the media,' is from the real self.
"[W]e speak of the ways in which the persona may be used. It is of use in getting people to go to bed with you. In fact, fame-fucking is a known result.
"He has had much experience. Further, he prefers his partners young. His persona is very reassuring. He is filled with earth-wisdom and, as one fo the original hippies, is by definition kind and understanding, things that female children, males as well, find attractive. He is at present with a young girl [Masako Kano], 'young enough to be my daughter.'
". . . I find his air of the faux-naïf very refreshing but I still do
not know how faux it is. Perhaps it isn't. What he finds in me I don't
know—we speak little about me."
(Donald Ritchie. The Japan Journals. Stone Bridge Press, 2004, pp. 193, 195-196).
Monday, 20 June 1983
Brautigan gave a reading at Doshita University in Kyoto, Japan, as part of a speaking tour arranged by the United States Information Agency in the U. S. Embassy. The event was called "A Conversation with Richard Brautigan" and consisted of him reading his past work and then answering questions from the audience (William Hjortsberg 758). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Tuesday, 22 June 1983
Brautigan gave a reading in Osaka, Japan, as part of a speaking tour arranged by the United States Information Agency in the U. S. Embassy. The event was called "A Conversation with Richard Brautigan" and consisted of him reading his past work and then answering questions from the audience. At mid-month, Brautigan gave a reading ("Literature as a Living Process") at the Tokyo American Center (William Hjortsberg 758, 759). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan and Masako Kano explored part of Tokyo and beyond. Brautigan recorded their adventures in his notebook. He also wrote poems, two poems for Kano: "When the Star Stops Counting the Sky" and "Waiting Potatoes." Both remain unpublished. See Poetry > Unpublished > poem titles.
Brautigan wrote a poem entitled "Spare Me" about his disappointment with love after ending his relationship with Kano. It remains unpublished. See Poetry > Unpublished > poem titles.
Brautigan returned from Tokyo, Japan, to San Francisco, California.
Brautigan traveled from San Francisco to Pine Creek, Montana, early in the month. At month's end, Brautigan moved to the Murray Hotel, in Livingston, Montana, where he rented room 211 for $10.00 a month (William Hjortsberg 766). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan and Brad Donovan completed a working draft of their screenplay, Trailer.
Sean Cassaday, and Toby Thompson helped Brautigan pack up the contents of his Pine Creek, Montana, ranch house. Brautigan was intent to leave the place forever. In the packing he gave a copy of the poem "Night Flowing River" (See Poetry > Uncollected > 1984 > poem title) and a story, "The Lost Tree" (See Stories > Uncollected > 1984 > story title), to Thompson who said he might be able to place them with the Washington Review of the Arts in Washington, D.C. (William Hjortsberg 775). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
The poem, "Night Flowing River," concerns Brautigan's attendance of funeral ceremonies for Terayama Shuji, in May 1983, in Tokyo, Japan. The story, "The Lost Tree" is about a tree in Boulder, Colorado, under which he had frequent sex with Masako Kano in July 1980.
Both the poem and the story, as well as a photograph of Brautigan by Thompson, were published under the title "Richard Brautigan: Tokyo and Montana" in the February/March 1984 issue of Friends of the Washington Review of the Arts.
Brautigan left Montana, bound for New York City. He never returned to Montana.
During a brief stay in New York, Brautigan visited with his daughter, Ianthe, and long-time friend, Tony Dingman.
Monday-Sunday, 17-23 October 1983
Brautigan attended and gave a reading at the One World Poetry Festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. While there, he stayed at the Hotel Jan Luyken. Readings for the conference were held at the Melkweg (Milky Way) club, not far from the hotel. According to Bert Van De Kamp, writing in the November 1983 issue of muziekkrant OOR, a Dutch music magazine, "Richard Brautigan read a poem concerning the burial of his friend, a Japanese artist, and afterwards couldn't say another word. 'That was the end of the sixties,' concluded Bram Vermeulen [a Dutch musician who performed that same evening] slightly disrespectfully. Perhaps Brautigan wanted to keep the memory of his friend pure [and so did not wish to say anything further]. The performance was, however brief, nevertheless very memorable ("One World Poetry." muziekkrant OOR. no. 23, 19 Nov. 1983, p. 19).
Jan Kerouac, daughter of beat novelist Jack Kerouac, also attended the One World Poetry Festival, and met Brautigan there. He was, she said, "hangdog and terminally sad" as he told a story about an ant and then stopped without warning.
[The crowd was] "outraged and wanted to see and hear more. Brautigan meekly apologized. He shrugged his narrow shoulders and said he didn't have any more. Then, as an afterthought it seemed, he explained that the Japanese man whose funeral the ant was walking through would have been insulted if he had read any more, that the Japanese like things simple—short and sweet, like haiku. Then he left" (Trainsong. Henry Holt and Company, 1988, pp. 154-157). READ this essay.
The story/poem Brautigan shared was "Night Flowing River," written about attending the funeral of Japanese poet Terayama Shuji who died 4 May 1983. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1984 > poem title.
Wednesday, 26 October 1983
Brautigan began a spontaneous tour of Europe. His first stop was Spain, where he traveled with a woman he met at the One World Poetry Conference. She lived in Palma, Majorca, and Brautigan stayed with her through the end of the month and into November.
Saturday, 19 November 1983
Brautigan left Palma, Majorca, Spain, and returned to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Brautigan in Zurich, Switzerland, for several days at the end of the month. While there he delivered a lecture at the University of Zurich, and gave a television interview with readings from The Tokyo-Montana Express (available online as Richard Brautigan Interview/Reading 1983 at the YouTube website.
At the end of the month, Brautigan flew back to Palma, Majorca, Spain, where he remained for a few days.
Monday, 5 December 1983
Brautigan left Palma, Majorca, Spain, and traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, where he began a lecture tour arranged by the United States Information Service. He was met at the airport by Günter Ohnemus, who had translated Brautigan's works into German, and Edwin Pancoast, director of the America House. They drove Brautigan to the American Institute at the University of Munich for his first lecture that evening.
Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Brautigan traveled by train to Heidelberg, Germany, where he gave a 2:30 PM lecture at the English Department of the University of Mannheim.
Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Brautigan traveled by train to back to Frankfurt, Germany, where he made a connection to Siegen. He was met there and driven to the University of Siegen where he gave a noon lecture at the Department of English. After his lecture, Brautigan was driven to Bonn, Germany, where he attended an informal reception at the American Center.
Thursday, 8 December 1983
Brautigan gave an 11:00 AM lecture at the English Department at Bonn University. After the lecture, Brautigan flew to Berlin, Germany, where, that evening at 8:00 PM, he gave a lecture at The Amerika Haus. This was the end of Brautigan's German tour as arranged by the United States Information Service. Brautigan remained in Berlin for three days. He later told friends that he visited a former German concentration camp during his tour and suggested that his work in progress, The Complete Absence of Twilight was based on that visit.
Friday, 9 December 1983
Brautigan visited East Berlin, Germany, then under Communist control.
Saturday, 10 December 1983
Brautigan attended a 5:00 PM book signing at The Author's Bookstore, in West Berlin. He met with the editors of Transatlantik and sold them the first German serial rights to his six-page story, "The Fate of a West German Model in Tokyo" (William Hjortsberg 784). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 11 December 1983
Brautigan flew from Berlin, Germany, back to Palma, Majorca, Spain, where he spent the rest of the month.
Highlights: Continues travels in Europe . . . Takes own life in Bolinas, California.
Sunday, 1 January 1984
Brautigan flew from Palma, Majorca, to Barcelona, Spain, where he caught a train to Paris, France, and then another train to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he stayed for more than five weeks at the Owl Hotel. While in Amsterdam, Brautigan began writing a long narrative prose piece titled "Owl Days" about his trip from Barcelona to Amsterdam and experiences there. For example, the story "Mussels" focus on shop near the hotel that served mussel sandwiches. Brautigan thought it a good reason to return to Amsterdam. In another notebook, Brautigan listed every item in the hotel. Both works remain unpublished (William Hjortsberg 787). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan also began a story titled The Complete Absence of Twilight, but wrote only eleven pages. The work was never finished and remains unpublished.
Monday, 9 January 1984
Brautigan applied for a visa to visit Japan. At the end of his application, Brautigan wrote, "At the age of seventeen, I came in contact with Japanese culture and it has had a profound influence on my life. Japan has been my teacher. I wish to continue my education."
Brautigan was granted a six-month visa "for cultural activities" (William Hjortsberg 787-788). See References > Biographes > Hjortsberg.
Monday, 30 January 1984
On his forty-ninth birthday, Brautigan visited with the editor of the Dutch version of Playboy magazine. He offered them four pieces of new fiction: "Umbrellas in the Snow," "Mussels," "Sandwalker," and "The Habitue." These works remain unpublished. See Stories > Unpublished > 1984 > story titles.
After the meeting, Brautigan mailed the editor a copy of "The Fate of a West German Model in Tokyo." Brautigan also gave the six-page story to Avenue magazine, one of the biggest publications in The Netherlands. The magazine agreed to publish the story later in the year (William Hjortsberg 790). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan's poem "Night Flowing River" (See Poetry > Uncollected > 1984 > poem title) and his story "The Lost Tree" (See Stories > Uncollected > 1984 > story title) were published in February/March issue of Friends of the Washington Review of the Arts. This was a republication of "Night Flowing River" and a first publication for "The Lost Tree." Both were the last works of Brautigan published in English during his lifetime.
Wednesday, 8 February 1984
Brautigan left Amsterdam and traveled to Tokyo, Japan, his seventh visit to the country. As before, he checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel. Unable to pay his hotel bill, Brautigan asked Takako Shiina, owner of The Cradle bar for help. She agreed to cover his expenses.
Friday, 10 February 1984
Brautigan set about writing, hoping to generate something he could sell for income. The poem "Reflections" wondered what people would say after his death. Brautigan wrote "Death Growth," a grim mediation on death two days later. Other poems included "Death My Answering Service" and "Hopeless Candles." All remain unpublished. See Poetry > Uncollected > poem titles.
Brautigan began "The Same Story Twice," intended as a sequel to Dreaming of Babylon told by C. Card's son, but after five pages abandoned the effort. This work remains unpublished.
Brautigan also tried to continue work on a screenplay begun at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, Wear Out and Die, but abandoned the effort after four pages. He began a new screenplay, titled Clichè, envisioning a movie about 1950s mediocrity. The Killer was to be about Barbara Frederick, a woman pushing a shopping cart wondering if she could kill the Chinese woman in the next aisle (William Hjortsberg 791-792). None of these efforts were ever finished and all remain unpublished. See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan also contacted the United States Information Service at the U. S. Embassy, hoping to set up a paid speaking tour. Nagoya and Fukuoka expressed interest in having Brautigan speak at their American Cultural Centers, but plans were never finalized.
Brautigan visited with Masako Kano, but their relationship was over.
Tuesday, 14 February 1984
In a letter from Tokyo dated Tuesday, 14 February 1984 to Greg Keeler, Brautigan included a copy of his Japanese visa photograph (taken in January 1984). The text at the bottom of the photograph reads, "As you can see, Europe has been good to me." Brautigan's letter carried a similar message: "You have probably looked at the photograph of me taken just before my birthday. Yes, Europe has been good to me." This letter was one of several Brautigan exchanged with Keeler. See Non-Fiction > Letters > Keeler. Keeler included this letter in his Brautigan memoir, Waltzing with the Captain. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Keeler.
Sunday, 11 March 1984
Brautigan departed Tokyo, Japan, bound for San Francisco, California, where he checked into the Kyoto Inn, in the downtown Japanese district. Soon after he returned, Brautigan borrowed a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum from Jim Sakata, owner of Cho-Cho Tempura Bar, 1020 Kearny Street, a popular San Francisco Japanese restaurant. Brautigan claimed to be uneasy about moving into his empty house in Bolinas. In return, Brautigan gave Sakata a brick which he placed on the bar, in the corner where Brautigan always sat. The brick became a private memorial after Brautigan's death (William Hjortsberg 796). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan, in a letter to his new literary agent, Jonathan Dolger, once assistant to Helen Brann, expressed concern over the eleven pages of The Complete Absence of Twilight, he had mailed to Dolger earlier. The arrangement was wrong, claimed Brautigan, and he was working to fix the problem. Despite his promise, Brautigan never wrote more than the initial eleven pages of this story he began in Amsterdam (William Hjortsberg 793). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Brautigan wrote seven new poems and started two new stories, "Added Days" and "The Ad." Neither were ever finished and remain unpublished. See Stories > Unpublished > story titles.
Sunday, 1 July 1984
Brautigan was featured in "The Story of Brautigan in Big Sur" a memoir by Tamio Kageyama published in the July 1984 issue of Brutus. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Tamio.
end of July 1984
Brautigan collaborated with Richard Breen to write ten pages of an informal script and an eight-page outline of a screenplay for Brautigan's A Confederate General from Big Sur. The project was never completed.
Greg Keeler, his wife Judy, and their two sons arrived in Berkeley, California, to visit Greg's brother. Brautigan convinced them to drive to Bolinas for a day visit.
Brautigan wrote a seven page poem titled "The Full-Moon LA Olympics" after watching the opening ceremonies on television in his Bolinas home. The poem was never published. See Poetry > Uncollected > 1984 > poem title.
Brautigan closed his office above Vesuvio's Café and cleaned out his storage unit at the Army Street Mini-Storage. The items from both were taken by Mike York to Nucla, Colorado, where they remained until 1996 when they were discovered and purchased by Ted Latty, a Brautigan collector (William Hjortsberg 802-803). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
At the end of the month, Brautigan installed a telephone in his Bolinas home. Thinking that he might find success writing screenplays, Brautigan felt he needed to be more reachable. Brautigan called William "Gatz" Hjortsberg and asked him to collaborate on a screenplay about a woman serial killer. It was a mashup of Clichè and The Killer. Gatz suggested a new title: Skeletons in the Closet. The project never advanced beyond this initial conversation (William Hjortsberg 804, 805). See References > Biographies > Hjorstberg.
Brautigan also worked on a long prose piece about artist and writer Russell Chatham, a work that was never completed and remains unpublished. Seeking all sources of income, Brautigan wrote Paul Ferlazzo, head of the English Department at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, asking for a job teaching "fifteen students each term in writing prose" (William Hjortsberg 807). See References > Biographies > Hjorstberg.
Tuesday, 14 August 1984
Brautigan wrote his last letter to Takako Shiina. See Non-Fiction > Letters > Takako.
Saturday, 8 September 1984
Brautigan gave Robert Junsch and his wife Shallen, who lived in nearby
Stinson Beach, California, a number of signed books. In a copy of The Galilee Hitch-Hiker Brautigan wrote
This copy just is
wishing and concerned one more week. Let's see what happens. Why
not? (happiness + happiness)
Friday, 14 September 1984
Brautigan was driven to San Francisco by Robert and Shallen Junsch. Brautigan went to Enrico's for several drinks. Brautigan invited a woman he met at Enrico's to get something to eat next door at Vanessi's Restaurant. Pausing inside the restaurant, Brautigan looked back through the glass doors and saw his former wife, Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura. They had divorced four years earlier. Living in Los Angeles, she was in San Francisco with a photographer, on assignment when she accidentaly saw Brautigan walking into the restaurant and followed him. Brautigan seemed shocked to see her, turned away, and walked into the restaurant.
After eating, Brautigan returned to Enrico's where he met Marcia Clay, a former girlfriend with whom he had broken off from also four years earlier when she sided with Akiko in the divorce. Brautigan and Clay talked and Brautigan told her The Total Absence of Twilight, calling it his current novel.
When Clay left, after promising to call, Brautigan went to Cho-Cho Tempura Bar where he had several more drinks. Leaving Cho-Cho, Brautigan went to Gino & Carlo's, and then perhaps other bars, ending up at the Washbag. Kevin Clancy drove Brautigan from North Beach to Bolinas. That night, Brautigan attempted suicide by taking handful of sleeping pills (William Hjortsberg 810). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Saturday, 15 September 1984
Brautigan visited with Andy Cole, telling him about meeting his former wife Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura. Later in the day he saw Margot Doss. At 11:00 PM, Marcia Clay telephoned Brautigan who said he wanted to read something to her but had to hang up the phone to find it. "Call me back in ten minutes," he said. When Clay called back Brautigan did not answer. She called repeatedly, each time getting only the answering machine (William Hjortsberg 811). See References > Biographies > Hjortsberg.
Sunday, 16 September 1984
Brautigan checked the timer that would turn his house lights on and off at set times. He telephoned long-time friend Don Carpenter, ending their short conversation saying, "I love you. Goodbye." He turned up the volume on the radio. Then, standing in front of the window, facing out toward the ocean, Brautigan put Sakata's gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was 49.
As Marcia Clay and other concerned friends called over the next days the batteries in Brautigan's answering machine ran down. Brautigan's recorded voice took on a surreal quality (Lawrence Wright 59-60). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Memoirs > Wright.
Thursday, 25 October 1984
Becky Fonda, wife of Peter Fonda, after not hearing from Brautigan for weeks, asked David Fechheimer, a private investigator in San Francisco, to check on Brautigan. Fechheimer allegedly called a friend in Bolinas, California. Robert Yench, of Bolinas, found Brautigan's badly-decomposed body in the second-story living room, near the walk-in fireplace, of Brautigan's home at 6 Terrrace Avenue. A .44 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun was found nearby with one fired bullet under the hammer. A gunshot wound to the head was the determined cause of death. Many obituaries, memoirs, and tributes were written about and for Richard Brautigan.
Brautigan's death rekindled bad feelings between his parents, Bernard F. Brautigan and Lulu Mary Keho as Mark Barabak recounted in his obituary for Brautigan. See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes > Obituaries > Barabak.
Brautigan's death also stirred up memories, and even some guilt, among his fans.
Feedback from Brad Harrison
"One of the first things my wife Susan and I found we had in common when we met in 1978 was our love of Brautigan's books. Long after we were married, in the summer of 1984, we were driving from Buena Vista to Fairplay, Colorado, when we crossed a pass called 'Trout Creek Pass.' I pulled over and got my fly rod out of the back of the car. My wife took a picture of me standing in front of the 'Trout Creek Pass' sign. We agreed we would find some way of getting that picture to Brautigan. We got back into the car, and when I was pulling out we were almost crushed by a large truck that came flying out of nowhere, his horn blaring. I thought we were dead. A narrow escape—foreboding?
"We read the 'Milestone' entry about Brautigan's suicide just a few weeks later in Newsweek,
before we had a chance to send that picture. I couldn't believe it. I
always wondered if delaying on getting that picture to his publisher was
a mistake, that it could have somehow helped. Which is probably stupid,
but from your website it sounds like that is what he needed most of
all—to hear from his readers. I had just finished So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away."
— Brad Harrison. Email to John F. Barber, 7 December 2007.
Feedback from Georgia Donovan
"In the fall of 1984, Brad [Donovan] [See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Tributes > Donovan] and I were in Livingston, Montana, waiting for Richard to come home from his trail around the world. He was over-due, and we were expecting him sometime, maybe soon, and then became concerned. We didn't anticipate what had happened. Yes, we knew from experience that he could get depressed, especially during the full moons of fall. He'd usually call. One year he called to tell me 'a ghost story without a ghost.'
"Well . . . during the month after the September full moon, I got creeped out. It can be a spooky time of year. I'd never seen a ghost. My deeper thoughts are capped off by a fairly analytical nature, so maybe I was ruling out the 'unreal.' And yet, I developed a fear of looking at our windows at night, because I was absolutely afraid that I would see a dancing skeleton. That was the image that popped into my mind every time. A grinning, dancing skeleton... Now, I guess I was an expert at denial. I did not associate this with Richard. And yet, I had some very good times with Richard during what I teasingly called his "old age" phase, when he had broken his leg and went about with a cane. He was almost dignified, even jolly, if I'm allowed to stretch it a bit. We had pleasant times during those days. Since I had to work late and missed the "Burger Special" at the Eagles Bar, Richard would always make sure the waitress saved me a burger-plate, with another paper plate over it, wrapped in tin-foil, like a steaming hamburger UFO . . . It was sweet.
"And he would dance about with his cane. Think Grateful Dead style. He knew those guys in San Francisco. And now he was dead. Presumably gratefully, since it was his decision. After we found out, and I'll skip the part about the shock and mind-bending horror, the skeleton-reflection-images stopped. Just like that.
"I think it was him, rippling through the ether-world with his odd-humored way of saying, yoo-hoo . . . could somebody please find me? Because it was taking awhile for somebody to find him. Because he chose to do this far from his friends in Montana, so that those dear ones would NOT see that. I shouldn't have been surprised, and yet I was, completely, because I was remembering all the ways that Richard would enjoy little bits of life, making the most out of what came along. Hindsight . . . years before, during financial difficulty, my sister, Mary, said to him, 'Why don't you sell your house in Bolinas?' Richard answered, 'Oh, I'm saving that for later, for the end part of my life.' Being young and naturally optimistic, we figured that meant 'retirement years.' Of course, Richard thought differently.
"After all these years of not thinking about it as much as possible, I can finally appreciate his little ghost story."
— Georgia Donovan. Email to John F. Barber, 8 June 2011.
Cathy Carter , lived in Bolinas, and believes she saw Brautigan on the last day of his life.
"I was co-owner (1978-2013) with my then husband of the home at the end of Wharf Rd, Bolinas; it is located on the water where the Lagoon meets the ocean. The property was given to my ex-husband in our divorce. I did not know Richard personally, but, as an English lit. major at SFSU, knew of him. The visual memory of seeing Richard at the end of Wharf Road, for seemingly hours, on what turned out most likely to be his last day, I still remember quite clearly. It remains a 'wish I had' memory.
"On the day of what was determined to be Richard's death, there was a terrible stench from an intense red tide—the Lagoon water was red—and it was densely filled with small fish. It had been an unusually hot week in Bolinas, no breeze, yet I couldn't open windows due to the horrible smell—caused by thousands of anchovies suffocating in the Lagoon, trapped due to their numbers and unable to return out to sea. In 37 yrs of living there (1976-2013), I'd never seen before, or experienced since, anything similar to that day.
"I had closed our wooden blinds and curtains—for an attempt to try to keep from heating up further inside, and because it was exceedingly depressing to look out. The home is built on the mouth of the Lagoon, last house on Wharf Rd. before the beach and the rocks—where I saw Richard when I peeped out, as it was feeling rather claustrophobic inside with the shades drawn. In those days, we were the only full-time residents on Wharf, which was empty of human life that day—except for Richard and me.
"Richard was on the rocks (part of our property that was given in an easement to the County, and in direct view from our dining room windows). He had moved from the bench to a lower level of the rocks, laying on his stomach, face down and quite close to the water, staring at the dying anchovies for a very long while without moving. What struck me the most was that he didn't move his body at all, how closely he was intensely observing the fish, mesmerized. And, I did feel then that, due to his attachment with fish, he was feeling equally (possibly more so) depressed at their plight, with nothing any of us could do to save them.
"I was conflicted about whether to invite him in for tea or such, or let him be. I'd spent 1960s-70s around the super stars of the SF rock/ Bill Graham scene (did light shows, my ex traveled with Airplane, Doobies, etc), and by the 80s was being reclusive, reverting to shyness. After I had tossed that around for awhile, I saw him walking towards the house/ town, looking down, then he was gone.
I felt regret soon after, that I didn't get out of myself to connect with him. It's been a life lesson—I do wonder if I'd just stepped outside onto the street, and offered some human contact, if what evidently happened soon after might not have.
So, that's my memory, John. I'm certainly not the cause of his
death—meant to write that I knew of a possible cause of his death. I do
believe all the circumstances of the day (not night) that I describe
above did contribute to significantly deepen his depression, then
— Email to John F. Barber, 26 January 2018
Ianthe Brautigan notes in her memoir, You Can't Catch Death, "I've bought a plot for my dad in a small cemetery near a seaside town on the rocky northern California coast. An elderly man, the volunteer caretaker, helped me with the purchase. There is a sheep pasture on one side of the cemetery and a grove of eucalyptus trees at the far end. The plot I purchased is at the top near the shade of several creaking trees. My dad spent so much time avoiding the sun I can't see putting him in direct afternoon rays with no respite. . . I know my father should have a marker and a place. But, placing a headstone would require knowing what I want carved in the stone. . . . I have decided on white marble, and I have decided that I don't take having the last word lightly" (Ianthe Brautigan 134-135). See Obituaries-Memoirs-Tributes Memoirs > Ianthe.
Brautigan's burial plot is possibly located in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery (aka Bodega Calvary Cemetary) in Bodega, California, near the top of the hill and under the shade of eucalyptus trees there. Ianthe Brautigan purchased a plot in this cemetery, which is listed under the name "Robert G. Brautigan," but apparently has not yet erected a marker. The cemetery is connected with St. Philips in nearby Occidental, California.
Highlights: Brautigan's second wife, Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), seeks reward from estate following his death.
A photograph of Brautigan, apparently an outtake from an article by John Stickney about Brautigan in the 14 August 1970 issue of LIFE magazine ("Gentle Poet of the Young: A Cult Grows around Richard Brautigan," see References > Studies > Stickney) was used in a boxed trivia game titled "LIFE Magazine Remembers" issued by Time Life in 1985 (printed by Selchow & Righter). The game featured a set of 702 playing cards, each with a popular and/or famous photograph from the archives of LIFE magazine. Each card had a series of questions about the subject on the back side.
The 3" x 5" Brautigan card was number 34 from the set. The front shows a
full bleed black and white photograph of Brautigan. The back features a
smaller version of the same photograph, Brautigan's name, trade text,
and four trivia questions
A. Who is this author of In Watermelon Sugar? (Richard Brautigan)
B. What is the title of his novel that reflects his California background? (A Confederate General From Big Sur)
C. As a San Francisco author, what group of American writers is he identified with? ("The Beat Generation")
D. Who wrote On The Road, perhaps the best known of the group this man is identified with? (Jack Kerouac)
Friday, 8 March 1985
Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa), Brautigan's second wife, filed a petition to probate Brautigan's will dated 23 September 1977, contending their divorce settlement did not revoke Brautigan's will in which she was to be awarded half of the estate following his death. Brautigan and Akiko were married 1 December 1977, in Richmond, California. They separated on 4 December 1979. The final judgement of divorce was issued 12 November 1980.
Richard A. Hodge and Ianthe Brautigan, as trustees for the estate of Richard Brautigan, agreed to pay Akiko Yoshimura (Nishizawa) $13,000 and 15% of all proceeds in excess of $75,000 derived from the sale of any assets from Brautigan's estate, except for his properties in Montana. In return, Yoshimura (Nishizawa) agreed to relinquish any claims or rights to Brautigan's estate or under his will.
Highlights: Bolinas property sold.
Monday, 23 May 1986
Richard A. Hodge granted all right, title, and interest to Brautigan's property in Bolinas, California. Hodge granted full title and interest to the same property to Ianthe Brautigan on this same day. Ianthe sold the property, located at 6 Terrace Avenue, to James Zeno, Jr. and Karlyn Zeno, of Bolinas, California, 12 August 1986.
Highlights: Brautigan noted as one of 100 men and women from Washington state who changed the world.
In the Special Centennial Issue of Washington, The Evergreen State Magazine, published in conjunction with Washington State's Centennial celebrations, Brautigan was noted as one of the "100 Washingtonians Who've Changed the World."
The full text for the entry regarding Brautigan reads
Author, 1935-1984. His offbeat novels (notably Trout Fishing in America) and poems echoed youth's 1960s disenchantment with the American Dream and made this Tacoma native a certifiable counterculture hero. No longer a publishing success in the '80s, he used a bullet to officially end his career. Probably the last person to talk with him, novelist Don Carpenter, describes Brautigan as "the most important writer to come out of the Pacific Northwest—ever. I'm not kidding."
(Washington, vol. 5, no. 3, Nov. 1988, p. 106.
Highlights: Brautigan's first collection of works (1969) re-published.
The collection Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, In Watermelon Sugar, first published in 1969, was re-published. Front cover photograph by Erik Weber was the same one used for the first edition of Trout Fishing in America.
Brautigan's legacy is muti-faceted. His published work includes ten books of poetry, eleven novels, one collection of short stories, essays and non-fiction writing, four volumes of collected works, and a record album of spoken voice recordings.
Perhaps his best-known works are his novel, Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster (1968), and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
As an author, Brautigan is remembered for his detached, anonymous first person point of view, his idiosyncratic, autobiographical, quirky, yet easy-to-read prose style and episodic narrative structure full of unconventional but vivid images powered by imagination, strange and detailed observational metaphors, humor, and satire, all presented in a seemingly simplistic, childlike manner.
Readers and critics continue to debate, however, whether Brautigan's style is indeed simplistic. For example, Trout Fishing in America can be said to represent the novel itself being written by Brautigan, a character in the novel, a place, an outdoor sport, a religion, a state of mind, and a symbol of the American pastoral ideal lost to commercialism, environmental degradation, and social decay.
Today, scholars, researchers, writers, readers, artists, musicians, and other creative peoples find inspiration in the works of Richard Brautigan. This interest is international, with his works translated into at least forty languages.
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