Brautigan reached the height of his literary success during the decade of the 1970s. His first collection of short stories was published, as was his best known collection of poetry. The novels he published during this decade all experimented with unusual literary genres; none followed in the path of his famous Trout Fishing in America
. More information and resources about Brautigan, his life, and work during this decade are below.
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.
Brautigan published four chapters from his forthcoming novel The Abortion
, "The Library," "The Automobile Accident," "The 23," and "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come out Tonight?" in The Dutton Review
(1) 1970: 167-182.
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." Beat Scene
3 Autumn 1988: 1-9) and Lawrence Wright ("The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan.
" Rolling Stone
11 April 1985: 29, 31, 34, 36, 38, 40, 59, 61.) recount 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?
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.
Wednesday, 4 February 1970
Brautigan participated in a poetry reading and reception in Losekamp Hall at Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana.
Brautigan's story "The Betrayed Kingdom"
was first published in Evergreen Review
76 March 1970: 51. It was collected in Revenge of the Lawn
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 Borad of Directors, in 1970 and remained affiliated with the school until 1972. Brautigan visited both locations in 1969. This photograph, taken by Steve Hansen, appeared in John Stickney's Life
magazine article "Gentle Poet of the Young: A Cult Grows around Richard Brautigan,"
(69 (7) 14 August 1970: 49-52, 54). 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, a 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
. Ed. David Seybold. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988. 127-139.
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.
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
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.
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 Rolling Stone
(60) June 11, 1970: 26. This poem was never collected.
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.
This 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 Rolling Stone
(63) 23 July 1970: 15.
Monday, 27 July 1970
Final judgement issued for the divorce between Brautigan and Virginia Dionne Alder
Brautigan's story "Homage to the San Francisco YMCA"
was first published in Vogue
(158) July 1971: 96-97.
Brautigan's stories "1692 Cotton Mather Newsreel," "Sand Castles,"
and "Pacific Radio Fire"
were first published under the title "Three Stories by Richard Brautigan" in Mademoiselle
(71) July 1970: 104-105.
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.
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
This 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. Geoff Nicholson noted that Brautigan's Texas fishing license is part of artist Richard Prince's extraordinary collection of first editions and literary curios (Nicholson, Geoff. "Rare Bits & Pieces" BookForum
February / March 2009).
the full text of this essay.
Nicholson's essay at the BookForum website
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 Esquire
(74) October 1970: 152-153. They were collected in Revenge of the Lawn
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.
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.
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's story "Complicated Banking Problems"
was first published in Evergreen Review
84 November 1970: 41. It was collected in Revenge of the Lawn
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 Playboy
December 1970: 164-165. The stories were collected in Revenge of the Lawn
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). Despite all, Brautigan's success began to falter and continued to do so 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 standing on Geary Street, San Francisco, 1971. Photograph by Ianthe Brautigan
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.
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 California Living
, the magazine section of San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
, 16 May 1971: 7-10, under the title "A Taste of the Taste of Brautigan." All were collected in Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork
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 apparently 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.
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.
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.
the full text of this story.
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 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
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.
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. Photograph by Ross Smith, used by permission.
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.
This 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
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
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)
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.
Brautigan had lived periodically in Bolinas since at least May 1964 when he started writing In Watermelon Sugar
. LEARN more >>>
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.
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.
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.
Brautigan, his novel The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966
, and his collection of short stories Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970
were noted in the booklet Washington State Authors 1971
(Washington State Library, Olympia, Washington, March 1972: 1).
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
This 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, Phil Patton's article, "The Dude Is Back in Town" (The New York Times
18 April 1993, Sec. 9:10), 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."
the full text of 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.
the full text of 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.
the full text of 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), 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.
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.
by Greg Keeler
shows Brautigan's ranch in the distance against the Absaroka Mountains, in Montana's Paradise Valley, along the Yellowstone River, just south of Livingston, Montana. Brautigan's red barn, with white roof, can be seen in the middle distance of the photograph, directly above the distant curve of Trail Creek Road.
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
Brautigan and Jan Erik Vold in front of Brautigan's 2546 Geary Street apartment
, 1974. Vold, a Norwegian poet and translator, studied language and literature at the University of California Santa Barbara in the 1960s. Vold and Olav Angell visited Brautigan in San Francisco. Vold 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
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. This photograph by Ross Smith shows the main house and the barn. The window in the top of the barn was Brautigan's writing room, suspended in the rafters, three stories above the ground. The 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.
Additional photographs of Brautigan's ranch by Ross Smith . . .
Ross Smith's Facebook album of Brautigan-related photographic images
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.
began enjoying 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. This 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. Fryer was paid $125.00 for his photographs.
Additional photographs taken by John Fryer during his 1974 photo shoot with Brautigan . . .
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.
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.
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
. This is one of those photographs.
Another photograph was taken by Weber at the All American Bowling Trophy Supply where Brautigan stood frowning in front of the door.
took eighteen more photographs of Brautigan at a bowling alley on Chestnut Street, San Francisco, California. Brautigan posed 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.
This photograph was used on the front cover of the Jonathan Cape edition, 1976.
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."
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
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 have fun!
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 intense and long-lasting 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
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 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."
(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). 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
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
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
From his room, 3003 on the thirtieth floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel, Brautigan explored the neighborhood, writing observations, and complete 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
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
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. Lewis noted 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
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
Not long after her birthday, 25 March, Brautigan's daughter, Ianthe
left Hawaii bound for Tokyo and a visit with her father. Ianthe chronicles her trip in her memoir, You Can't Catch Death
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
Tuesday, 27 September 1977
Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942
was 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.
He 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.
end of August 1978
Brautigan and Akiko (Nishizawa) Yoshimura
moved dto 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)
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.
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.
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 reads
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.
June 30th, June 30th
published. 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.
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).
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
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. 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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