Richard Brautigan's legacy is his continued inspiration for creative efforts by others. Readers continue to be attracted to his easy-to-read yet idiosyncratic prose style. Writers continue to emulate his writing style complete with his humor and use of whimsy, or at least refer to Brautigan and his works. Scholars continue to argue Brautigan's place in American literature. And musicians and artists continue to interpret his work, or are inspired to create their own. This node provides an overview of such efforts, and links to further information and resources. Use this node to find information about Brautigan's legacy.
In this short story Autin-Grenier tells of being impressed by Brautigan's story "The Pacific Ocean", probably his favorite of all Brautigan's works. He would like to rewrite this story in his own way and tells what he would like to write. But, sitting at his desk, he is totally unable to write a single word. He tries to write until the postman arrives and then uncorks a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé, a French wine, and enjoys glasses of wine with the postman, proposing toasts to the Pacific Ocean, to Brautigan, and to his fiasco rewriting Brautigan's story.
Bly, Carol. "Chronology in the Short Story." The Passionate, Accurate Story: Making Your Heart's Truth into Literature. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 1990. 109.
Short story writer and teacher of advanced writing courses uses a story by Brautigan to detail a writing exercise saying,
Richard Brautigan wrote a stunning short story called "The World War I Los Angeles Airplane," in which the story is simply a list of thirty-three items in a man's life. The thirty-third is a repetition of an earlier item. By the time all thirty-three are stated, the reader has been given the personality of a man of generosity not taught generosity by his society. He has a sense of beauty not taught by his background. It is one of the loveliest stories I've ever read. It is three pages long.
We can learn a chronology lesson from Brautigan. It is that if a meaningful scene, no matter how short, is set next to another meaningful scene, feeling and value multiply. The reader rejoices in the queer, abortive spaces between these brief scenes. Let's try it ourselves. Let's say we half-see in our mind's eye a marvelous or horrible character. Let's pretend (not writing but simply reviewing in the mind only) that we are doing his or her autobiography. Then let's have a piece of paper with thirty lines, numbered. Then choose thirty events or half-hours in that person's life and write them down. Then think of the most telling of those scenes—and repeat it, for item number thirty-one.
Such an exercise returns writers from the jagged world of disturbed chronology. (109-110)
Warner, Sharon Oard. "What We Write About When We Write About Love." The Writer 115(11) November 2002: 41-43.
Recounts turning to this creative writing exercise. Says,
Upon reading that story, I immediately saw Bly's point: "We can learn a chronology lesson from Brautigan," she writes. "It is that if a meaningful scene, no matter how short, is set next to another meaningful scene, feeling and value multiply." (43)
Burges, Laura. "Fantasy: Apologies to Brautigan." San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle California Living 30 March 1975: 10.
Burges parodied Brautigan's writing style in a fragment of a "lost" Brautigan manuscript.
Dejaeger, Éric. "A Great Discovery Lost In A Dish Recipe." Tiny Shit. Walcourt: Les Éditions de l'heure [In the Hour Press]. 2000. 3.
12 pages. Contains 10 texts by Dejaeger, all in English. This one, a poem, is dedicated to Brautigan after his poem about a disgusting fart, "December 30".
The poem, reprinted by permission, reads,
To the memory of
at the left side
of the Lord.
A few days ago
my guiltless nostrils
one minute long
that I wanted
to be far away
from my own self
if I were able
to create such
foul wraith entities
to my liking
within the week
no bloody mind
to speak with
No bad temper
what the hell
did I eat
a few days ago?
—. "Les Conditions Atmosphériques Hivernales Provoquent-elles des Illusions d'optique?" [Do Winter Weather Conditions Provoke Optical Illusions?]. Poèmes Réincarnés dans un Orteil Aimé [Poems Reincarnated In A Beloved Toe]. Bruxelles: Les Carnets du Dessert de Lune, 2001. 39.
54 pages; ISBN 2-930235-18-7
Cover illustration by Michel Wilhelmi
The poem, reprinted by permission, reads,
One evening January 1999 round 9 p.m.
I'm watching through the window
I've put the outside spotlight on
to fully appreciate the show of the fir-trees
disarticulated by the squalls
Suddenly I see a guy calmly crossing my lawn
Tall, thin, long hair, a big mustache, glasses
& a large black hat that he holds
on his head with his hand
I watch him crossing the lit field
& slowly disappearing
into the darkness of a winter evening
Who will believe me if I assert that
by a winter evening Richard Brautigan
confused my garden
with his ranch in Montana?
128 pages; ISBN 2-930133-57-0
Cover illustration by François Nedonema.
A collection of short stories by Dejaeger. This story is about a fan who tries to imitate Brautigan. First, he tries to imitate Brautigan's writing but never succeeds in getting anything published. Then he tries to imitate Brautigan physically, but is 5 inches too short. Finally, at the age of 49, he plans to take his life and goes to Bolline (a town in Belgium) where he only succeeds in shooting off three toes on his right foot because, as the French expression goes, "nobody can raise to Brautigan's ankle," or in English, "he can't hold a candle to him."
Fluide Glacial 313 July 2002.
French monthly magazine
Remue-Méninges (27) March 2003.
Belgian small magazine
Douglas, Lynn. Naked Fish on the Window. Rockford, IL: Penumbra Press, 1994. n. pg.
A collection of poetry, including three poems: "to richard brautigan," "cybernetic ecology?", and "wilting wilting gone." The poem "to richard brautigan" (inside back cover) laments his death and concludes, "I am angry and sickened that I live in a generation and a world that has no Richard Brautigan." Through its word imagery "cybernetic ecology?" connects to "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," Trout Fishing in America, and In Watermelon Sugar. "wilting wilting gone" refers to "Pale Marble Movie."
The laid-in promotional flyer from the press reads, in part,
trailer court sluts, devil dogs from hell, wafting sex, underwater rivers, fugues, femmes seeking femmes, nose rings, love, cataclysms, effortless erotica, and Richard Brautigan all come together somewhere in West Virginia
Drouot, Vincent. "The Shangaï Check."
A poetic diary written by Drouot, a French artist, during a three-month visit to China. Dedicated "to Richard Brautigan, with my apologies"
Feedback from Christian Nelson, publisher, Kumquat Meringue
The work you've done is very important.
Christian Nelson. Email to John F. Barber, 3 March 2002.
Lemaire, Philippe. Le Dernier rêve de Richard Brautigan. (Richard Brautigan's Last Dream). Mi(ni)crobe #17. Pont-à-Celles, Belgium: Édition Microbe. 2008.
A short story in which Lemaire tries to imagine Brautigan's last moments and last dream.
Collage cover artwork by Lemaire.
Also published in Lemaire's La Bibliothèque d'un Rêveur (A Dreamer's Bookcase).
The Italian publisher of Brautigan's La Casa dei Libri [The Abortion; translated as The House of Books], Sognando Babilonia (Dreaming of Babylon), Pesca Alla Trota in America (Trout Fishing in America), and Willard e i soui trofei di bowling [Willard and His Bowling Trophies].
Feedback from Marco Zapparoli, publisher, Marcos y Marcos
I've just discovered your Brautigan Bibliography and Archive on the web. You have done a wonderful work! It is fantastic from any point of view!
Marco Zapparoli. Email to John F. Barber, 6 June 2002.
McLennan, Rob. The Richard Brautigan Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Powell River, BC, Canada: Talan Books, 1999.
McLennan titled his collection of poetry as an homage to Brautigan. Oddly, there is no mention of Brautigan anywhere in the book—nor is the title explained—although there is a note in McLennan's book Bury Me Deep in the Green Wood (Toronto, Canada: ECW Press, 1999) that says Brautigan was "the last of the beat poets out of San Francisco in the late 60's."
Feedback from Rob McLennan
The title is a reference to an unpublished short story
of Brautigan's called 'The F. Scott Fitzgerald Ahhhhhhhhhhh'".
Rob McLennan. Email to John F. Barber, 30 September 2002.
Bryson, Michael. "The Richard Brautigan Ahhhhhhhhhhh." The Danforth Review ***?***.
16 pages; Staple bound
Forward by Ruth Weiss
Front cover photograph by Alisa Botto of Mesler mimicking Brautigan's pose on the front cover of The Abortion
Winner of the 2005 Plan B Press Beat Aesthetic Short Fiction Chapbook Contest
Published by Livingston Press, March 31, 2010
Front cover photograph by Erik Weber
Rogal, Stan. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: Poems for Richard Brautigan. Ottawa: Above/Ground Press, 2004.
Published for the anniversary of the death of Richard Brautigan, 25 October 1984.
Sourdin, Bruno. "Blues pour Brautigan [Blues for Brautigan]." Microbe 25, September 2004: 9.
A poem for Brautigan by French poet Bruno Sourdin. English translation by Éric Dejaeger.
Ton téléphone sonne encore
au beau milieu de la nuit
près du juke-box déglingué
de North Beach.
Ici on entend toujours le canon
et les bruits de guerre.
Baudelaire a fermé son kiosque à hamburgers
sur le Haight.
Il n'aime plus aller danser au Fillmore
il ressemble à un homme égaré
il parle par énigmes
et ses mots se perdent dans le vent.
Des passants ordinaires marchent
près de lui sans le voir
envapé dans un repli du temps.
Que veux-tu que je te dise?
Moi aussi j'ai un cafard noir
je suis miné par la solitude
le dédain et les emmerdes
je n'y peux rien
et une dernière fois je cherche la clé
qui ouvrira la tombe
au fond de laquelle tu as appris
tous les secrets
que savent les corbeaux
il le faut.
Your telephone is still ringing
in the middle of the night
near the smashed-up jukebox
from north beach.
Here we can still hear the gun
and noises of the war.
Baudelaire has closed his hamburger stand
on the Haight.
He doesn't like going to dance at the Fillmore any longer
he looks like a bewildered man
he speaks with riddles
and his words get lost in the wind.
Ordinary pedestrians walk by
without seeing him
ripped in a time crease.
What do you want me to say?
I'm in a deep blues, too,
I'm sapped by loneliness
disdain and hassles
I can't help it
and I'm looking a last time for the key
that will open the tomb
at the bottom of which you've learnt
all the secrets
that ravens know
I need it.
Vinau, Thomas. L'Âne de Richard Brautigan [Richard Brautigan's Donkey]. Merville, France: Les éditions de soir au matin, 2009.
A chapbook featuring a series of short poems inspired by Brautigan. The context for each is that someone—a poet?, another author?—meets Brautigan, listens to what he says, and relates it to the reader. The author is also impressed that Brautigan is riding a donkey.
A poem from Brautigan's Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt cast in bronze and set into a concrete sidewalk.
Location: Municiple Transportation Agency (MUNI) stop at Embarcadero and Folsom, San Francisco, California
Barber, John F. "Richard Brautigan: An Annotated Bibliography."
Master's Thesis. University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1988.
Brown, Sheila Goodman. "A Carnival of Fears: Affirmation in the Postmodern American Grotesque." Dissertation Abstracts International 53/03A (1992): 0809. Florida State University, 1992.
This study examines grotesque forms in postmodern American literature and the various modes which reflect postmodern concerns. . . . In particular, this study analyzes works by Tennessee Williams, Ken Kesey, Joseph Heller, Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, John Irving, Raymond Carver, and Sam Shepard, contrasting them to the earlier works of Sherwood Anderson, Nathanael West, and Flannery O'Connor.
Butts, Leonard Culver. "Nature in the Selected Works of Four Contemporary American Novelists." Dissertation Abstracts International 40/12 (1980): 6277A. The University of Tennessee, December 1979.
While much of recent American literature seems to exhibit only depression, despair, absurdity and alienation as characteristic responses to the bleakness of life in a modern technological society, a few literary artists have felt that the only recourse from, or alternative to, the constriction of spirit and feeling in the mechanized, computerized world is to return—almost in desperation—to "nature" as if humanity's only hope lay in rediscovering those "natural" or spontaneous hopes, desires, passions and dreams that make us fully human. We have not said enough, it seems to me, about these contemporary writers who, in taking the "return to nature" as one of their principal ways of recovering the wholeness of being that has been eroded by modern civilization, offer an optimistic alternative to the doomsayers of contemporary American literature. Thus this study is concerned with how and why novelists James Dickey, John Gardner, Richard Brautigan and John Updike are united in their interests in investigating the natural world as a means of restoring value and meaning to individual human lives.
These four writers, in suggesting that nature contains the means of countering the imposing threat of domination by civilization and in associating nature with the intuitive and imaginative freedom neglected by a highly scientific and rational society, are working within a well-defined literary tradition. In affirming the value of the "return to nature," Dickey, Gardner, Brautigan and Updike align themselves with those major American writers—Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Steinbeck, Hemingway and Faulkner—who have viewed the natural world as the source of forces which enable the individual to escape the suffocating crush of civilization. Dickey, Gardner, Brautigan, Updike, each in his own way, suggest that the movement into and return from the natural world can heal the broken spirit and release the suppressed physical and mental potential for an urban-oriented, over-specialized population. Thus these four novelists, like their romantic predecessors, search for the vital balance of nature and civilization, the conscious and unconscious minds. Their subject is humanity in the post-World War II world; but their theme is one that places them squarely in the tradition of American letters.
Chaffin, Terrell. "Seven Pieces for Violin and Piano," "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment (Oh Marcia)," and "Erotica II."
Master's Thesis. University of California, San Diego, 1983.
Work includes violin and piano music, songs for the harp, electronic, and computer music. The title "I Lie Here in a Strange Girl's Apartment (Oh Marcia)" was inspired by the Brautigan poem of the same title, first published in 1967 in All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.
El-Haggen, Rasha. "Interpreting Richard Brautigan's The Kool-Aid Wino." University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1999.
An essay submitted by El-Haggen for an English class.
Gottschall, Claudia. "Unspeakable Visions": Beat Consciousness and its Textual Representation." Dissertation Abstracts International 54/09A (1993): 3435. University of Oregon, 1993.
This study explores the Beats' appropriation of Zen Buddhism into Western culture and its structures of signification. . . . Chapters IV-VI explore the influence of Zen on the works of Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, and Tom Robbins. Kerouac's appropriation of Zen is highly cerebral and therefore remains limited by the differentiation of discursive structures. Brautigan uses Zen to introduce the elements of silence and in-difference into his fiction, and thereby reaches towards the very margins of language. Robbins's fiction illustrates the mind of the Zen lunatic and counters stasis and opposition through motion and harmony.
Graddy, Julia Colomitz. "Richard Brautigan and the Pastoral Romance." Masters Abstracts 16 (1978): 232. Florida Atlantic University, 1978.
Hearron, William Thomas. "New Approaches in the Post-Modern American Novel: Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, & Richard Brautigan." Dissertation Abstracts International 34/06A (1973): 3398A-99A. State University of New York at Buffalo, 1973.
Horvath, Brooke Kenton. "Dropping Out: Spiritual Crisis and Countercultural Attitudes in Four American Novelists of the 1960s." Dissertation Abstracts International 47/06A (1986): 2157A-58A. Purdue University, May 1986.
The 1960s was a decade of spiritual as well as political restlessness. The counterculture embodied one highly visible manifestation of this spiritual discontent and of the problems attending its resolution in contemporary America. The period's fiction constitutes a second manifestation of these concerns. As a social phenomenon, the counterculture also forms a significant part of the social context within which this fiction was written, a context affecting the attitudes and beliefs of many authors, including the four under consideration here: Walker Percy, John Updike, Richard Brautigan, and Thomas Pynchon. . . . Chapter Five discusses several works by Brautigan and the various ploys they use to gain imaginative control over death.
Iftekharuddin, Farhat Mohammed. "Richard Brautigan: A Critical Look at Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar and The Abortion." Dissertation Abstracts International 50 (1990): 2896A. Oklahoma State University, July 1989.
Richard Brautigan who has often been cast as a writer of "hippie" fiction of the 1960's has proven himself otherwise with important novels like Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, and The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, novels that have made their impression and left their mark on the genre itself. An accomplished author, Brautigan's works are marked by a personal vision that is representative of many aspects of the American imagination. His genius lies in his ability to portray old themes of human alienation, broken dreams, and loneliness in completely new images that are often startling in their originality. Brautigan's special appeal to readers of all ages lies in his ability to capture the remnants of the American dream and frame it within either a lost pastoral background, or a utopian hope for a future society, or even to transform that dream into a sad burlesque. By doing so, the author has produced works that, on one hand, incorporate the sense of growing disaster, and on the other, provide the notion of possibilities within an increasingly detached contemporary society. The creative energy of Brautigan's works illumines the past anew and as a result certain aspects of the American imagination take on a deeper perspective and acquire a richer hue. Brautigan's novels are an assertion of his own identity in the development of the American myth.
Kent, Brian. "Trout Fishing in America: Death Mask of the Imagination."
Master's Thesis. University of Vermont, 1988.
Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America is one of the most distinctive books to come out of a decade of literary inventiveness and experimentation in the 1960s. [It] remains the artistic high point of his career and a book whose merits will likely endure. The book is organized into three major categories: the narrator's childhood memories, his experiences as an adult living in San Francisco, and his ongoing fishing trip through the western United States which provides the novel's central focus of activity. The narrator arrives at a new vision for how to cope with a hostile contemporary environment by assimilating and synthesizing important discoveries within these three categories of experience. Once he has arrived at this vision the narrator becomes a chronicler of how it came to be using insights revealed in the stylistic elements which inform his tale. The three most prominent stylistic features which convey the narrator's discovery, and hence Brautigan's artistic vision, are the abstract and spatial use of the novel's title phrase—Trout Fishing in America; the examination of and experimentation with linguistic and nonlinguistic forms; and the bizarre manipulation of language, particularly through similes and metaphors. The combination of Brautigan's narrative structure and stylistic expression dramatizes the crucial importance he places on using the mind, using the imagination, to create existence, rather than surrendering the mind to the corrupting influences of twentieth century America.
Phillips, Rodney L. "The Beat Goes On: Voices of the Second Generation." Forest Beatniks and Urban Thoreaus: Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch and Michael McClure. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2000: 132-134.
Publication of the original dissertation. In this, the final chapter, Phillips says for Brautigan, American nature was in a fallen state and showed little or no hope of revival.
Phillips, Rodney L. "'Forest Beatniks' and 'Urban Thoreaus'; Beat Literatuare and Nature (Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, Michael McClure)." Dissertation Abstracts International 57/05A (1996): 2104. Michigan State University, 1996.
Since the Beat Movement first rose to attention in 1955, critics have tended to view it as an urban phenomenon—the product of a post-war youth culture with roots in the cities of New York and San Francisco. This study examines another side of the Beat Movement: its strong desire for a reconnection with nature. Although each took a different path in attaining this goal, the four writers considered here—Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Lew Welch, and Michael McClure—sought a new and closer connection with the natural world. . . . The final chapter examines the work of several other writers of the Beat period and their contributions in regard to nature and environmental writing: Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, Kirby Doyle, Ed Sanders, and Richard Brautigan.
Robbins, Gwen A. "A Magic Box and Richard Brautigan." Dissertation Abstracts International 40/08A (1980): 4592A. Oklahoma State University, July 1979.
Scope of Study
This dissertation examines Richard Brautigan's novels in relation to a magic box metaphor, that is, an implied comparison to a fictional technique that portrays through multiple modes of perception the various layers of reality. The aim here is to establish the magic box metaphor through Hermann Hesse's The Steppenwolf and examine its development in selected novels by other authors. In turn, this study will examine Richard Brautigan's use of the magic box metaphor in his eight novels to date.
Findings and Conclusions
This study reveals that the magic box metaphor explicit in Pablo's "Magic Theater" in The Steppenwolf stands for a certain type of fiction, which through multiple modes of perception reveals various levels of reality. As early as the Eighteenth century Defoe mixes imagination with concrete facts in Moll Flanders; Richardson portrays subjective states of mind through character, form, and symbol in Clarissa and while Austen conveys the classic construct of reality per se in Pride and Prejudice, Sterne portrays surreality through the mind of Tristam in Tristam Shandy. In the Nineteenth century, the Brontë sisters, Elliot, and Hardy introduce nature as a metaphor to reveal another mode of perception through which states of mind are portrayed; and in the Twentieth century, Nabakov like Hesse uses narrator, character, form, scene and structure to convey the many levels of reality that exist within the self. The analysis of Richard Brautigan's works reveals multiple use of the metaphor. His first two novels, Confederate General from Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America establish basic structural patterns. In Confederate General a scene plot line is supported by surrealistic elements, and in Trout Fishing in America a whole mosaic of boxes—chapters, sense impressions, dream scenes, symbols, metaphors—are controlled by the mind of the narrator and the imagination of the artist. The six novels that follow experiment in a variety of ways but in all eight of his works, Brautigan sees reality as a construct that can be exemplified in multiple dimensions. To Brautigan, reality is based on the personal perception of one's own multifaceted construct in which concrete experience is only the beginning departure.
Schiller, Neil. "The Historical Present: Notions of History, Time and Cultural Lineage in the Writing of Richard Brautigan."
Liverpool Hope University College, University of Liverpool, England, September 2003. Ph. D. Dissertation, in progress.
Feedback from Neil Schiller
I'm currently doing some research on Brautigan for a thesis I'm writing. I'm about a year in and I've just produced my first formal piece of work which is essentially a short conference paper providing an overview of what I intend to produce in the final analysis. I chose to work on Brautigan because I've always been interested, not so much in the Beats themselves, but in those writers upon whom they had an obvious influence but who came afterwards. Hence the MA Dissertation on Charles Bukowski and the interest I have in Ken Kesey, Raymond Carver, Kurt Vonnegut etc. I also find his experiences of the American sixties very interesting, especially when you compare them to the extremely corporate age we live in now.
Neil Schiller. Email to John F. Barber, 21 September 2003.
Schroeder, Michael Leroy. "Rhetoric in New Fiction." Dissertation Abstracts International 4709A (1986): 3430A. Kent State University, August 1986.
Deals with Kurt Vonnegut, Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, and Richard Brautigan.
Richard Brautigan uses naive narrators to create ambiguity and irony through the conflict between their innocent tone and the frequently unpleasant and death-filled worlds they depict. Brautigan's outrageous similes and metaphors and his fantastic content illustrate his recurrent theme about the importance of the healthy imagination.
Shin, Doo-Ho. "The Aesthetics of Indeterminacy: A Meeting Ground between Eastern Mysticism and Postmodernism and Selected Novels by Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, and Robert Pirsig." Dissertation Abstracts International 54/06A (1993): 2153. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1993.
Indeterminacy has become a dominant concern in postmodern literature and literary criticism as well as in other postmodern cultures and the research done [in] these areas demonstrates an abiding interest in indeterminacy. However, little effort has been made in establishing a meeting ground between Eastern mystical traditions and Western postmodern thought. And even less research has been done on the postmodern writers who pave a new way of understanding postmodern culture by establishing dialogue between the traditions of the East and literary postmodernism of the West.
This dissertation explores a meeting ground between Eastern mystical traditions and postmodern Western culture, attempts to account for it theoretically, and discusses how such dialogue works in selected novels by postmodernist writers, who not only employ postmodern indeterminacy but also incorporate Eastern mystical ideas in their works: Tom Robbins's [sic] Another Roadside Attraction, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, and Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
By studying these three authors' dominant concerns as these [sic] out from indeterminacy, we get a better sense of how far they have taken us in a postmodernist East-West dialogue of contemporary thought and expression and how the Easterners are potentially well equipped with spiritual traditions not only to understand Western postmodern literary phenomena which are still new to most Eastern readers but also to develop their own culture specific versions of postmodern literature and criticism.
Sweatt, Suzanne Mitchell. "Postmodernism in the Fiction of Richard Brautigan." Dissertation Abstracts International 46/09A (1985): 2690A. Middle Tennessee State University, August 1985.
During his lifetime, Richard Brautigan published ten novels and one collection of short stories. The themes and techniques of these innovative works of fiction contribute to that division of contemporary literature known as post-modernism.
This study identifies postmodernist elements in Brautigan's fiction, establishes Brautigan as an early initiator of postmodernism, and evaluates his place in contemporary literature. Recognizing the growth of technology, a change in the perception of reality, and the difficulties in establishing individuality in this fragmented world, Brautigan presents an anti-hero who survives by transforming reality, by enduring, or by forming a relationship with another person.
The first chapter, drawing from the contemporary criticism of John Barth, Leslie Fiedler, Jerome Klinkowitz, David Lodge and others characterizes postmodernism. Features of postmodernism include flat characterization, lack of plot development, lack of epiphany, multiple endings, typographical play and, frequently, the appearance of artlessness.
Chapter II discusses Brautigan's fiction of the 1960s: A Confederate General from Big Sur, Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 and Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970. These novels established Brautigan's reputation as an innovative author.
The five novels that Brautigan published in the 1970s are the subject of Chapter III: The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western, Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery, Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel, Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 and The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan's further experimentation with the novel form is evident in these works.
Brautigan's final novel, published in 1982, So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, blends elements of the traditional novel and the postmodernist novel to produce an important work. The study concludes that an understanding of Brautigan's themes and techniques can be best accomplished by knowing the totality of his fiction and the tenets of postmodernism.
Utschig, Andrew Steven. "Rethinking Apathy: Political Apathy from Kerouac to Coupland." Dissertation Abstracts International 61/04A (2000): 1600. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000.
In the post-war period in the United States, social scientists have often conflated apathy with non-participation or alienation. In addition, they have usually neither differentiated between apolitical and political variants of apathy, nor recognized that political apathy itself can take diverse forms. By contrast, this study argues that there are forms of apathy which are distinctly political, consciously chosen, and strategically staged. The dissertation investigates political apathy of this kind as it has been expressed in the writings of five authors often taken to be representative of American youth culture: Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Jay McInerney, and Douglas Coupland. The study argues that these authors express political apathy to varying degrees, though the particular form is different for each writer.
Way, Brian T. W. "The Fiction of Fishing: Richard Brautigan's Metafictional Romance." Dissertation Abstracts International 53/11A (1991): 3914. The University of Western Ontario (Canada), 1991.
This dissertation offers a reassessment of Brautigan's oeuvre by advancing a contemporary reading of his works within the critical and cultural environment of his times. After a preliminary examination of So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away to illustrate the artful complexity of Brautigan's final work, the dissertation examines the critical and literary framework that surrounded Brautigan's earliest writings, submitting that his works are best understood in a postmodern critical context. Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur, and In Watermelon Sugar are examined as metafictions, self-reflexive works that are concerned primarily with the nature of words and texts and which foreground the text itself as the dominant subject of fiction. In the 1970s, Brautigan turns this fully developed metafictional sensibility toward the genres of popular romance. Through a metafictional combination and adaptation of several romance forms, including western, gothic, erotic, detective and historical romance, these genre experimentations move Brautigan toward the development of a unique hybrid text that aspires to enfold all forms of human discourse in an elastic fictive structure—such is the final substance of Richard Brautigan's metafictional romance.
Wheeler, Elizabeth Patricia. "The Frontier Sensibility in Novels of Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan and Tom Robbins." Dissertation Abstracts International 46/04A October 1985: 985A. State University of New York at Stony Brook, December 1984.
. . . [T]he frontier is still affecting American culture and . . . a metaphorical frontier developed alongside the historical one . . . is still alive in Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1956), Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing In America (1967), and Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976). . . . In Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America the frontier only exists in the imagination, but in the novel creations of the imagination are the equal of objective reality. Like the historical pioneers, the protagonist and his family travel in search of a geographic paradise, but given the conventions of the frontier-inspired novel their quest is doomed. They move, though, for the frontier lives on in dreams and in works of the imagination such as this novel in which the imaginary is as real as the freeway that leads only to more freeway.
A Norwegian music group uses the title of Brautigan's poem for their album.
Gaute Drevdal, editor-in-chief for the biggest Norwegian entertainment
newspaper, Natt og Dag (Night and Day), says the title speaks to the contrast between humans and machines, specifically because this album features techno music. The topic of the title is just a relevant today as it was in the 1960s, he says. Apart from the title, the album does not purport to send any particular message, politically or otherwise. Drevdal concludes that the choice of title shows that the musicians seem to have deeper understanding of things than what is common in techno and house music.
Recordings by members of a Richard Brautigan newsgroup reading selected Brautigan works and their own. Issued in May 1998 as an audio tape. Recordings coordinated by Ken Keiran with permission from Ianthe Brautigan.
In Watermelon Sugar (Sarah Torreta)
Coffee (Jeremy Voss and Claudette)
Zartliche Gluhbirne (Effectionate [sic] Light Bulb) (Wolfgang Schwarz)
Greyhound Tragedy (Knight Berman, Jr.)
The 12,000,000, Real Estate, Taxi Driver, The Past Cannot Be Returned (Ryan Christoff)
The Pumpkin Tide, A Boat, The Pomegrantate [sic] Circus, Your Catfish Friend (Ken and Kelsey Keiran)
The Last Year the Trout Came up Hayman Creek (Ernest J. Green)
The Autopsy of Trout Fishing in America (Al Cronin)
Das verratene Koenigreich (The Betrayed Kingdom) (Wolfgang Schwarz)
Complicated Banking Problems (Jeremy Voss)
Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, Love Poem, The Beautiful Poem, Flowers for Those You Love (Ted Latty)
Lint, Women When They Put Their Clothes On, Halloween in Denver (excerpt) (Franklin Klock)
Love Poem, The Horse That Had a Flat Tire (Sarah Torretta)
Poker Star, Mrs. Myrtle Tate Movie Projectionist, Wood, Feasting and Drinking Went on Far into the Night, The History of Bolivia, We Stopped at Perfect Days (Ken Keiran)
September California (Knight Berman, Jr.)
Dreams Are Like the Wind, A Short Study in Gone, Floating Chandeliers, Worms, Taking No Chances, Speaking is Speaking, Playing Games, Love 12 (Al Cronin)
Trauerarbeit (I Feel Horrible. She Doesn't), Sexueller Unfall (Sexual Accident) (Wolfgang Schwarz)
The Scarlatti Tilt (Knight Berman, Jr.)
So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away (Ryan Christoff)
1/3, 1/3, 1/3 (Ernest J. Green)
The Return of the Rivers, 7 Watermelon Suns, San Francisco Weather Report (Ted Latty)
My Name (Al Cronin)
It Takes A Secret To Know A "Secret" (Ken and Kelsey Keiran)
The American Hotel Part 2 (Ryan Christoff)
Heroine of the Time Machine (Jeremy Voss)
Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4 (Ernest J. Green)
Horse Race (Ken Keiran)
Looking At My Bed, At the Guess of a Simple Hello, Taking No Chances (Ryan Christoff)
Ein unbegrenzter Vorrat an 35-mm-Film (An Unlimited Supply of 35 Millimeter Film) (Wolfgang Schwarz)
I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone (Knight Berman, Jr.)
A Confederate General from Big Sur (excerpt), Revenge of the Lawn (excerpt), But Does It Matter (story about RB) (Melanthe Alexian)
Hommage fur den CVJM San Fransisko (Homage to the San Francisco YMCA) (Wolfgang Schwarz)
More recordings by members of a Richard Brautigan newsgroup reading selected Brautigan works and their own. Issued in November 1999 as a compact disc. Recordings coordinated by Ken Keiran, mastered by LaVerne Kreklau, burned by David Johnson, with permission from Ianthe Brautigan.
Knight Berman, Jr.
1. "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" (1:37)
2. "No Hunting Without Permission" (3:53)
Hardy Koenig (submitted by Woody Hood)
3. "Hangover as Folk Art" (1:46)
4. "Dogs on the Roof" (1:18)
5. "Clouds over Egypt" (1:03)
6. "Kyoto, Montana' (0:45)
7. "Claudia/1923-1970" (0:38)
8. "January 17" (0:23)
9. "The Scarlattti Tilt" (0:21)
Jen Leibhart & Jeremy "Sexy Legs" Voss
10. (3 Poems in Greek) "Night", "Flowers For A Crow", "It's Time To Train Yourself" (0:45)
11. "I'll Effect You Slowly" (0:16)
12. "Margaret Again" (0:31)
13. "I Feel Horrible. She Doesn't" (0:15)
14. "It's Raining in Love" (1:06)
15. "Love Poem" (0:13)
16. "The Beautiful Poem" (0:17)
17. "Witness for Trout Fishing in America Peace" (3;23)
18. "The Galilee Hitch-Hiker" (4:38)
"The Galilee Hitch-Hiker" Part 1
"The American Hotel" Part 2
"1939" Part 3
"The Flowerburgers" Part 4
"The Hour of Eternity" Part 5
"Salvador Dali" Part 6
"A Baseball Game" Part 7
"Insane Asylum" Part 8
"My Insect Funeral" Part 9
19. "1692 Cotton Mather Newsreel" (5:18)
20. "The Smallest Snowstorm on Record" (2:08)
21. "Blackberry Motorist" (2:26)
22. "Winter Vacation" (1:04)
23. "Spiders Are in the House" (0:47)
24. "The Beacon" (2:09)
25. "The Riding Lesson" (2:43)
26. "Ghosts" (0:49)
Cindy Gendrich (submitted by Woody Hood)
27. "At the California Institute of Technology" (0:12)
28. "The Fever Monument" (0:18)
29. "Kitty Hawk Kimonos" (0:32)
30. "Talking" (0:42)
31. "In Watermelon Sugar" (2:57)
32. "The Gentle Cricket" (1:01)
33. "Passing to Where?" (0:12)
34. "Taxi Driver" (0:12)
35. "Your Departure Versus the Hindenburg" (0:25)
36. "Romance" (0:28)
Tim & Al Cronin
37. "The Lake Josephus Days" w[ith]/original score "Trout Duet" by Al Cronin (2:41)
38. "Deeply Do I Mourn, for My Friends Are Nothing Worth" (2:16)
39. "A Return to the Cover of this Book" (2:24)
40. (4 poems from Rommel Drives On Deep into Egypt) (1:15)
41. "The American Fool" (0:33)
42. "The Pork Chop Alligator" (excerpt) (2:04)
43. "Things to Do on a Boring Tokyo Night in a Hotel" (0:53)
44. "The Necessity of Appearing In Your Own Face" (0:13)
45. "Umbrellaing Herself Like A Poorly Designed Angel" (0:17)
46. "Fuck Me Like Fried Potatoes" (0:11)
47. "Ah, Great Expectations!" (0:23)
48. "Romeo and Juliet" (0:17)
49. "Love's Not the Way to Treat a Friend" (0:38)
50. "Nice Ass" (0:06)
51. (Story) Richard, Beverly & Ted (10:00)
"Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt"
"The Memories of Jesse James"
"Mrs. Myrtle Tate, Movie Projectionist"
"Critical Can Opener"
"Lions Are Growing like Yellow Roses on the Wind"
"Melting Ice Cream at the Edge of Your Final Thought"
I didn't know that afternoon the ground
was waiting to become another grave in just a few short days.
Too bad I couldnt grab the bullet out of the air and put it back into the rifle barrel.
And it would spiral itself back down the barrel
and into the chamber and
refasten itself into the shell
and it'd be as if it had never been fired or even loaded into the gun.
I wish the bullet was back in its box
with the other forty-nine brother and sister bullets
and the box was safely on the shelf in the gun shop
and I had just walked by the shop on that rainy february afternoon
and had never gone inside.
I wish I had been hungry for a hamburger instead of bullets.
There was a restaurant right next to the gun shop.
They had very good hamburgers, but i wasn't hungry.
For the rest of my life I will think about that hamburger.
I was sitting there at the counter holding it with tears draining down my cheeks.
The waitress will be looking away
because she doesn't like to see kids crying while they're eating hamburgers.
And also, she doesn't want to embarrass me.
I am the only customer in the restaurant.
Slowblow is an Icelandic musical duo consisting of Orri Jónsson and Dagur Kári Pétursson. They began recording in the mid-1990s, and created the soundtrack for the successful independent Icelandic movie Nói Albínói, which Dagur directed.
Saint Etienne Asleep at the Wheels of Steel
Compact disc, STET 7
Subtitled "Music for Lost and other films." Tracks 5-7 ("The Montana Gang," "Magic Child," and "The Chemicals") form the specially composed "Hawkline Suite"—a musical representation of Brautigan's novel The Hawkline Monster, published in 1974.
This album provided a sampling of work by composers at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Participants include: Renée Grant Williams, soprano; Stuart Dempster, trombone; Charles Shere, reader; Margaret Fabrizo, harpsichord; and George Marsh, conga drums. The album was concurrently released by Elektra in Hanover, West Germany apparently without Shere's reading.
Owens, David. "MIT Experimental Music Studio." High Fidelity 34 September 1984: MA24-25.
This review notes that during a concert in a series by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Experimental Music Studio, March 3, 1984, in Kresge Auditorium, James Moorer's performance of "Lions Are Growing Like Yellow Roses" fell flat.
Smith, Patricia. "Computers Make Music." Creative Computing July 1983: 111-112, 115.
Discusses the work of computer designer and composer Andy Moorer, Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Briefly mentions that two Brautigan poems (does not provide titles) were used in electronic music performance pieces. Says,
his demonstration tape illustrates his techniques. In "Perfect Days," there are three distinct sounds: Charles Shere's voice as he reads the Richard Brautigan poem, the sound of a flute played by Tim Weisberg, and a modified sound that is part speech and part flute, that has the vocal qualities of speech, but the pitch of the flute. (111)
In another piece based on a Richard Brautigan poem, Moorer took the voice reading the poem and changed some of the dynamics of the speech, for example, by adding some reverberation to portions of it. (115)
"Machines of Loving Grace"
Leland Smith, Professor Emeritus of Music, Stanford University, Department of Music
Composition for computer, bassoon, and reader
Premiered at Stanford's Dinkelspiel Hall on Sunday, 8 March 1970. "The work," said Smith's program notes,
is really an environment of sound (and, to a certain extent, sight) for a reading of the poem, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, by Richard Brautigan. The three parts of the poem mention a "cybernetic meadow," a "cybernetic forest" and a "cybernetic ecology" in which human beings can return to their natural, mammal state under the loving protection of computers. The music is presented by a bassoon (the human-mammal) and a PDP 10 computer. The main elements . . . grow out of three chords and two melodic lines which are heard in a wide variety of computer-chosen and human-chosen random deviations.
"The blend and emergence was exceptionally artful," said the San Francisco Chronicle, ". . . like an infinitely flexible organ playing a fantasia."
Smith, an East Oakland native, attended classes at Mills University from 1941 to 1943 while he was still in high school. He matriculated at University of California- Berkeley, receiving his master's degree in 1948. He resumed studies with Milhaud in 1946-1947 and worked with Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory in 1948-1949 before returning to Mills as a member of its faculty in 1951. He taught at the University of Chicago from 1953 to 1958, when he joined the Stanford faculty.
Thereafter he became one of the founders of the Stanford computer music program, a leading international expert on the use of artificial intelligence as a means of generating sound and notation, and an adviser to the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique Musique (IRCAM), the massive Paris-based French government project administered by Boulez. Score, a computer-produced publication process created by him, has been widely described as the leading program of its kind.
The Naked Puritans Concrete Tenderness
Naked Puritans, 2002
The first album by this Charlottesville, Virginia group features the song, "Machines of Loving Grace," which was inspired by and includes lyrics from Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace", published in 1967.
Knight Berman, Jr. Hoga-Rama
The Marble Tea
Point Pleasant, New Jersey
Presto Music, September 2001
EP Compact Disc
Five original recordings, including the song "Pacific Radio Fire" whose title and lyrics are based on Brautigan's story "Pacific Radio Fire" which was collected in Revenge of the Lawn, published in 1971. The Marble Tea is Berman's songwriting/home-recording project. It's name is inspired by Brautigan's poetry collection Lay the Marble Tea, published in 1959.
Gary Frenay Armory Square
Syracuse, NY: Northside Records, 1993
Compact Disc, CD NS501
Track #7 is the original song "Richard Brautigan," written and performed by Frenay. The song deals with Brautigan's death.
Rereleased by Tangible Music, Merrick, NY, 1995 with one additional track
The Groove Machine Destroy the Presence of this World
This album is, apparently, the band's first release. This version of "Richard Brautigan" is from an earlier, live performance (probably recorded on Christmas Day 1991) released in the compilation Fragmenta IV (1992) given away with the fanzine B23.
Tompaulin The Town and The City
Blackburn, Lancashire, England
Ugly Man, 2001
Compact Disc and Record album, Man 3
This album features a song titled "Richard Brautigan" (Side 1, Track 2), the lyrics of which are drawn partially from titles of Brautigan's works. The seven-member band is based in Blackburn and London.
Listen to "Richard Brautigan" by Tompaulin (Used by permission):
Feedback from Amos Memon
Tompaulin formed in a bedroom in Blackburn (the same Blackburn that's mentioned in The Beatles "A Day In The Life" in the line, "4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire"). A small geographic detail, but important nonetheless.
Before I joined Tompaulin, my friends (and later bandmates) Simon, Jamie and Ciaron had collected every edition of Brautigan's work they could find. Their bookshelves sighed under the weight of his words in 1999 and still do today.
I still see my bandmates from Tompaulin, but we split in 2005. We're all in other bands now, still spread between the north (Blackburn) and south (London) of England like we always were.
Anyway, I thought I'd grant you permission to add the song "Richard Brautigan" to your website as a mp3 download.
Amos Memon. Email to John F. Barber, 24 September 2008.
San Francisco, California
Gene Pool Records, 1987
Record album, 33 1/3 rpm, DO 26
Rock songs like "Office Girl," "Visions of Susan," "Drunk on You," "Bad Sleep," and more written and performed by Orton, a San Francisco independent musician. Album cover concept inspired by the front cover of Brautigan's novel Trout Fishing in America, published in 1967.
Includes the song "So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away" about which Andy Morten, the band's drummer says,
Feedback from Andy Morton
The song "So The Wind . . ." was included on our second album in 2000. We're all huge Brautigan fans and our bass player Louis just took the title for this song. My song "Karma Repair Kit" doesn't exist on tape yet although we may record it for our next album. [Brautigan's] titles are so evocative and poetic that I'm sure we could do an entire album of songs "borrowed" from him.
Andy Morten. Email to John F. Barber, 2 August 2004.
The album cover features a photograph of Brautigan. The 3-piece band is based in England.
Three compositions written for various numbers of voices reciting various Brautigan poems, each part of a larger work toward an operatic treatment of Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar. "Trout Duet," its title a play on Schubert's "Trout Quintet" and a reference to the duet between right and left hands as it occurs in the music, was written for a harpsichord. It was included on the "Brautigan Basement Tapes '99" CD ("The Lake Josephus Days"; 2:41; Track 37) produced by many members of The Brautigan List email discussion group and featured Cronin's son, Tim, reading a passage from Brautigan's novel Trout Fishing in America, published in 1967.
Listen to "Trout Duet" by Allan J. Cronin (Used by permission):
I enjoyed coming across your excellent website with its coverage of works inspired by Richard Brautigan—and it was especially nice to see my theater-piece "Trout Fishing in America" mentioned. Thanks for including it. . . . Always nice to make contact with fellow Brautigan lovers!
Mason Bates. Email to John F. Barber, 6 February 2004.
Originally filmed in Super-8. First shown at Frith Street Gallery, London, and then as part of Ireland's entry in the 1997 Venice Biennale. The original work consisted of five separate sections, the first four displayed on monitors, the fifth on a large screen. All five sections were scattered througout the gallery.
The second section features a young man sitting in a crowded train-carriage reading a book. A voice-over narrates what he reads: Brautigan's novel In Watermelon Sugar. He reads the portion of the novel (pages 36-37) where the narrator describes how tigers killed and ate his parents and then offered to tell him a story.
Irvine alluded to Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar in an earlier (1995) multi-screen installation, "Margaret Again," the title of which was taken from a chapter heading in the novel.
Leith, Caoimhin Mac Giolla. "Jaki Irvine: Metamorphoses and Becomings." Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine July-September 2001: 128-135.
Notes the use of Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar by Irvine in her 1995 multi-screen installation performance "Margaret Again" and in her 1996 installation "A Difficult Sunset."
"Goldfish in Alaska: Adapted from the Poetry of Richard Brautigan"
Red Egg Theater
Santa Cruz, California
Performed 27-29 March 2009
Santa Cruz County Actor's Theatre
1001 Center Street
Santa Cruz, California
Adapted by Gina Hayes
A hour-long play examining Brautigan's inner life and some of his characters, either imagined or real. The experimental production includes some elements of dance.
"In Watermelon Sugar," "The Return of the Rivers," "Two Transfers," and "Pity The Morning Light That Refuses to Wait for Dawn"
Music compositions by Frank J. Oteri, American Music Center
"In Watermelon Sugar" is an opera in 31-tone equal temperament, "The Return of the Rivers" is a cycle for solo voice and keyboards, "Two Transfers" is a cycle for tenor and string quartet, "Pity The Morning Light That Refuses to Wait for Dawn" is a requiem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.
Oteri, a composer and music journalist is editor of the Amerian Music Center's monthly web magazine, NewMusicBox, a position he has held since its launch in May 1999.
Performed 25-28 February 2008
IDEATH is a place where the sun shines a different colour every day, and where people travel to the length of their dreams. Rejecting the violence and hate of the old gang at the Forgotten Works, they lead gentle lives in watermelon sugar.
Using text from the novel In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan, this dance theatre piece follows three characters as they go about their lives in this simple community.
Tricklock Theater, Albuequerque, New Mexico
Joe Pesce, Artistic Director
Feedback from Joe Pesce
The play "In Watermelon Sugar" is forthcoming, within the next 1.5 years. The book means so much to us.
Joe Pesce. Email to John F. Barber, 26 July 2003.
Sampson, Benjamin W. "Season Preview 2002-03." American Theatre 19(8) October 2002: ***43-?****.
Presents a list of theatrical productions at Theatre Communications Groups across the United States for the 2002-2003 season. This production was scheduled for 5-21 September 2002.
According to Artistic Director Joe Pesce, performances did not occur as announced because of difficulties arranging collaboration with the Keshet Dance Company, adapting Brautigan's novel In Watermelon Sugar, and coordinating the overall timing of mounting the production.
Morrow, Martin. "Theatre: Empathy in Progress: The Distribution of Empathy." Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada] 14 January 2003: 1.
Reviews "The Distribution of Empathy," written and produced by Karen Finley as a "High Performance Rodeo" delivered at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Says at one point, Finley
uses the chance sighting of a movie poster for "Barfly" in a Michigan theatre to digress into tales of youthful affairs with poets Charles Bukowski and Richard Brautigan, anecdotes which are funny but appear to be pointless. (1)
"Richard Brautigan & Dick Whitaker Memorial Trout Fishing In America Poetry Contest"
Part of the Ketchikan, Alaska, Blueberry Arts Festival which is held annually, the first weekend in August, to celebrate summer and blueberries.
2009 was the 34th year for the Blueberry Arts Festival and the 19th year for the poetry contest.
Row, D. K. "Casually Unpolished, Experimental Performance Show Offers the Unique." The Oregonian 29 July 2002: C8.
Reviews a performance of "30 Days," and experimental work by nine performers and collaborators who were given thirty days to make their work and the further caveat that their work could not exceed a ten-minute limit. Says,
The talented visual artist damail ayo [sic] collaborated with James Moore and Kollodi on a performance sketch that incorporated text by writers Jamaica Kincaid, Harold Pinter and Richard Brautigan and the performers' own ideas. This critic wasn't sure of the source of the squabbles witnessed on stage, which incorporated music from a boombox and much physical agitation from all three. But the unsettling frisson, of embarrassment and admiration for the performers, suggested that the audience was being made privy to something unusually personal. (C8)
A review of a play by Bruno Boëglin performed at The International Theater of French Language in Paris through Sept. 27, 2003. The play, based on an assembly of texts and impressions rather than factual information, seeks to "interpret" Brautigan's life and work through a form of familiarity. The short, small play featured three actors: American Joe Rezwin as Brautigan, Japanese actor Hiromi Asaï, and Chinese actor Lan Truong. They change roles and costumes, and use recorded voices to portray, through a series of digressions, a spectacle of soft madness. The result is a reflection of America as derived from an interpretation of one of its writer's.
Written by Erik Patterson; Directed by Tim Hanson
Theater of Note
1517 Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles, California
One-act play; Production ran through 15 December 2001
A Japanese woman, played by Fay Kato, searches for a corporeal replacement for the specter of novelist Richard Brautigan, played by Hugo Armstrong, who lovingly haunts her. Her marriage to sweetly earnest Montana poet Robert, played by David Conner, brings her to America, but her damaged psyche gradually and heartbreakingly unravels.
Feedback from Erik Patterson
I wrote the play "Tonseisha," which you have listed in the "Performances" section of your "Inspiration" page. I just wanted to write to you to tell you that your website is awesome. I'm a huge fan of Brautigan's work. I've been reading and re-reading him for years. I wish I had your website as a resource while I was writing "Tonseisha"—it's so comprehensive and insightful—it would have been a great help in my research. Anyway, I'm glad I know about the website now, and I'm excited to see my play listed in there. It's nice to be listed in a catalogue of all things Brautigan. Thank you and keep up the great work.
Erik Patterson. Email to John F. Barber, 7 July 2005.
Anonymous. "EdgeFare. (Edge Of The World Theatre Festival November 8-18)." Back Stage West 1 November 2001: 4-***?***(5).
Notes the offering at the Theater of Note, "Near Life: Three Death-Defying One-Acts." Says,
Theatre of NOTE offers three one-acts about life—and, more specifically, about death. The Man Who Looked for the World in a Fortune Cookie (and Found It), written and directed by Christopher DeWan, is a short glimpse at loneliness and redemption, in which "a hermit doesn't sleep at night, in love with the vacant moon. The cool of the breeze that rustles the trees rustles him, too." Near Death, written and directed by Christopher Kelley (a great actor who also wrote the giddy Monstrosity and the haunting Ransomed Soul), is billed as a "dark, comic paean to familial love and rejection." Tonseisha, written by Erik Patterson and directed by Tim Hanson, is the story of a woman's desperate attempt to find "love, happiness, and Richard Brautigan." Considering the pedigree of the first two and the good buzz on the third, this looks like a must-see.
Gittleson, Gia Lauren. "The Guide." Los Angeles Magazine 24(12) December 2001: 159-***?***.
Schreiber, Brad. "Near Life—Three Death Defying One-Acts." Back Stage West 8 November 2001: 11.
Notes the current program of three one-act plays at the Theater of Note and says "Tonseisha" was the longest, and strongest, of the evening.
Anonymous. "Screen: Film: Short Cuts." The Observer 13 August 2000: 3.
Short blurbs about the entertainment industry and its principals. Notes,
There is something heartwarmingly Quixotic about Hollywood's determination to try to film every successful book ever written: there was once a plan for Clint Eastwood to star in Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western, a novel whose main characters include a disaffected chemical cloud. (3)
A thirty minute film based on the novel So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away was produced by Swensen Productions (Paul Swensen and Ianthe Brautigan) and shown at the New York Film Festival in June of 2000 and the Los Angeles Film Festival in October of 2000. Robert "Dux" Duxbury wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation. The movie is now, allegedly undergoing further editing to shorten its running time.
A San Francisco artist, noted for his surrealistic style, Kenn Davis painted this original portrait of Brautigan in Fall 1958.
The portrait, exhibited in several San Francisco Art Galleries during the 1960s, shows a young, clean-shaven Brautigan.
Brautigan kept the portrait in his North Beach apartment and later in his Geary Street apartment. After achieving fame and notoriety with his first novels, however, he returned the portrait to Davis, saying that it was not the way he looked anymore (having grown a mustache and longer hair) and that it was not as he wanted fans and admirers to remember him, so young. Plans were in place to paint a new portrait, but it never happened.
Felver, Christopher. The Importance of Being. Santa Fe, NM: Arena Editions, 2001. 68.
A collection of photographic portraits of writers, poets, filmmakers, actors, visual artists, protesters, and others whose work pushes the limits of expression during the late 20th century.
Includes Felver's photograph of Brautigan wearing a sheepskin hat that first appeared in The Poet Exposed (see below). Brautigan is noted as "Novelist, poet."
—. Angels, Anarchists & Gods. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1996. 169.
Photographic portraits of Beat and counterculture writers including Felver's photograph of Brautigan wearing a sheepskin hat that first appeared in The Poet Exposed. Caption reads: "Richard Brautigan, San Francisco, 1982."
—. The Poet Exposed. New York: Alfred Van Der Marck Editions, 1986. 68-69.
A collection of photographic portraits of San Francisco, Boulder, Colorado, and New York poets by Felver and brief statements by the poets in their own hand.
Brautigan's portrait, taken in San Francisco, in 1982, features him wearing a sheepskin hat. (The same photograph was used in Felver's later books, The Importance of Being and Angels, Anarchists & Gods; see above.) On the opposite page is a brief statement by Brautigan.
This photograph was taken in May.
I gave the hat away in November,
so you'll never see me wearing it again.
The blond-haired figure standing in the center background is Brautigan.
During the late 1950s, Brautigan introduced Caroling to Beat poets and she bought their books at City Lights Books and listened to Brautigan and others reading their poetry at The Place. Such readings were the inspiration for this painting of Brautigan and other poets at The Place.
Feedback from Caroling Lind Geary
The main graphic features [of the painting] are the kind of puzzle piece jigsaw lines that flow through connecting everything. And the story of Brautigan towering over and dominating, but being surrounded with other inspired beings.
Caroling Lind Geary. Email to John F. Barber, 27 January 2003.
The painting was part of the poetry that seemed to surround Brautigan and his life. As Caroling says in the text accompanying her website, "To Richard Brautigan, an iPoem altar,"
Brautigan exuded poetry like a time warp; everything that happened around him seemed like poetry. All my memories of him are poetic. Like, we said like all the time. Like he liked the painting, so he picked it up and carried it to The Place. He hung it on the wall so it was in back of him when he read poems at The Place.
Brautigan, says Geary, had a constant energy about him.
Oil on unprimed canvas
black and white
12" x 12" (approximate)
Part of a series entitled "Album Sized Authors," this painting and others in the series were painted by Jones as a personal project. Other portraits include Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, James Baldwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Stephen King, and William S. Burroughs. Each portrait is painted on a record-album sized piece of unprimed canvas. Jones, an artist based in Las Vegas, Nevada, hopes to display these portraits, along with passages from each author, in local libraries.
Handcarved lineolum block print
Limited editon of 20 prints, plus original
4" x 6"
Printed on Chinese rice paper
Each print signed, numbered, and named by the artist
McGraw, DeLoss. "Innocence: In Response to the Works of Joseph Cornell, Lewis Carroll, and Richard Brautigan." 8 September - 13 October 2007. ACA Galleries. New York, New York.
In the essay for catalog accompaning this exhibition ("Sophisticated Innocence: DeLoss McGraw Reveals Essential Affinities between Joseph Cornell, Lewis Carroll, Richard Brautigan and Himself") Robert L. Pincus (art critic for The San Diego Union-Tribune) notes that McGraw's art "evokes a kind of enchanted world permeated with signs of innocence, even as it also pictures the forces that threaten the fragility of such a state of being." Says the works in this exhibition
form a kind of extended meditation of this subject. [Brautigan] fits the theme precisely . . . since his writing is abundant with stories of childhood; improbable sights; and a vision of life and art that insists on retaining some of the wonder that children exhibit. [Brautigan,] whose own childhood was plagued by poverty as well as parental neglect and whose life ended in suicide . . . seems like an improbable champion of innocence, as McGraw clearly implies. But these paintings about him honor that improbability, through their ingenious and inspired dramatic prism. (1, 7)
I decided to call it "Machine of Loving Grace" after the poem of course. It occurred to me that I am searching for a way to integrate the idea of compassion into the images of machines. Imagine a machine of loving grace. It would have a spirit, be compassionate. Maybe a buddhist machine. I was wondering if a robot engineer with a Shinto background would create a different kind of robot than a robot engineer who was purely utilitarian. I think I hear too much about the dehumanizing effects of mechanized society.
Kelly Newcomer. Email to John F. Barber, 28 February 2004.
It is a painting inspired by Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace." I think of Brautigan walking through a cybernetic forest, fleshless and connected with Nature.
I first discovered Brautigan when I was 19 (I'm now 34). I found THE PILL [Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster] in the library of my friend's mother. Brautigan was so contagious and influential that my poetry writing was forever more shaped in a Brautiganian fashion.
Eric Sherman. Email to John F. Barber, 24 May 2004.
Limited edition of 20 copies
Image area 2" x 2.5"
Paper size is 6" x 7.5"
Signed in pencil: "Brautigan 1/20 Snyder 2003"
Printed BFK Rives, a bright white archival printmaking paper. This image was first cut in a relatively soft piece of linoleum. It was then inked and printed, with the black areas of the print being the uncut portions of the linoleum.
Snyder, a professional artist living in Connecticut, created this print of Brautigan in 2003 as part of his book Portraits, a collection of linocut images of writers and artists.
Weber, Erik.Richard Brautigan 1962-1978. San Francisco: Erik Weber Graphics, 1992.
37 pages; Unpublished
A "catalog" of photographs by Weber of Brautigan with commentary by Abbott
Photographs by Erik Weber
Text by Keith Abbott
Weber met Richard Brautigan in 1962 and took many photographs of him, including the one used on the front cover of Trout Fishing in America.
Wright's writing and paintings have been published in several print and online journals and anthologies like Mudville Diaries, X-Ray, Mystery Island Press, Bottle of Smoke, and Feel Free Press. His novels include The Whorehouse (1977), Flight to Freedom (1986), and The Music Sluts (2005). His paintings are colorful and whimsical, exploring issues of the human heart and culture. Of his artwork, Wright claims, "I am more primitive than the primitives."
The Brautigan Library was founded by Todd Lockwood, in Burlington, Vermont, in April 1990. Modeled after the library Brautigan portrayed in The Abortion, The Brautigan Library was designed as a repository for unpublished books.
Lockwood provides this account of how The Brautigan Library was started.
The Brautigan Library was founded in Burlington, Vermont in 1990 by Todd Lockwood and a group of visionaries from Burlington's arts community. The idea for this library was inspired by a fictional library described by Richard Brautigan in his 1971 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. What made Brautigan's fictional library unusual was the fact that only unpublished books were allowed on its shelves.
From 1990 through 1995 the Brautigan Library lived in a small building on lower College Street. The library accepted unpublished manuscripts from all over North America, and from other parts of the world as well. People from all walks of life sent their novels, poetry and stories to the Brautigan. While some hoped a publisher might see their work at the library, most were happy simply to have a public shelf for the one copy of their work.
True to this spirit, the Brautigan never judged the works it received. Any manuscript that met the physical requirements was accepted. This ideology sometimes put the library at odds with the traditional literary and publishing world. But to unpublished writers, it made perfect sense.
The Brautigan Library supported itself with donations from supporters across America and with fees paid by writers to have their work catalogued and bound. Everyone who worked for the Brautigan worked for free, donating their time and services to the library. Nearly 100 volunteers in the Burlington area served as librarians or board members.
By 1995, time had taken its toll on the Brautigan. Increased expenses and career changes by some key volunteers made it more difficult to keep the library open. In The Abortion, Brautigan's fictional library was secretly supported by a millionaire admirer, but in reality no such person ever materialized.
In late 1995, the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington agreed to take over the Brautigan's collection of 325 books, designating a special area for this purpose. The Fletcher's exhibit serves as testament to the power of an idea and the spirit of volunteerism in Burlington.
While the Fletcher will not be accepting new additions to the Brautigan collection, the Brautigan Library is planning to have a presence on the internet where readers and writers can exchange ideas and inspiration.
Todd Lockwood. Email to John F. Barber, 27 February 2004.
The Brautigan Library closed in late 1995. The Fletcher Free Library, also in Burlington, agreed to take over and display the 325 books in the collection, along with Brautigan's glasses and typewriter. This arrangement lasted until 2005 when The Fletcher Free Library, in their News from the Fletcher Free Library announced "Brautigan Library Going Home to San Francisco."
The Brautigan Library, an archive of literature written by unpublished authors, was established in the early 1990s on lower College Street as a brainchild of local entrepreneur Todd Lockwood. It is based on a "library" described in Richard Brautigan's The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. Since 1996 the entire Brautigan collection (totaling a few hundred thin volumes) has been housed on the 2nd floor of the Fletcher Free.
Lockwood has negotiated with the San Francisco Public Library to arrange a permanent home for the Brautigan Library at the Presidio Branch of the SFPL, the exact location where Brautigan placed his fictional 24-hour-a-day library in The Abortion. The books have been carefully packed and prepared for their trip west, and the Fletcher Free Library is honored to have been part of the process of getting these books placed safely in their proper home.
The Brautigan Library issued a newsletter titled The 23 that ran seventeen issues from December 1990 (Vol. 1, No. 1) to 1995 (Vol. 5, No. 1-2). "The 23" is the title of a chapter in Brautigan's The Abortion and describes the unpublished works of twenty-three unknown American writers.
In the first issue of The 23 Todd Lockwood, founder, provided this history of the Brautigan Library
The Brautigan Library got started, in spirit, about twenty years ago when Richard Brautigan wrote his fourth novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. Among other things, this book helped redefine romance for the sixties counterculture—breaking away from simplistic gender roles, and offering up the possibility of relationships founded on mutual respect and communication, not just passion alone. It was a book that tended to have a profound effect on those who read it,vevidenced by the "this book will change your life" inscriptions one often finds scrawled in old copies of the novel.
And, of course, Brautigan's book described a library—a weird little library where unknown, unpublished writing could find a home. As Brautigan put it, "This library came into being because of an overwhelming need and desire for such a place. There just simply had to be a library like this." When I first read those words in the mid-seventies, I couldn't have agreed more. Such a library seemed like a splendid idea. It seemed perfectly plausible to me that someone, somewhere would one day open such a library, using Brautigan's story as a model.
Well, life nearly began imitating art shortly after the novel was released: Brautigan had given his readers an actual library street address in The Abortion, right down to the zip code. As it turned out,
the address was indeed the address of a library—the Presidio Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. They were subsequently flooded with inquiries from all across America, wondering if they indeed accepted unpublished manuscripts. Sadly, the answer was "no."
Years ticked by as I pursued a career in photo-portraiture, and in 1980 started a music recording studio in Vermont. The Abortion continued to own a space on my bookshelf, and it got a rereading every year or so. With every reading, I would be reminded of the library idea. By the mid-eighties, I really began thinking of the library as "something I was going to do." It was simply a matter of when.
Brautigan's suicide in 1984 was a terrific blow to thousands of readers whose ideals survived the cynical seventies with the help of Brautigan's insights and humor. Coming to grips with the reality of his troubled life—a life perceived as fun-loving and well- founded—has not been easy. His death made the library idea seem a bit trivial, so it stayed on the back burner for another five years.
In August 1989, I happened to go to the film Field of Dreams with my wife. I had no idea what the movie was about, but before long it became clear that, for me, the movie was about building the Brautigan Library. Somehow, I knew the time had come to get things rolling. The very next day I called Brautigan's literary agent, and off we went.
The Brautigan Library idea has not been greeted with universal praise. A number of published authors have declined invitations to be advisory trustees to the library. In fact, one poet had her lawyer send us a cease and desist letter, to insure that her name wouldn't be associated with the library. The fact is, even when Brautigan was at the peak of his career, his own work was not held in high esteem by the literary community. He was an outsider. Academics thought his writing was trivial, yet his popularity was undeniable. He was writing for readers—not for writers.
Perhaps it was Brautigan's unpretentious approach to writing that made him such an inspiration to new writers. Probably no other American author since the sixties has inspired so many people to write down their story for the first time. Brautigan shows us that ideas need not be wrapped in layers of grammar and vocabulary to be relevant; that vision is the seed that makes for a moving piece of writing.
A few months ago, we received a two-page manuscript from a woman who drives a school bus. It was filled with spelling errors and incomplete sentences. While trying to decide whether or not to send it back for corrections, I finally just read it, as it was written. The short story tells of sunlight beaming through a snowstorm "like a diamond patch." So beautiful was this moment that she pulled the school bus off the side of the road so her passengers could enjoy it. I learned something in reading her story: Ideas with vision will usually survive a less-than-perfect presentation. But the most elaborate presentation in the world is no substitute for vision. In an era when technique is the most discernible asset one finds in most art and literature, this is indeed a concept worth pondering.
We already have all kinds of writing in the Brautigan Library, but the vast majority is writing which shares a personal vision. Many of our books are written in first person, which is, to me, a signal that we are already building an archive that will distinguish us from other libraries; that will be of use to historians; that will offer a unique, grass-roots view of America.
According to Todd Lockwood, founder, these are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Brautigan Library
The library was inspired by Richard Brautigan's 1970 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966. In the story, Brautigan is the librarian in a quirky little library in San Francisco that only accepts unpublished writing.
We use Mayonnaise jars because our books are cataloged using our own Mayonnaise System. Unlike the Dewey Decimal System, we mix fiction and nonfiction together. And, oh yes, Mayonnaise was the last word in Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing In America.
The books in our collection were not judged in any way before being put on the shelf. Our only criteria was that the books had not been published before being sent to us.
While some of the writers in the Brautigan collection have career aspirations, most are ordinary people who just wanted to share a part of their life with us. The Brautigan was not intended to bring writers any closer to being published.
If a book got published after we received it, its was allowed to remain in the collection.
Sorry, the Fletcher Free Library is not accepting any more books into the Brautigan collection. The present collection serves as a memorial to the first five years of the Brautigan Library.
The following information about The Brautigan Library was provided in a brochure mailed to writers:
What is the Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library is a unique library for unpublished writing. It is a different kind of library, a library where writers can have their unpublished works put on public display for others to read.
What kinds of books would one find in such a library?
The Brautigan Library accepts writing of all sorts: biographies, stories, poetry, whether fiction or nonfiction, technical or literary. People send books they have written about subjects that interest them, about their lives and experiences, books that share their vision.
How are the books judged before they are accepted into the library?
The Brautigan Library has an open-door policy regarding submissions. We don't judge the works we receive. Each book is treated with equal importance and given an equal opportunity to be read by the public. Our only requirement is that a work has not been previously published before being registered at the library. It is up to the writer to determine if his or her work is worthy of a home in the Brautigan Library.
Is a book in the Brautigan Library more likely to become published?
While it's possible that books in our collection might be noticed by people in the publishing business, it is not our primary goal to see that this happens. The Brautigan Library offers its writers a different kind of benefit, a benefit that can't be measured in dollars or copies sold.
If the Brautigan Library is not interested in publishing, then why would writers want to be associated with it?
People write for many reasons: to achieve personal growth, to move ahead, or simply to tell their story. Many thousands of people who write never get around to submitting their work to publishers for consideration. For many, the process of writing is its own reward. The Brautigan Library provides a home for ideas outside the publishing mainstream, and for its writers provides a sense of completion and a conduit for public expression.
With all the new books already crowding our bookstores and libraries, does it make sense to bring so many untested works to the public?
At the Brautigan Library we are concerned not only with the many books that never get read, but also with the books that never get written. Many people are discouraged from writing because of the competitive aspects of publishing, or because their work doesn't fit into a traditional category. Today, many writers feel their ideas are held hostage by an industry that relies on commercial success as a measure of a book's value. The Brautigan Library gives writers an opportunity to push the limits of their creativity, to offer radical points of view, to tell the tales that aren't being told in America's book shops and libraries. As one visitor aptly put it, "This library is not about being published, or even about literature. It's about people telling their story."
What sort of readership does the Brautigan Library have?
Unlike most libraries, whose readership is from the library's local area, the Brautigan Library attracts readers from all over the country. It is because our library offers such a unique view of our world that people come to visit us. We offer a "grassroots" perspective not found in bookstores and libraries. Our collection offers perhaps the most candid view of American life anywhere—unexpurgated and unaffected by marketing considerations. Coming to the Brautigan Library is an adventure: reading through one-of-a-kind manuscripts, seeing the world from a different literary perspective, and discovering new ideas.
What format must a work be in to be registered at the Brautigan Library?
We encourage writers to send us their work in a standard manuscript format described in the application; however, it is not required. Works submitted in the standard manuscript format will be hard-cover bound by the library, and will thus be more likely to survive storage into the next century. Odd sizes of work will be accepted, but no library submission can exceed a maximum page size of 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Manuscripts may contain some photographs or illustrations, but the majority of your work should be literary. Collections of cartoons are considered literary and are welcome. More information about format is found in the writer application form.
Will my work be reviewed by the library staff?
Because of our open-door policy toward the writing we receive, we make a point of not passing judgment on any works. All writing, regardless of content, is given an equal chance to reach our readership.
Will I retain ownership of the copyright on my work?
Yes, you will continue to own the rights to your work. Should a publisher become interested in it, you will be free to deal with a publisher as you wish. For its part, the library asks you (in the application) to allow publication of excerpts from your work in the library's own publications, newspaper columns, radio programs or other outlets in which the library communicates with the public. This helps promote the library and gives exposure to many of its writers. Should a publisher decide to publish your work after it is registered at the Brautigan Library, your work will remain in the library's collection.
If an excerpt of my work is used in a library publication, will I get paid for it?
No. As a nonprofit organization, the Brautigan Library does not have the resources to pay its writers. However, many writers may benefit from the exposure the library has given their work.
How will someone be able to find my work in the Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library, unlike other libraries which use the Dewey Decimal System, categorizes its books according to the Mayonnaise System. The Mayonnaise System utilizes an array of subject headings which more closely reflect the kinds of works the Brautigan Library receives. The Mayonnaise System includes such headings as Family, Natural World, War and Peace, and Meaning of Life. A visitor to the library will be able to locate a specific work by: its date, title, author, or catalog number. To facilitate browsing, we print a special title page for each book which includes the book's title, author, and a brief synopsis provided by the author. Also, the Brautigan Library does not differentiate fiction from nonfiction. This gives maximum creative latitude to writers and makes visiting the library a unique experience. Future developments will include an electronic catalog system that will assist visitors in finding works on a specific subject or idea.
Is the Brautigan Library a "lending library?"
No. One of the things that makes the Brautigan Library special is that our shelves are filled with very rare volumes. In fact, it can probably be assumed that there is only one copy of most of our books in a public place anywhere! With so many valuable books to keep track of, we decided it was better to have people read them at the library. We've created a warm atmosphere especially for that purpose.
What happens when the library becomes completely filled?
Though we anticipate that such an event is many years away, one day we will begin moving books out of the main library building and into a long-term storage facility to make room for new works. It is anticipated that our storage facility will some day hold the most extensive collection of American literature anywhere, a literary time capsule that will be of interest to future generations and historians.
How young can a Brautigan Library writer be?
The Brautigan Library welcomes manuscripts from writers of all ages. Any piece of intelligible writing is welcome. The library is interested in receiving works by young people that other young people will relate to. Most books for teenagers today are actually written by adults. The library is also interested in works written by aged people whose wisdom and experience could benefit new generations.
Is there a fee for registering a book with the library?
Yes. A registration fee of $50 ($75 for books over 300 pages) is paid by the writer when a work is submitted. This money is used to catalog and hard-cover bind submissions and also to help pay the operating expenses of the library. Unlike a typical public library, we don't receive support in the way of city or state taxes. The registration fee is important for our survival.
What if I can't afford to pay the registration fee?
Anyone who can't afford to pay the registration fee should send a letter requesting assistance to: Support a Writer Program, The Brautigan Library Foundation, P. O. Box 521, Burlington, Vermont 05402. Please give a brief description of your work, and tell us why you feel your work belongs in the Brautigan Library. Our Board of Trustees will consider you for library sponsorship. If you request assistance, please do not send your work until instructed to do so. Under the Support a Writer program you are limited to one submission per year, and a maximum manuscript length of 300 pages.
Is there a limit to the number of works a writer can send to the Brautigan Library?
No, but we do have some rules on size. Works submitted in standard manuscript format may be any length, however, those over 300 pages will be split into separate volumes, at an extra charge to the writer. Works submitted in smaller formats, such as spiral notebooks, may not be longer than 100 pages.
Does the Brautigan Library accept works in foreign languages?
At the present time we only accept works written in English. We do, however, welcome English-language works from other countries.
Who runs the Brautigan Library?
The Brautigan Library Foundation, Inc. is a Vermont nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to encourage personal achievement through writing, foster the sharing of ideas, and provide a home for unpublished American literature. The library is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of prominent literary and media professionals from the State of Vermont. Our Advisory Board includes writers, poets and other creative people from across America.
Can I contribute money to help the library?
Contributions to the Brautigan Library Foundation will help us realize our dream of establishing the Brautigan Library as a national cultural institution. We believe the Brautigan Library will fill a significant void in American literature, a void created by the ever-narrowing window of commercial acceptability in today's literary market. Our approach will allow a much wider spectrum of voices to be heard, even if only in a small way. Your generosity will benefit many writers who haven't yet been given the chance to tell their story. You can become a Supporting Member of the Brautigan Library with a donation of $25 or more. All Supporting Members will receive our quarterly newsletter, The 23. For every donation of at least $50, our Board of Trustees will sponsor one new work at the library through our Support a Writer program. Please send your contribution to the post office box address below.
Where did the idea for the library come from?
The Brautigan Library was inspired by a fictional library described by the late American author Richard Brautigan (1935-1984). A hero of sixties and seventies counterculture, Richard Brautigan wakened a new generation of literature with his humorous, insightful works. His unconventional style cut through decades of literary tradition to catch the imagination of people everywhere. In his 1970 novel, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, Brautigan described an unusual library where unpublished works written by ordinary citizens could find a home on the shelf. To bring such a library to life is both a unique tribute to Richard Brautigan and a valuable addition to our cultural identity.
The Brautigan Library Foundation, Inc.
Board of Trustees:
Ken Caffrey, Jr.
Public Relations Consultant
Stephen P. Kiernan
Attorney, Registered Agent
W. P. Kinsella
Fred G. Sullivan
Co-founder, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Film Director, "Saturday Night Live"
Director, Burlington City Arts
Writer/Radio Fiction Personality
Brautigan Estate Advisor:
Ianthe Brautigan Swensen
Richard Brautigan's daughter
Anonymous. "Blame It On Brautigan." Harper's Sept. 1990: 42-45.
Examples of books submitted to the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont.
The library, which describes itself as a home for "folk literature," charges a twenty-five dollar fee for binding and cataloging any manuscript; seventy volumes have been cataloged since the library opened last April .
—. "A Library For People With Tales To Tell." New York Times 8 May 1990, Sec. A: 12.
Profiles the Brautigan Library, saying it was created in memory of Brautigan and is reserved exclusively for unpublished manuscripts open to public readership.
—. "Library Features Books That Have Yet To Be Written." CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation]. Arts Section.
This article at the CBC website
Chapman, Christine. "A Library for World's Nobodies." International Herald Tribune 25 September 1992: **?**.
Profiles The Brautigan Library calling it "the last resort—and sometimes the first—for writers who want to see their unpublished manuscripts bound, shelved, and read by people who travel long distances to find them."
READ this article.
Garner, Dwight. "Brautigan Would Have Loved This." San Francisco Examiner 17 July 1990: B3.
Discusses the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont, which serves as a repository for unpublished manuscripts submitted by authors and open to public readership. Says Brautigan conceived of "such a nonjudgmental, very public library in his 1970 novel The Abortion."
—. "The Library That Time Forgot." Village Voice 35(24) 12 June 1990: 34.
Says the library is a tribute to Brautigan and that it operates exclusively to store unpublished texts, written by ordinary citizens.
Green, Lee. "Making Room for Lost Causes." American Way 1 May 1996: 78, 80, 82, 84.
A profile of The Brautigan Library, started in the spring of 1990 by Todd Lockwood. Modeled after the library Brautigan featured in his novel The Abortion, The Brautigan Library accepted unpublished manuscripts from writers around the world until 1995. Included are short descriptions of several of the manuscripts submitted.
American Way is the in-flight magazine published by American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas.
Hartston, William. "Home For Unpublished Books: William Hartston Visits the Brautigan an Unusual Library in Burlington, Vermont." The Independent ***?***.
READ this article.
Ingrassia, Lawrence. "A Fictional Library Becomes A Real Place With Unreal Fiction." Wall Street Journal 28 May 1991, Sec. A: 1.
Profiles the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont.
READ this article.
Jedeikin, Jenny and Robert Love. "Brautigan Library." Rolling Stone 7 February 1991: 13.
The full text of this review reads:
For all aspiring writers growing tired of the endless stream of rejection letters: You can finally see your words of wisdom on a library shelf. The Brautigan Library, in Burlington, Vermont—modeled after a library Richard Brautigan described in his 1971 cult novel The Abortion—is a nonprofit business that accepts manuscripts from anyone for a twenty-five-dollar fee; the only catch is that the work must be unpublished. "The Abortion has been a favorite book of mine for years," says founder Todd Lockwood. "The idea is that anyone who pours their heart and soul into a novel or work of poetry can then immediately put it in a public collection for others to read." And in just seven months the library, which is run by a volunteer staff of thirty Brautigan devotees, has amassed 150 books. Visitors can peruse a wide range of material—from the tale of a man who lived on his Harley-Davidson for five years to a former mechanical engineer's life philosophy.
"What we're creating here is a long-term historical time capsule," says Lockwood, "that could become a great source for people who want to know what is going on at the grass-roots level."
O'Kelly, Kevin. "Unusual Library May Get New Chapter." The Boston Globe 27 September 2004: ***?***.
READ this article.
Ratner, Elaine. "The Effect of Brautigan." California Living 14 May 1972: 26-27.
Descibes how people, after reading Brautigan's The Abortion write, visit, or bring there books to the Presidio Branch of the San Francisco Public Library.
READ the full text of this article.
Salm, Arthur. "Public Eye." San Diego Union-Tribune 30 January 1993 Lifestyle Section: F2.
READ this article.
Sikorski, Ray. "Remembered in Montana." The 23 3(3) June 1993: 1.
Publication of The Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont. Relates what Brautigan friends Tom McGuane, William R. Hjortsberg, Greg Keeler, and Tim Cahill felt his reaction would have been to a library modeled after the one he wrote about in The Abortion.
Stecklow, Steve. "A Home for Books Not Published: Local Vt. Library." The Philadelphia Inquirer 29 April 1990: AO2.
READ the full text of this article.
van Bakel, Rogier. "Paperback Proving Grounds." Wired 3.09 September 1995: 56, 58.
Brief mention of The Brautigan Library as an introduction to information about web-based publishers and virtual libraries. Says
[T]he nonprofit library wants to raise awareness of "the grass-roots level of our culture," and steer the "street-level view away from the ivory tower." (van Bakel 56)
van Bakel's article at the Wired magazine website
West, Jessamyn. "A Visit to the Brautigan Library." jessamyn.com http://www.jessamyn.com/journal/june00b.html
An online account of a visit to The Brautigan Library written by web designer and online researcher, Jessamyn West. Contained within the "Journal" portion of her website.
Maintained under the auspices of AHA!Poetry, solicits and displays unpublished books of poetry online. Books are cataloged and described. Authors retain all rights to their work and may seek other forms of publication.
A collection of possible books founded by British librarians Caroline Jupp and Sam Brown in 2002. The books began as interviews recorded with people about a book they dreamed of writing or making. The interviews were collected through random encounters in shopping centers, parks, and city streets, and by invitations to visit literature festivals, public libraries, and community centers. Limited edition mini-books were published from transcripts of the interviews, and made available to readers at exhibitions and special events. Touring book-boxes also displayed the books at everyday venues such as cafés, pubs, libraries and launderettes.
Youngs, Ian. "The Art of Not Writing Books." BBC News Online UK Edition. 2 August 2004.
Two librarians, Sam Brown and Caroline Jupp, traveled around Britian collecting ideas for books not written, and that probably will never be written. They and their art project, called the Library of Unwritten Books, traveled around the UK collecting more than 400 stories in the past two years, with a goal of 1,000, using mobile audio recording equipment. These narratives were then turned into individual mini-books, each only a few pages in length focusing on the barest bones of an idea and distributed to libraries, community centres, pubs, and doctors' waiting rooms. The project was inspired by Brautigan's The Abortion and was the featured display at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth through 28 August 2004.
Bellamy, Gail. "Mountain Man." Restaurant Hospitality 77(5) May 1993: 160, 162, 164, 166.
A profile of a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, "La Montagne," where diners can borrow books from the "Richard Brautigan Lending Library" during meals.
Showalter, Craig V. Collecting Richard Brautigan: A Bibliocatalog. Pine Island, MN: Kumquat Pressworks, 2001.
A catalog of Showalter's collection of first editions, ephemeral publications, posters, handbills, and other items related to Brautigan and his work. A useful companion for those wishing to collect materials by or about Brautigan.
Gregor, David. "Collecting Richard Brautigan." Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine March 1996: 34-43.
Brautigan is the featured author in this issue. "Collecting Richard Brautigan is collecting an American original, a creative spirit of one of the most significant historical periods in our recent literary past."
This magazine, based in Tucson, Arizona, began publication in January 1991 as Firsts: Collecting Modern First Editions. It was aimed at collectors of modern first editions of books. In 1995 the focus expanded and its title changed to Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine."
A website devoted to images of Nelson's collection of Brautigan books. Each book or pamphlet noted in the collection includes photographs of the cover(s), the dust jacket, and in some cases the book's spine and title page.
Richard Brautigan is present all around the Web. Many of his individual poems, stories, even sections of his novels are available at various individual websites, along with biographies and literary analysis. Social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube offer many homages to Brautigan, and he is referenced daily on multiple blogs, personal journals posted on web pages for anyone to read. As with all web-based publications lacking peer-review, the content may be erroneous and overly subjective. Check all statements of fact with credible sources.
On the other hand, there are several web presences that speak directly to the inspiration their authors derive from Brautigan. Some of the more substantial are detailed below.
Anonymous. "Brautigan's Brick." Hogblog 15 May 2009.
Brautigan borrowed the gun with which he killed himself from Jimmy Sakata, the owner of Cho Cho's restaurant in San Francisco's North Beach. This blog entry recalls a childhood memory of the restaurant, and tells a story of how Brautigan borrowed the gun.
The full text of this blog entry reads
When I was a little kid my dad used to bring me to this Japanese restaurant in north beach San Francisco called Cho Cho's. Whenever I went there the owner Jimmy Sakata (Jimmy Cho Cho to me) would make me fancy kids drinks and show me what he had in the paper bags behind his bar. Guns! Big guns, which was way cool to me. He would let me hold them although I bet they were always loaded. Back then Cho Cho's was a hang out for writers and different heads of the time. Everyone from Nobel prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata to Clint Eastwood. One of the regulars was Richard Brautigan, also a gun aficionato.
One day in 1984 Brautigan was hanging out and asked Jimmy if he could borrow a gun for the night. Jimmy said sure and lent him a Smith & Wesson 44. The next day Brautigan returned without the gun and said he needed it for one more night, but in lieu of the gun he would lend Jimmy a brick. This was not that strange considering the eccentric nature of his clientele so Jimmy took the brick and put it on the bookshelf behind the bar.
That night Richard Brautigan killed himself with Jimmy's gun. The gun, not being registered, never made its way back to Jimmy. The brick, on the other hand, stayed on the bookshelf behind the bar. One day years later I took my girlfriend to visit Jimmy and the brick at Cho Cho's. They said Jimmy had retired and sold the restaurant. When I asked if there was a brick behind the bar (hoping they would give it to me!) they smiled and said Jimmy took the brick with him. I don't know if Jimmy is still alive but I bet that Brautigan's brick is out there somewhere.
Brooks, Jeff. "The Ascension of Trout Fishing in America Shorty."
Brooks, a writer living in Seattle, Washington, published several short "fictions" in his personal webpages. One is titled "The Ascension of Trout Fishing in America Shorty," (members.aol.com/mtic/shorts/TFIAS.html).
Readers and writers like Darran Anderson, D. B. Cox, Greg Keeler, Lily Pond, Peter Wild, and others celebrated Brautigan's January 2007 birthday at "Dogmatika" blog, (dogmatika.com/dm/blogs.php?id=C0_36_1).
A profile of Brautigan that appeared in the online writer's resource, Empire:Zine. Provides good basic biographical and bibliographical information, and many samples of Brautigan's work. Also features several photographs of Brautigan by Erik Weber.
Martin III, Edward. "In Watermelon Sugar." Edward Martin III: Book Reviews
Part of a website titled "Welcome to the Petting Zoo!" which represents the interests and activities of a group of people living communally in the Pacific Northwest. Martin lists himself as a "freelance writer/creator."
In this place where the sun shines a different color every day, and everything is made from watermelons, the only thing we know for sure is that each person is alive and has a soul and for some, this soul is restless and roaming. It could be about the death of innocence, but in this case, the innocence is so strong that it prevails over death in the end. Now that ought to scare your parents.
Reportedly, two stores are named In Watermelon Sugar, one in Baltimore, Maryland, and the other in Traverse City, Michigan.
Machines of Loving Grace
An industrial/post-punk band from Tucson, Arizona, first formed in 1989. The original band members included Scott Benzel (vocals), Stuart Kupers (guitar and bass), Mike Fisher (keyboards), and Brad Kemp (drums). Their released albums included Machines of Loving Grace (1991), Concentration (1993), and Gilt (1995). A non-album single, "Golgotha Tenement Blues" (1994) was featured on the soundtrack to the movie The Crow. In 2005, Benzel reformed the band under a new name, "The Machines." The name of the orignal group came from Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace."
Richard Brautigan Alley
Pettit, Bruce. "Literary Street Names Approved." The San Francisco Chronicle **date?**: A1, A2.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, publisher, and co-owner of City Lights Books proposed renaming portions of thirteen San Francisco Streets to names of well-known authors. Residents, however, opposed renaming Nobles Alley (between Grant and its eastern terminus) to Richard Brautigan Alley.
Carroll, Jon. "Let's Dip Into The Old Mailbag." The San Francisco Chronicle 29 June 1990, Daily Datebook Section: E20.
Lazlo Coakley of San Francisco wrote to inform me that Nobles Alley, mentioned in the treasure hunt columns, is called Richard Brautigan Alley now, a situation he regrets. Father Nobles looked after the health, welfare and spiritual needs of North Beach residents for many years. He also founded Santa Clara University.
A commune, a school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Carpinteria, California, teenager, and a music duet all named themselves "Trout Fishing in America."
Peter Eastman, Jr., upon graduation from high school, changed his name to Trout Fishing in America.
Articles about Peter Eastman becoming Trout Fishing in America
Anonymous. "Goodby Peter, Hello Trout." ***?***.
The full text of this article reads:
A teen-ager casting about for a new name has reeled in a golden one: Trout Fishing in America.
Peter Eastman, Jr., 17, wanted to do something different for his upcoming graduation at Carpinteria High School, a Santa Barbara County beach town 70 miles northwest fo Los Angeles.
Last week, he went to Superior Court to legally change his name to Trout Fishing in America, a name inspired by Richard Brautigan's 1967 counterculture classic, "Trout Fishing in America."
"I really liked the book," Trout said.
Trout wanted the unusual name on his diploma for his June graduation, but high school officials balked. They said he'd have to change his name legally first.
"I don't question his reasons," said Vice Principal Lou Panizzon. "He is a real individual and a very independent kid. . . . I find what he is doing kind of amusing."
Trout said of the decision to disgard the family name: "It's a breaking away. It is breaking away from tradition. I am just saying I am not this little kid anymore. I want to be my own person."
As a show of support, his father paid the $182 name-change filing fee as a graduation present.
—. "It's A Book, A Band, It's A . . . Teen-Ager." ***?***.
The full text of this article reads:
A Carpinteria, Calif., teen-ager casting about for a new name has reeled in a golden one: Trout Fishing in America. The 17-year old wanted to do something different for his upcoming high school graduation. So he went to court last week to legally change his name from Peter Eastman, Jr. The teen said he decided to name himself after Richard Brautigan's 1967 counterculture classic to break away from tradition. "I am just saying I am not this little kid anymore. I want to be my own person."
Clark, Steve. "What Would the Boy Named Sue Think?" Richmond Times-Dispatch 28 April 1994: B1.
Profiles Eastman and his name change.
READ the full text of this article.
Saker, Anne. "Searching Upstream: A Writer Goes Fishing for the Man Who Calls Himself 'Trout Fishing in America'." The Oregonian 11 October 2007: F1, F4.
Saker's article at The Oregonian website
Tosches, Rich. "This Isn't Another Fish Story People: A Carpinteria Teen-Ager Was So Impressed with the book 'Trout Fishing in America' that He Has Legally Taken the Title as His Moniker." Los Angeles Times 14 March 1994: E1.
Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet formed their music duo "Trout Fishing in America" in Houston, Texas, during the mid-1970s, and continue to perform together present day. Their name was inspired by Brautigan's novel Trout Fishing in America, published in 1967.
Trout Fishing in Leytonstone, Sombrero Records, and The Cool Trout Basement
Trout Fishing in Leytonstone was a British independent music fanzine produced during the 1980s by David "Payney" Payne and Ally Payne (relation?). The fanzine is noted as one of the first to offer flexible disk recordings of independent music. At least four issues were produced.
Trout Fishing in Leytonstone #3 (1986)
Sha-la-la Flexi disc BA2, 1986
Taluh Gosh: "I Told You So"
Razorcuts: "Sad Kaleidoscope"
Trout Fishing in Leytonstone #4 (early 1987?)
Sha-la-la Flexi BA6 disc split release
Reserve: "The Sun Slid Down Behind The Tower"
The Siddeleys: "Wherever You Go"
David Payne also started a record label and club inspired by Brautigan. The label was christened Sombrero Records, after Sombrero Fallout, and the club became The Cool Trout Basement, and was located at Portlands, 383 Euston Road, London.
A rock group active in the late 1980s and early 1990s who took their name from Brautigan's novel In Watermelon Sugar. The band, featuring lead singers Steve Sato and Karla Bonkowski, produced a demonstration cassette tape in 1989. The cassette liner featured a photogaph of Brautigan and a quote from his novel.
In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar.
Posters advertising the band's appearances in November 1990 repeated the Brautigan photograph and quote.
Louise Bendall and Hypatia Kingsley started a band called Watermelon Sugar in 2003 and have since created three CDs, Sample (October 2004), Something to Savor (November 2005) and Slice (April 2008). The band's name came from Bendall's favorite book by Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar.