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Stories

Richard Brautigan published one collection of short stories, as well as several individual stories.

Brautigan's stories are filled with whimsical metaphors and images that read more like poetry than fiction.

Revenge of the Lawn collects sixty-two stories written from 1962-1970.

And then there are several uncollected stories.
Richard Brautigan

Use the links below to access information and resources for Brautigan's collection of short stories.

Individual stories may be easily accessed by using the "Story Title Index."

Brautigan wrote and published several stories that were never collected in a volume of his works.
Information and resources are provided here for each of Brautigan's known, published, and uncollected stories.

Uncollected stories are grouped here by the year of their first publication, beginning with the earliest.

1975

"A Gun for Big Fish"
First Published
Front Cover Esquire March 1975: 70, 134.


1979

"The Short Story"
Why is a short story short?
     Ask that man sitting on a bench in the park, any park, but be prepared, for he might tell you a story longer than you would want to listen to.

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living 14 Jan. 1979: 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.
Described as "a compendium of short stories." Featured seven stories: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The other five were all collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman."
"Walking Toward December"
8 o'clock in the evening: I am walking down a street of closed shops and few people. It's Sunday, a day of rest. The shops are resting. People are in their homes waiting for Monday and work.
     It is late August but soon it will be December.
     The sun is going down.
     Another day is ending.
     They will keep ending just like this one until it is December.
     Why not December?
     And besides, haven't you heard yourself say, "It's almost Christmas? Where did the time go? I still haven't done all my shopping."
     It started with this August evening wondering what you're going to get Aunt Caroline who is so finicky and hard to please.

First Published
"Four Stories for Aki and Other Treats." California Living 14 Jan. 1979: 5-7.
The magazine of the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle.
Described as "a compendium of short stories." Featured seven stories: "The Short Story," "Walking Toward December," "The Purpose," "Meat," "The Great Golden Telescope," "Harmonica High," and "Her Last Known Boyfriend." The first two stories: "The Short Story" and "Walking Toward December" were not collected. The other five were all collected in The Tokyo-Montana Express. The last, "Her Last Known Boyfriend" was retitled "Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman."

1981

"The Last of What's Left"
The children gathered solemnly like shadows from the Bible to divide among themselves the last of what was left, which was barely nothing compared to what had once been, but it was more than being dead, so they had been taught for centuries.

They each took their portion which could only be counted with a microscope, and then went silently in different directions, never to see each other again.

There was no reason to.

They left behind an empty place where everything had once been.

First Published
Front Cover "Three by Richard Brautigan." Corona (2) 1981: 12-14.
Featured three stories: "The Last of What's Left," "Closets," and "The Grasshopper's Mirror."
Background
Michael Sexson, editor of Corona said,

Michael Sexson. Email to John F. Barber, 18 February 2002.
Online Resource
Corona literary magazine website
"Closets"
I remember I once went through a period of counting closets in haunted houses. I was inbetween love affairs. I had no idea what would happen next with my heart or if anything would ever happen again, so I counted closets in haunted houses.

I was glad when it was over.

7,914,322 closets is too many, not to speak of walking up the stairs to each haunted house and slowly opening the front door.

First Published
Front Cover "Three by Richard Brautigan." Corona (2) 1981: 12-14.
Featured three stories: "The Last of What's Left," "Closets," and "The Grasshopper's Mirror."
Background
Michael Sexson, editor of Corona said,

Michael Sexson. Email to John F. Barber, 18 February 2002.
Online Resource
Corona literary magazine website
"The Grasshopper's Mirror"
Yesterday I thought I saw my first grasshopper of summer, something moved grasshopperly in the grass, but I didn’t actually see it. I saw something else, perhaps the wind or the ghost of a grasshopper, trying to remember last year when it was alive.

Today for certain the first grasshopper of summer jumped right onto the road in front of me. There was nothing haunted to its presence. It was just suddenly there.

I will be seeing grasshoppers for the next four months, on into October when the cold nights and snow will change it into what I thought was a grasshopper yesterday, a lingering uneasy gesture in the grass.

First Published
Front Cover "Three by Richard Brautigan." Corona (2) 1981: 12-14.
Featured three stories: "The Last of What's Left," "Closets," and "The Grasshopper's Mirror."
Background
Michael Sexson, editor of Corona said,

Michael Sexson. Email to John F. Barber, 18 February 2002.
Online Resource
Corona literary magazine website

1984

"The Lost Tree"
There were a lot of things that we could have talked about. Last year we made love under a tree in the woods. There was a nice patch of soft, perfect for love-making grass under a tree. It was a hot afternoon and the tree lent our passion its shade.

This spring I've gone for some walks down in the woods but mysteriously I can't find that tree. Not that I've deliberately gone seeking it like a ghoul wanting to feast on the ghost of a dead passion. I just thought that somehow upon a spring walk, I must just come across that tree, but I haven't. I don't know what I would think if I were to find that tree. I know that I would not sit down underneath it or in the future bring another woman to that tree.

There were a lot of things that we could have talked about.

We walked back to the house in silence. I felt happy. I didn't know at that time that every step we took was a step toward walking out of each other's lives.

Textual References
In July 1980, Brautigan visited Boulder, Colorado, where he was writer-in-residence at the University of Colorado Boulder. There he met Masako Kano. This poem is about a tree in Boulder, under which Brautigan and Kano had frequent sex.

First Published
"Richard Brautigan: Tokyo and Montana." Friends of the Washington Review of the Arts 9(5) Feb./Mar. 1984: 9.
Featured this story, a poem titled "Night Flowing River," and a photograph of Brautigan by Toby Thompson.

May 1968 "An Apartment on Telegraph Hill"
The narrator (a thinly disguised Brautigan), a sculptor whose work "had long since ceased to yield any satisfaction" and who "had no interest in women except to get occasionally laid when I got bored with getting drunk and it took a really good woman to get me away from the bottle" dreamed of having "a girlfriend on Telegraph Hill" with a nice apartment. "Coming from a poor family, I've always been attracted to women above my station."

"Key to the Frogs of South-Western Australia"
A story about a writer who attempts to write a spontaneous novel, thinking to use "Key to the Frogs of South-Western Australia" as the title. Every time he starts, however, he remembers a short story by Wallace Stegner, "Field Guide to Western Birds," and its metaphors of observing and identifying life (outward endeavors) rather than writing (an inward endeavor), and stops. The title came from a book Brautigan purchased prior to starting this story.

October 1963

Brautigan and his first wife, Virginia (Ginny) Dionne Alder, separated 24 December 1962, when he learned of Virginia's affair with his friend, Anthony (Tony) Frederic Aste. Virginia, and daughter, Ianthe, moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, with Aste. Early in October 1963, they returned to San Francisco. Brautigan wrote about the changes he saw in Ianthe in a series of unpublished stories. In one, "To Love a Child in California the Way Love Should Be," he writes about the heartache of having to leave after visiting with Ianthe for only one-half hour. Her crying, he wrote, followed him down the stairs as he walked away.

Fall 1963
"The Haight-Ashbury Crawdad"
Brautigan describes one of his favorite walks in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, saying "it's beautiful where Haight Street meets Stanyan Street at the Golden Gate Park. I like . . . to enjoy the last hour before sundown."

1979
"Walking Mushrooms," "The Umbrella Photograph," and "Last Words about What Came and Went Yesterday"
All three written in Japan during Brautigan's 1979 visit. "Last Words about What Came and Went Yesterday" concerns piles of shattered umbrellas following a typhoon.

September 1981
"My Name Forgotten in the Grass"
A single paragraph story about Brautigan's feelings about his daughter Ianthe's wedding to Paul Swensen.
She is my only daughter, and the end of my family name. [. . .] My name became the shadow of an old deer bone among the green grass that doesn't know its name.
January 1984
"Umbrellas in the Snow"
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning his surprise to see residents break out their umbrellas with the first snow of the year.

"Mussels"
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning a nearby sandwich shop. The hot mussel sandwich could be as good as any reason for returning to Amsterdam.

"Sandwalker"
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning a fantasy of wanting to reach through the wall of his hotel room and kill a young boy in the next room who was keeping him awake.

"The Habitue"
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Owl Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, concerning getting his shoes repaired.

April 1984
"Added Days"
Vague memories from Brautigan's childhood.
Written while Brautigan stayed at the Keio Plaza Hotel, in Tokyo, Japan.

"The Ad"
A story about a large gingerbread cottage in the lobby of the Keio Plaza Hotel, in Tokyo, Japan. Brautigan included observations of a man vacuuming crumbs from the carpet in front of the cottage, and two women posing for a photograph in front of the cottage.


Richard Brautigan wrote and published many short stories.
This index provides an alphabetical listing of each individual story title.

Use the links below to access information and resources for each of Brautigan's short stories.
Select the first letter of the first word of the story title, excluding any articles (A, The, etc.).


"1692 Cotton Mather Newsreel"
"1953 Chevrolet"
"1977 Television Screen, The"
"1/3, 1/3, 1/3"
"44:40"

"All the People That I Didn't Meet and the Places That I Didn't Go"
"Al's Rose Harbor"
"American Flag Decal"
"Another Montana School Gone to the Milky Way"
"Another Texas Ghost Story"
"April in God-damn"
"Armored Car, The"
"Atlantisburg"
"Auction, The"
"Autumn Trout Gathering"

"Banners of My Own Choosing"
"Beacon, The"
"Beautiful Oranges of Osaka, The"
"Bed Salesman, The"
"Beer Story"
"Betrayed Kingdom"
"Blackberry Motorist"
"Blue Sky"
"Breakfast in Beirut"
"Butcher, The"

"California Mailman"
"Castle of the Snow Bride"
"Cat Cantaloupe"
"Chicken Fable"
"Closest I Have Been to the Sea Since Evolution, The"
"Closets"
"Clouds over Egypt"
"Cobweb Toy, The"
"Coffee"
"Cold Kingdom Enterprise"
"Complete History of Germany and Japan, A"
"Complicated Banking Problems"
"Contents for Good Luck"
"Convention, The"
"Cooking Spaghetti Dinner in Japan"
"Corporal"
"Correct Time"
"Crazy Old Women Are Riding the Buses of America Today"
"Crows Eating a Truck Tire in the Dead of Winter"

"Dancing Feet"
"Death in Canada, A"
"Different of the Same Drummer"
"Different Way of Looking at President Kennedy's Assassination, A"
"Dogs on the Roof"
"Drowned Japanese Boy"

"Elmira"
"Ernest Hemingway's Typist"
"Eye for Good Produce, An"
"Eyes of Japan, The"

"Fame in California/1964"
"Fantasy Ownership"
"Farewell to the First Grade and Hello to the National Enquirer"
"Feeling of Helplessness, A"
"Fence, The"
"Five Ice-Cream Cones Running in Tokyo"
"Florida"
"Football"
"Forgiven"
"Four People in Their Eighties"

"Gathering of a Californian, The"
"Getting to Know Each Other"
"Ghosts"
"Ghost Children of Tacoma, The"
"Gone Before We Open Our Eyes"
"Good Work of Chickens, The"
"Grasshopper's Mirror, The"
"Great Golden Telescope, The"
"Greyhound Tragedy"
"Gun for Big Fish, A"

"Halloween in Denver"
"Hangover as Folk Art"
"Harem"
"Harmonica High"
"Her Last Known Boyfriend a Canadian Airman"
"High Building in Singapore, A"
"Holiday in Germany"
"Homage to Groucho Marx"
"Homage to Rudi Gernreich"
"Homage to the San Francisco YMCA"
"House of Carpets"

"I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone"
"Ice Age Cab Company"
"Imaginary Beginning to Japan"
"In Pursuit of the Impossible Dream"
"Instant Ghost Town, The"
"Irrevocable Sadness of Her Thank You, The"

"Japanese Love Affair"
"Japanese Squid Fishermen Are Asleep, The"

"Kyoto, Montana"

"Last of My Armstrong Spring Creek Mosquito Bites, The"
"Last of What's Left, The"
"Leaves"
"Light on at the Tastee-Freez"
"Lint"
"Literary Life in California/1964, The"
"Long Time Ago People Decided to Live in America, A"
"Lost Chapters of Trout Fishing in America: 'Rembrandt Creek' and 'Carthage Sink'"
"Lost Tree"

"Magic of Peaches, The"
"Man Who Shot Jesse James, The"
"Marching in the Opposite Direction of a Pizza"
"Meat"
"Memory of a Girl, The"
"Menu/1965, The"
"Mill Creek Penguins, The"
"Montana Love"
"Montana Traffic Spell"
"Mouse, The"
"My Fair Tokyo Lady"
"My Fault"
"My Tokyo Friend"

"Need for Gardens, A"
"No Hunting Without Permission"

"Old Bus, The"
"Old Man Working the Rain"
"Old Testament Book of the Telephone Company, The"
"One Afternoon in 1939"
"One Arm Burning in Tokyo"
"One-Frame Movie about a Man Living in the 1970s"
"OPEN"
"Overland Journey of Joseph Francl: The First Bohemian to Cross the Plains to the California Gold Fields, The"

"Pacific Ocean, The"
"Pacific Radio Fire"
"Painstaking Popcorn Label"
"Pale Marble Movie"
"Parking Place Lost"
"Partners"
"Perfect California Day"
"Pleasures of the Swamp"
"Poetry Will Come to Montana on March 24th"
"Portrait of a Marriage"
"Post Offices of Eastern Oregon, The"
"Pretty Office, The"
"Purpose, The"

"Rabbits"
"Railroading in Tokyo"
"Reason for Living, A"
"Remarkable Dining Cars of the Northern Pacific Railroad, The"
"Revenge of the Lawn"
"Rubber Bands"

"Safe Journey Like This River, A"
"Sand Castles"
"San Francisco Snake Story, A"
"Scarlatti Tilt"
"Self-Portrait as an Old Man"
"September California"
"Seventeen Dead Cats"
"Short History of Oregon"
"Short History of Religion in California, A"
"Short Story, The"
"Short Story about Contemporary Life in California, A"
"Shrine of Carp"
"Sky Blue Pants"
"Skylab at the Graves of Abbott and Costello"
"Smallest Snowstorm on Record, The"
"Something Cooking"
"Spiders Are in the House"
"Studio 54"
"Study in California Flowers, A"
"Study in Thyme and Funeral Parlors"
"Subscribers to the Sun"
"Sunday"

"Talk Show"
"Tap Dancing Chikadee Slaves"
"There Is No Dignity, Only the Windswept Plains of Ankona"
"Thoreau Rubber Band"
"Times Square in Montana"
"Tire Chain Bridge"
"To the Yotsuya Station"
"Tod"
"Tokyo Snow Story"
"Tomb of the Unknown Friend, The"
"Toothbrush Ghost Story"
"Trick or Treating Down to the Sea in Ships"
"Turkey and Dry Breakfast Cereal Sonata"
"Two Montana Humidifiers"

"Umbrellas"
"Unlimited Supply of 35 Millimeter Film, An"

"Very Good Dead Friends"
"View from the Dog Tower, The"

"Waking Up Again"
"Walking Toward December"
"Weather in San Francisco, The"
"Werewolf Raspberries"
"What Are You Going to Do with 390 Photographs of Christmas Trees?"
"When 3 Made Sense for the First Time"
"White"
"Wild Birds of Heaven, The"
"Wind in the Ground"
"Window, The"
"Winter Rug"
"Winter Vacation"
"Wolf Is Dead, The"
"Women When They Put Their Clothes On in the Morning"
"World War I Los Angeles Airplane, The"