Browsing All Posts published on »January, 2007«

Borrowing the light

January 28, 2007

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When you tire of the motorways you head off the beaten track, for the backroads, the mountain passes, the paths through woods and scrapyards. Brautigan is one, half grown over, meandering and chaotic like Big Sur itself but all the more beautiful for it. Read him not for the traces of darkness but for the life, for like all great art it is a temporary triumph of life over death, a joyous momentary reprieve for the condemned. Darran Anderson on Richard Brautigan.

The mayonnaise moment

January 26, 2007

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Soon I was dining on Richard Brautigan every night. I worked my way through the entire selection of fresh-water Brautigan’s, devouring the entire school of variety in bite-sized increments. Some tasted like pulp detective novels, others like Mark Twain‘s bunions or a 1950s cheeseburger and others still recalled the earthy top soil of a Gettysburg battle-field, but all were highly satisfying and tasted quite like no other writer. With each meal my brain capacity and imagination grew in tandem with my appetite for this strange new dish, the Richard Brautigan. Baked, fried, poached, grilled, stewed or in a soup – mmm. The words of Richard Brautigan falling from my mouth, crumbs of poetry all over the kitchen floor, one-liners hanging from my chin, a smear of a metaphor on the cupboard door under the sink. It was as if the steady diet of Richard Brautigans was making me stronger, pushing me on, building me up. Ben Myers on Richard Brautigan.

The captain gives a reading

January 25, 2007

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"Do you have any of Richard Brautigan’s work?" said Richard. "What does he write?" said the clerk. "He writes novels and books of poetry." Richard’s mouth was assuming an odd shape under his moustache. "What kind of novels?" said the clerk. "Famous ones, you know, like great literature," said Richard without moving his mouth very much because his teeth were gritted. "Our literary works are over there, and our poetry section is over there," said the clerk, pointing first to a large part of the wall near us then to a tiny clump of books in the back of the store. "Thank you," gritted Richard. Soon we had scoured both sections and found one book, The Hawkline Monster, in the whole store, so the Captain returned to the clerk while I hung back. "I would like to give you a little lesson in capitalism," said Richard. "You would find that in our business section," said the clerk. "I am Richard Brautigan," said Richard. "I write novels and books of poetry. People like them. When stores stock them, people buy them. You only have one of my books because people bought the rest of them. But you do not stock more of them. That is how book stores make money. People come to them to buy books, and in return, they give the book stores money. DON’T YOU FUCKERS WANT TO MAKE SOME FUCKING MONEY!!!!!" Greg Keeler on Richard Brautigan.

The table where the captain sat

January 23, 2007

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What this collection accomplishes is a larger portrait of the late American writer, moving from reminiscences of his early life and writings, to explorations and longer, critical essays on various aspects of his writings, as well as a piece by the founder and former curator of The Brautigan Library (a reference from the novel The Abortion). The book even includes pieces that show frustration and even anger at what Brautigan let himself turn into in later years, the “dark Brautigan” that one author refers to, the one who ended up telling his friends around both his residences that he was going to be in the other, before he turned a gun on himself in 1984, to be found in his kitchen weeks later. There aren’t that many books on Richard Brautigan out there in the world, and even Keith Abbott’s memoir of his experiences with Brautigan, Downstream from Trout Fishing in America has been out of print for so long that it’s become a rare collectable. Rob McLennan on John F. Barber's Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life.

Autumn days

January 21, 2007

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These days I would say that my affair with Richard Brautigan is in the autumn of its days. Not because I love him any less. Just because I’ve read everything. The hunger to acquire has gone. I mean, I’d still kill for a signed copy of anything (never quite managed to get one of those) or even a nice fish drawing (Brautigan was given to penning the occasional fish doodle) – but I can live without them (provided I don’t think about it too much – if I think about it too much I’ll go online as soon as I finish this and start hunting like some slack-jawed yokel for some signed edition or other). I still read him, though. December 2006 was the last time I read Brautigan (reading Sombrero Fallout for maybe the fiftieth time). It’s just one of those books (like Harriet the Spy or A Confederacy of Dunces) that only improves each time you read it. In the end, that’s what we have. The books. Peter Wild on Richard Brautigan.

A design for life

January 16, 2007

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Despite extracts from the Earl of Rochester, Ocatve Mirbeau, Oscar Wilde, Guillaume Lescable and J.K. Huysmans (and mentions of Verlaine, Rimbaud and the ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ Byron and his entourage), despite the feast of sex, death and subversion between these covers (and the many pieces not mentioned thus far and worth a read), the Romans, as William Napier gleefully points out, got there first. Susan Tomaselli reviews The Decadent Handbook.