Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Emperor has no clothes?

I grew up in the 60s. I wore bell-bottoms, and tie-dyed shirts and my music was Donovan, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and the Beach Boys. And I read Richard Brautigan (In Watermelon Sugar; The Revenge of the Lawn, Trout Fishing in America). Working in the "book business" (bookstores and libraries) since I was a teen, I've come across Brautigan time and again and remembered his work as cool, and innovative and...weird. Today I just finished re-reading the above, along with The Abortion, and The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and I have to say, I think he's just weird. I found this clip of him--brushing his teeth and reading a few excerpts from his works--and he reminded me of a young man who comes in to the library frequently: quirky and maybe not all mentally and socially "there."

Brautigan committed suicide in 1984, but he still has a following: a website of devotees, and from his Wikipedia entry
  • "But when his novel Trout Fishing in America was published in 1967, Brautigan was catapulted to international fame and labeled by literary critics as the writer most representative of the emerging countercultural youth-movement of the late 1960s")
  • Also in a 1980 letter to Brautigan from W. P. Kinsella, Kinsella states that Brautigan is his greatest influence for writing and his favorite book is In Watermelon Sugar.
  • In March 1994, a teenager named Peter Eastman Jr. from Carpinteria, California legally changed his name to "Trout Fishing in America", and now teaches English in Japan. [9] At around the same time, National Public Radio reported on a young couple who had named their baby "Trout Fishing in America".
  • There is a folk rock band called Trout Fishing in America.[10], and another called Watermelon Sugar[11], which quotes the opening paragraph of that book on their home page. The industrial rock band Machines of Loving Grace took their name from one of Brautigan's best-known poems.
  • In the UK The Library of Unwritten Books is a project in which ideas for novels are collected and stored. The venture is inspired by Brautigan's novel The Abortion.
  • The library for unpublished works envisioned by Brautigan in his novel The Abortion now exists as The Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont.[12]
  • There are two stores named "In Watermelon Sugar" after Brautigan's novella, one in Baltimore, Maryland and one in Traverse City, Michigan.
I don't get it. But this time around, I did enjoy reading The Abortion, working in a library as I do. I just hope Brandolyn & Golden don't get any ideas about naming my next grandchild from any Richard Brautigan novel...

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