OK, so this week, once again, is a little different in format. I recently received a suggestion to include Richard Brautigan in the 'one book you must read' list & rather than look at one book specifically I thought it would be interesting to look at an author for once.
My suggestion comes from Gavin...
Honestly, I'd not heard of Brautigan before BUT after a little bit of research here & there I found out a few interesting things.
01. Richard Brautigan published ten novels during his lifetime. Another was published post-humously. A manuscript for one unpublished novel has been identified.
Brautigan is noted for his whimsical novels that, by his own account, evolved from his efforts to write poetry.
'One day when I was twenty-five years old, I looked down and realized that I could write a sentence. Let's try one of those classic good-bye lines, "I don't think we should see so much of each other any more because I think we're getting a little too serious," which really meant that I wrote my first novel Trout Fishing in America and followed it with three other novels.'
— Richard Brautigan, 'Old Lady'
02. Richard Gary Brautigan (1935-1984) was an American writer popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s and is often noted for using humor and emotion to propel a unique vision of hope and imagination throughout his body of work which includes ten books of poetry, eleven novels, one collection of short stories, and miscellaneous non-fiction pieces. His easy-to-read yet idiosyncratic prose style is seen as the best characterization of the cultural electricity prevalent in San Francisco, Brautigan's home, during the ebbing of the Beat Generation and the emergence of the counterculture movement. Brautigan's best-known works include his novel, Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster (1968), and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).
03. Throughout all his work, Brautigan is noted for his detached, anonymous first person point of view, his idiosyncratic, autobiographical, quirky, yet easy-to-read prose style and episodic narrative structure full of unconventional but vivid images powered by imagination, strange and detailed observational metaphors, humor, and satire, all presented in a seemingly simplistic, childlike manner.
(info taken from www.brautigan.net/)
The four books I chose from his list of works are: Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, A Confederate General from Big Sur, and Sombrero Fallout. This is what Amazon had to say about each novel:
Trout Fishing... 'With his revolutionary prose style and magical imagination, Richard Brautigan has become one of the major cult authors of our time. Trout Fishing in America is his take on America: a funny, original and miraculous journey through a country - and a mind.'
In Watermelon... '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. In this book, Richard Brautigan discovers and expresses the mood of a new generation.'
A Confederate General... 'Jesse and Lee share a house owned by a very nice Chinese dentist, where it rains in the hall. They move to cabins on the cliffs at Big Sur where the deafening croaks of frogs can be temporarily silenced by the cry, "Campbell's Soup". Ultimately, we learn how the frogs are permanently silenced ... and dreams disperse around a fire into 186,000 endings per second.
In anticipating flower power and the ideals of the Sixties, Brautigan's debut novel was at least ten years before its time and remains a weird and brilliant classic.'
Sombrero Fallout 'A heartbroken American writer starts a story about an ice-cold sombrero that falls inexplicably from the sky and lands in the centre of a small Southwest town. Devastated by the departure of his gorgeous Japanese girlfriend, he cannot concentrate on his writing and in frustration he throws away his beginning. But as the man searches through his apartment for strands of his lost love's hair, the discarded story in the wastepaper basket - through some kind of elaborate origami - carries on without him. Arguments over the sombrero begin, one thing leads to another and before long all hell breaks loose in the normally sleep town. Brautigan's fertile imagination twists and pulls at the ensuing chaos to come up with a tender, moving, surreal and incredibly funny tale that is told by a writer at the very peak of his creative powers.'
There is also a Brautigan Book Club, with an incredible header & the tagline "Brautigan is good for you" - Bruce Cook, The National Observer.
Here you read & discuss all things Brautigan, including a section called 'Please Plant This Book' where you can receive a little pack with some seeds & other nice surprises. For more information on the project, or to request a free copy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, there's a little bit about Richard Brautigan, have you read any of his works? Or are you a fan of American literature? If there's a book or author that you think should be included on the 'one book you must read' list let me know either in the comments below or on twitter.
As always, happy reading!
Buy Richard Brautigan's works on Amazon.