I’ve been a fan of Richard Brautigan since I was passed a well worn, dog eared copy of one of the Picador versions of Sombrero Fallout in the mid 90’s. Although I was familiar with the beat authors of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs etc; Brautigan was a new discovery. Although some lump him in with that genre -as Trout fishing was often classed alongside them or even post-beat , his writing is totally at odds to them with an almost childlike prose running throughout.
After reading it, being blown away and then dutifully passing on; I discovered that it was hard to find his books anywhere esp. pre-internet. Even in the early days of Amazon/ebay – his books would sell for far more than I could afford due to the scarcity, and being out of print. It took the republishing of some of his back catalogue from the cult Rebel Inc imprint in the late 90’s to bring him a new audience.
Canongate where Rebel Inc was a subsidiary (check) now publish his works so they are easy to find, but I only buy the worn second hand picador versions as they seen to reflect the content much better.
How could you describe them though ? There’s stories/plots as such, but I can’t think of any other author who writes in such a manner.
His playful gentle prose certainly won’t appeal to all but if you are a fan of language itself and how it can be used, you will be entranced (at times). His books are short and not difficult reads at all, though not to be rushed.
Some of his great little phrases should be re-read and savoured.
Sadly to a degree, I read this great biography – LINK – which doesn’t paint him in the best light at times but does give a good background to his life and how he approached writing and is worth checking out as well.
What should you read?
Firstly, and this not often said- the plot doesn’t really matter.
A Richard Brautigan book is putting yourself in his own surreal, absurd, bizarre world, with the story a side-line of such. There is a tale to these but don’t go expecting major character development or more involved literary devices.
However; start with Sombrero Fallout like I did, as it’s one of my favourites and Brautigan at his best.
To steal from one reviewer on Amazon ‘it’s crap and great and weird at the same time’. Yep, sounds about right.
Other works of his also available on Kindle Unlimited
Trout Fishing in America – the book that initially made his name. Not a story as such, even by Brautigan’s loose terms but a series of prose entries that sort of flow together.
So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away – his last novel and far more (and I hesitate to use the word polished) ‘traditional maybe? A lot of sadness as well. Reflective maybe on the depression he suffered later on in life.
Not on Kindle Unlimited but worth reading.