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"But there is nothing like Richard Brautigan anywhere. Perhaps, when we are very old, people will write "Brautigans" just as we now write novels. Let us hope so. For this man has invented a genre, a whole new shot, a thing needed, delightful, and right."
Lew Welch, reviewing In Watermelon Sugar
"All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds."
Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan was a writer. He enjoyed trout fishing.

He was influenced by The Beat Generation and embraced by hippies but did not seem to feel at home with either group. Once The Sixties ended and the hippies got day-jobs, he was left without a significant audience, which may have contributed to his depression and subsequent suicide in 1984.

Despite (or because of) his issues with depression, his writing shows a light-hearted sense of humor, a vivid imagination and a love of language.

His works... They tend to be difficult to describe. He uses a simplified, child-like diction (if it won't make your brain explode, try imagining the New Age Retro Hippie version of Ernest Hemingway). His novels will invariably have some One Paragraph Chapters. His later works seem to veer into genre fiction, including detective fiction and horror, but in fact still have more in common with the rest of Brautigan's work than any straight genre piece. He was also a poet, which basically let him crank his imagination Up to Eleven.

He occasionally engaged in other creative pursuits. Of note is Listening to Richard Brautigan, in which the author records sounds of daily life in his apartment and reads poems and stories, as well as Please Plant This Book, a book of seed packets with brief poems printed on them (there is now an interactive flash version of this book online... no physical seeds though).

Go ahead and give Mr. Brautigan a try. You will smile.

Works by Richard Brautigan

Tropes invoked by Richard Brautigan

  • Meta Fiction: Trout Fishing in America is a character in Trout Fishing in America.
  • One Paragraph Chapter
  • True Art Is Angsty: Largely averted. Despite Brautigan's issues with depression, much of his work is completely free of angst. On the other hand, his works aren't always cheery. His poems especially can be quite melancholic.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Sometimes averted (especially in his poetry, which was often very short and to-the-point), but mostly played straight. In his book Trout Fishing in America, for instance, the phrase "trout fishing in america" can refer to the title of the book, the book itself, the literal act of fishing or at least two distinct characters, one of which is a disabled alcoholic with the surname "Shorty."[1]
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: I'm actually not sure what his two wives looked like, but it has often been noted that Brautigan's books covers (which are typically a photo of the author and the woman he was seeing at the time) feature progressively more attractive women as you go through time. This culminates with Revenge Of The Lawn and The Abortion, both published in 1971, which feature the stunningly attractive brunettes Sherry Vetter and Victoria Domalgoski, respectively. All subsequent books do not feature photographs.
    • The lady on the cover of Trout Fishing in America is Virginia Adler Brautigan, the author's first wife and mother of his daughter Ianthe, who wrote an affectionate book about her father, You Can't Catch Death. The Japanese lady on the back cover of The Tokyo Montana Express is not Akiko Yoshimura Brautigan, the author's second wife, but Brautigan's friend Shiina Takako.
    • Victoria Domalgoski recorded one album, Secret of the Bloom, as "Victoria". The liner notes are by Richard.

Notes

  1. He's a satire of Nelson Algren's character Railroad Shorty.
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