Writers for the 70's Richard Brautigan by Terence Malley 1972
Thoughts Going InCan we get more meta?
I am writing a book-review for a book, which is a critical review of Richard Brautigan's work. So, a review of a review, if you will.
I know nothing about Richard Brautigan. And if I have ever run across his name before, I have completely forgotten it.
I am expecting some degree of zaniness in the base work, as the jacket copy assures me Richard is a 'startlingly original and hilariously funny writer.' Well, I'll be the judge of that, which will be difficult, as I am expecting Terence Malley (the author of the book I'm actually reading) to be a bit dry. After all, you know how those deconstructionists can be.
But I could be surprised... or maybe the book will catch me unawares. After all, I picked this book up this afternoon. And I'm already starting it this evening. Perhaps, just perhaps, it will be exactly what I am in the mood for. I, certainly, hope it is.
Books By Richard Brautigan
1963-71: Revenge of the Lawn
1964: A Confederate General From Big Sur
1967: Trout Fishing in America
1968: In Watermelon Sugar
1968: The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster
1970: Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt
1970-1: The Abortion
drop-outs from a society without sustaining valuesOnce again, I'm not taking the effort to pull excerpts, as much. And I'd just be quoting someone else's excerpts in this instance, so why bother?
- Hesse. Tolkien. Vonnegut. Brautigan.
- One of these authors is not like the other.
- Still famous, that is.
- At the time, these were the four authors in the Writers for the 70's series.
- Maybe, I should read more Beats.
- We're dealing with an Aquarius.
- I am, simply, not that familiar with his work.
- A study in titles.
- Not the works, themselves.
- Maybe, we're reading too much into it.
- Much like Hemingway, Brautigan is, also, a writer...
- A writer who wrote about fish.
- There's the connection.
- I mean, come on.
- Hemingway gave us staccato, factual based writing.
- Um, and best as I can tell, Brautigan does not.
- Oh, I remember preferring to be alone than being alone.
- Being alone in a public space makes one more keenly aware that they are alone.
- Alone in the woods, however, is more of a natural state of affairs.
- Can a writer be 'written out'?
- Is Brautigan written-out?
- A solid summary, I presume.
- I'm learning about Hemingway...
- As the contrast.
- It's fun to see a story through the eyes of one who gives that story meaning.
- I wouldn't.
- A fan-boy deconstruction.
- Just by-the-by, there was nothing by Brautigan on the library shelf.
- Maybe, he paid the price for writing an emotionally neutral story about abortion.
- Eh, it happens.
- Besides, it ain't the end of the world...
- Just for the fetus.
- Har! Har!
- I don't think I want to read the original.
- Heck! I know I don't.
- I drift off into the hope of possible stories of my own.
- But no characters or plot lines are stepping forward.
- There is no point to humour.
- But humour.
- I don't know what a limpet is.
- It's not nihilism.
- But a hedonism of The Now.
- The centre cannot hold.
- For, there is no centre.
- Long ago, the Counter Culture went mainstream.
- Reading this book is a sort of meditation.
- As is reading this list, I am sure.
- It's not as bad as some folks claim.
- As in, I'm not surprised Brautigan disappeared from the scene.
- He probably died.
- I wonder if he did.
- I'm reading the words.
- I know my brain is processing them.
- Well, some part of my brain is processing them.
- But the real attention lies in a story of my own.
- With not much overlap.
- A river.
- A girl.
- Do I need a dog?
- But maybe the girl does.
- Reading another book might not be a bad way to get inspiration for one of my own.
- I might have read more.
- Back when I was writing more.
- Numerous pop music references.
- As if they are touchstones.
- And way signs.
- I do not believe that I write like Hemingway.
- But I would be happy to be compared to Hemingway.
- On the other hand, I have no need to be compared to Brautigan.
The DebriefingSince he is billed as a humorist, let us concede that Richard Brautigan is funny. But the writer of this book (a one Terence Malley) is not very funny. Thus, the best part of Brautigan is, likely (almost assuredly), lost in the translation.
I, also, have little feel for the context of the times. Brautigan lived in California (at Ground Zero, more or less) during the transition from The Beats to The Hippies, making Brautigan (most very likely) a Beat... or at least, one who lived in accordance with Beat Ideals... whatever that might mean. Thus, his stories might have rung true in a time and a place... or have been the best at fulfilling a specific need (A Drug Trip Humorist... or something like that) who was over-written (and better written) subsequently by someone else.
More than anything else, what I have to say about Brautigan is that I have not read him. Terence Malley is a poor substitute, a fact that I think even Terence Malley would agree with. Unfortunately (or not) after reading this book, I have little need to delve into Brautigan's work any further. And even the desire to do an Internet Search to find out whatever became of him will likely fade away prior to my taking any action.
On the other hand, maybe the last half of the book was spent with me dreaming of other things. I have a notion of a (fictional) river trip taken during my youth with a young lady I knew at the time. It's easy to see us camping by the side of a river, which I envision as the river in Montana that I drove next to one afternoon while travelling cross-country. It's amazing how long that afternoon has stayed with me: especially after considering that I never set foot in the water. Anyhow, I would like to revisit that river. And I can see doing it as some sort of Personal Revisionist History, which basically means as a highly fictional autobiography, with the additional assumption that I was a slightly different person: so, an autobiography of not quite me... with not quite her.
Anyhow, Drugs, Sex, and Rock & Roll... or not. The story could just be about the river trip, the summer, or a longer period of time. And oddly enough, if we (you and I, me and the girl, you and the girl, the girl and him, or some other combination) travel away from the river, I tend to start including a motorcycle (for logistical reasons), the dealing of drugs (for monetary reasons), and maybe even a murder... for plot-line reasons.
LSD might figure prominently in the story. And if it does, said LSD will be transported via hermetically sealed Kool-Aid packets: another obvious callback to Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, the inspiration for all this.
Of course, I would have to make time for such a story in my life, which I doubt I will, so it does not seem likely that I will be writing a novel any time soon. Thus, the idea for a book (call it Sex in the Summer Sun and/or The High Adventures of B&L) was my big take-away from reading Writers for the 70's: Richard Brautigan: a book which was fairly boring... but also, full of countless ideas, so many ideas, it was easy to peel off one or two and go drifting... down a river on a warm sunny day with the girl of my dreams.
Really, I just need an over-arching plot (that's always nice) and the time (harder to come by, dedicated time, that I want to spend standing in front of a computer screen writing) and I got myself my next novel.
I'll play with it a bit further. And maybe something will come of it. But it's (been laid to rest) here, just in case I don't.