There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Don't read "So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away"

Finished Richard Brautigan's "So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away," the last of the three novels bound together with "Revenge of the Lawn" and "The Abortion"; the last of the six works by Brautigan I've re-read recently while riding RT buses to and from work; the last book published by Brautigan before he put a gun to his head and exited life.

Don't read "So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away."

Read the gorgeous and surprising "Trout Fishing in America," the beautiful, quirky poems in "The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster" and the surreal "In Watermelon Sugar."

Don't read "So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away."

The book is narrated as the author writes the book in 1979:

As I sit here on August 1st, 1979, my ear is pressed up against the past as if to the wall of a house that no longer exists.
And the narrator tells a tale of his childhood in the Pacific Northwest at the end of World War II, a time when a boy could ride a bike with his .22 rifle on his way to shoot rotten apples in an abandoned farm.
I am still searching for some meaning in it and perhaps even a partial answer to my own life, which as I grow closer to death, the answer gets further and further away.
I remember the day when I read the short news story in The Bee:

Publication Date 10/26/1984
Page A28

Body Text BOLINAS (AP) - Author Richard Brautigan, whose offbeat novels and poetry made him a hero of the '60s counterculture, was found dead Thursday at his home in this beach community north of San Francisco, his publisher said. He was 49.

The body of the author of such popular works as 'Trout Fishing in America' and 'The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster' was discovered by two friends who became concerned after not hearing from him, said publisher Seymour Lawrence of Delacorte Press in New York.

Sheriff's investigators said the decomposed body found in Brautigan's house apparently had been dead for several weeks, according to a lieutenant who asked not to be identified. The lieutenant said there was evidence the man had died of a gunshot wound.

In 1989, The Bee published an article by Carl Schoettler of the Baltimore Evening Sun about a new book on Brautigan. I haven't read the book, but this quote captures fully what I feel after reading "So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away":
"When his sales dropped," Keith Abbott says in "Downstream from Trout Fishing in America," "his angry amusement turned to plain anger, and thence to bitterness and fear, and finally to a kind of loathing that poisoned his spirit and partly eliminated his ability to respond to life and its small happinesses."
"So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away" ends with the narrator describing his own slow disappearance:
Anyway, I just kept getting smaller and smaller beside the pond, more and more unnoticed in the darkening summer grass until I disappeared into the 32 years that passed since then, leaving me right here, right now.
Life and its small happinesses. That's what Brautigan brought to life with his poetic vision. That's what lives on.

Don't read "So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away" until you've read the other books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I discovered Brautigan yesterday, and sorry for my english, but I love him because he puts me in a state of helplessness.