Richard Brautigan

You probably know this already, but I’m a huge fan of Brautigan, so much so that I decided about 8 years ago to make him my thesis subject. At this point (post viva and in revision mode) I’m struggling to finish my work on him and it occurred to me that posting things up on the Blog and elsewhere often gives me that extra push to write. So what the hell, as I finish a section I’m going to stick it up on here for only the most bored of you surfers to glance at. I won’t keep the whole thing up at any one time, but I’ll rotate them around on this page here. For today (or maybe for a few days) it’s the introduction.

Next up will be the new chapter 1 (previously chapter 7) which talks about his redefinition of the nature of biography, followed by his relationship to the Beats, his postmodern technique and his Zen influences… Bored yet? I know I would be. Don’t you hate students who bang on and on about the stuff they’re working on?

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6 thoughts on “Richard Brautigan

  1. Vera May 30, 2011 / 12:08 am

    Am so excited about reading your work on Brautigan. Huge fan. Need to learn more. Working on a series of performance and literary events, my Brautigan project, based round him and would love to pick your brains. Found you on twitter. Hurrah!

  2. James Everington May 30, 2011 / 10:00 am

    Great, I love Brautigan and have read a lot (but not all) of his stuff. Favourite I think is Sombrero Fallout.

  3. Neil Schiller May 30, 2011 / 1:23 pm

    Vera, always good to find another Brautigan fan. Yeah, give me a shout on neil_schiller at hotmail dot com.

    James – didn’t know you were a fan too. I like Sombrero Fallout, or at least I really like half of it (the narrative about the author and his ex-girlfriend), and think the self-writing riot bit is ok. My favourites are So the Wind Won’t Blow it all Away, A Confederate General from Big Sur, An Unfortunate Woman and, predictably, the short stories Revenge of the Lawn. Been labouring under the cloud of this fucking thesis for 8 years so final push might get me over the line (hopefully).

    Didn’t win the Pulp Idol thing by the way. Was (kind of) a runner up!??!? Second prize was a residential on a writing course and the judges said that was between me and someone else but considering my style and personality(!?) and the fact I’d self-published before they thought the other writer would benefit from the prize more and I didn’t need the help to push onwards. A backhanded compliment I guess. So does that make me a runner up? I have no idea to be honest 😀

  4. James Everington May 30, 2011 / 2:14 pm

    That’s a shame, but an achievement getting as far as you did. Ah well, you’ll be able to laugh at them when you’re famous…

    I like Brautigan a lot, but could never write like him. Sometimes I think his range is slightly limited even when he’s very good technically – he reminds me a lot of e.e.cummings in that respect actually. But I love the way some of his similies and metaphors seem to take off and have a life of their own…

    • Neil Schiller May 30, 2011 / 2:23 pm

      To be fair the winner went through from the same heat as me and I really liked what she’d done. It reminded me of Hi-Fidelity by Nick Hornby. And she was a really really nice girl too and had entered last year and got nowhere so I was actually really pleased for her. Was just a bit of a weird comment from one of the judges afterwards when he told me my “downfall” was self-publishing (which was within the rules) – it gave them the impression I didn’t need the help the competition offered. Ah well, I guess that was a compliment, of sorts!!?!?

      Yeah, I don’t love everything Brautigan did. Some of his mid-career stuff is quite weak I think. And his poetry veers between really interesting and very dull. At worst he can be quite twee and easy to dismiss, and at best I think he can be astounding. I too love his imagery, I’ve never read anyone else with such an outlandish use of metaphor that actually, somehow, works.

  5. Iain Manson June 3, 2011 / 1:09 am

    Having now finished So the Wind Won’t Blow it All Away, I’m in no doubt about Brautigan’s unusual talent – though I agree with James about the limitations. I only learned about the Machines of Loving Grace on telly the other day. I do find that slightly alarming, but it was another age, with attitudes so different from today.

    I’ve been waiting for you to tell us what happened at Pulp Idol. Damn! I can’t really start dropping your name yet, can I? Could you do a post telling us in detail what happened? It sounds interesting.

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