Happy Birthday Richard Brautigan

I thought I should do a post on Richard Brautigan as 30th January is indeed his birthday. However, I couldn’t think of a goddamn thing to say. Having spent so long writing stuff about him, I’m all out of ideas. So I’m going to cheat. This is instead an extract from my thesis – a section I haven’t put up on the blog which deals with his engagement with autobiography:

…in his writing, intellectual digression and sensual interpretation are geared towards the representation of a consciousness in transit. The scenerios and narratives of his novels, the imagery and physical stimuli of his poems, are secondary to the manner in which the narrator or the authorial voice perceives and rationalises. The device is bared at all times: “expressing a human need, I always wanted to write a book that ended with the word Mayonnaise” (Trout 10). Brautigan inhabits a synchronously self-aware and disposable world, a riotous landscape of evocative symbols that trigger the processes in his mind which become his primary source of interest. How these symbols manifest themselves is purely arbitrary: they can be anything from an umbrella or a seagull to an airport terminal. Terence Malley categorises this technique as a “fascination with everything and anything”, “a lack of proportion” (87), but it is a much more significant feature of Brautigan’s writing than this suggests. As Bokinsky asserts, it is more an illustration of the cognitive method itself – Brautigan “looks at life in terms of analogies”, “one form of experience, or one particular observation, is like something else” (97). Cross-reference is how he, and how we all, “impose […] order on the world’s chaos […] giving meaning to the meaningless” (97). The author’s sensory inhibition represents, in fact, an attempt to redefine the concepts of the autobiographical or impersonal text, to challenge the very purpose of the written form itself.

Brautigan’s work, when taken as a whole, is entirely autobiographical, but in the truest sense of the term. The texts do not recount the events of his life in a linear or synchronous manner, but engage the reader instead with the very fabric of the author’s awareness: how it engages with the physical world, how it assimilates the information being fed to it via its senses, and how it constructs meaning from this raw data through an application of previous experience and knowledge. Elements of the author’s own past emerge as he brings these preconceptions into play and strives to impose order to this haphazard stream of consciousness. Because these elements are never explicitly rationalised, however, they retain a distinctly disembodied character which is entirely in keeping with the objectivity inherent in Brautigan’s model of perception. In essence, his novels are all autobiographies of the present tense in which the personal history of their author is but an indistinguishable element in the much more elaborate fabric of concurrent awareness. It is therefore difficult to find the validity in Terence Malley’s assertion that Brautigan is “curiously elusive” (18), when in fact he seems anything but. “I was about seventeen” claims the narrator of ‘1/3, 1/3, 1/3′, “I was about seventeen and made lonely and strange by that Pacific Northwest of so many years ago” (Revenge 10). He does not elaborate on what exactly it was about the Pacific Northwest that made him this way, but the reasons do not matter in the context of what the author is trying to convey here. Consciousness exists only in the present: it may recall previous instances of its existence, previous present moments that it has moved through and beyond, but these are no more than mere components in the myriad of influences that inform its current state of being. It is this astounding convergence of impulses and interpretations that constitute the current moment that interests Brautigan. For him, this is the essence of the human condition that must be set down and expressed, and quickly before it passes, “so the wind won’t blow it all away” like so much “dust” (So 49).



If you’re reading this you’ll have noticed already that I decided to revamp the blog a bit. Don’t know why it never occurred to me before but suddenly, this afternoon, ‘Neil Schiller’s Writing Pages’ seemed like the shittest blog title ever. So I’ve renamed it ‘Twenty-Two B’ after the Kepler planet. The random stuff I stick on here is pretty much like visiting planet Schiller, so it seemed to fit somehow.



<< NOT Kepler 22b, just what some bloke thinks it might possibly look a bit like…



Anyway, yeah, new theme, new photo from my amateur stock collection. I like it actually, it looks alright…

The New Libertines in Manchester

And just to prove that this blog is sometimes about writing as well I thought I’d put up a post about this event. Dan Holloway, a great writer and a thoroughly nice bloke, is putting on one of the New Libertines shows he sometimes does – showcasing new writing and underground writing – in Manchester on 23rd January. I’m personally quite excited about this as usually these shows take place down south and I’ve never made it to one before. But this time they’ve ventured up North to brave the bracing winds and weather we have up here. Looks like a great lineup, details can be found on Dan’s Eight Cuts site here.

Wednesday 7th December

Launch of the competition anthology for Pulp Idol 2011 on Wednesday. Will be available in paperback and for Kindle from then. Names out of a hat for readers on the night and mine came out, so I’ll be reading from the edited and slightly reworked first chapter of Hinterland.

It’s being held at Studio 2, Parr Street, Liverpool, L1 4JN – 6.30 to 8.30. Further details here on Facebook.


I’m back. Kind of. I found out last night that I’ve (finally) passed my PhD which means with that Damoclean sword removed from over my head I can get on with the rest of my life and probably start writing again. I’m also going to stick a few more bits of the thesis up here too – to ease me back into it. And to purge the damn thing from my system. So today, we have chapter three – Pastiche and Postmodernism. Tomorrow, or later in the week, I’ll be adding chapters four and five: A Postmodernist Model of Time and Zen and the Art of Richard Brautigan.

Why no chapter two? Well, I don’t think it’s as interesting. Same with chapters six to eight. I’m probably going to try and get the thing published at some point so I’ll just put the better bits here as teasers for those people interested in that sort of thing. (After eight years I’m not even entirely sure I’d categorise myself anymore as someone ‘interested in that sort of thing)…

Stupid Promo Superhits (The Best of)

You know, the first time I stuck up a stupid promo on Amazon I came away feeling a bit chastened by the way it divided opinion. And I vowed not to do it again. Then, after a few months of having even my most inane and insipid comments voted down and objected to, I came to the conclusion that actually it doesn’t matter what I say, it won’t please everyone. With that in mind I re-entered the fray. I also figured, with no real upturn in sales and with no publisher to censor me, the least I should do is enjoy myself a little bit. And bizzarely, not one of the subsequent ones has generated anywhere near the amount of ire that first one did. With this in mind, I now present the official Best Of album of Schiller’s stupid promo threads.

Track 1: Woud anyone like to reed are books?

Track 2: April 30th is international ‘read a depressing short story’ in the bath or in the dark day

Track 3: Warning – ridiculous, stupid Infomercial Promo Thread

Track 4: Please Help the Writers

Track 5: The BEST three books on kindle (featuring Stavrogin on guest vocals)

BONUS TRACK 1, previously only available as a B-Side – Spam-post

“original and brand-new kindle book products for your first choose.do you want to get short stories with fast shipping?do you want to get witch novels at cheapest price?do you want to get items with best service?let’s go to click and browse–dodgybooks.com
Email: [dodgybloke@spamaddress.com]
paypal is not acceptable!one click fine is.off me am now long time to learn english good”

BONUS TRACK 2, the as yet unreleased (but will almost certainly be the next single) – Help – looking for a book, and a Backlight, and a collection-organising monkey slave

“First of all, can anyone help me find this book? I’ve been wracking my brains for ages about it. All the info I have, which I know is not a lot to go on, is that it’s called Ljubljana Witch and was written by a bloke called Stavrogin. I read it days and days ago and I know there was a bloke in it, and a witch, and a city I couldn’t pronounce the name of. I remember reading it in the garden of this house I still live in, back when I was about a week younger. It was wonderful and has always stayed with me. Does anyone have any ideas? Does Amazon even stock this book? I know it’s a long shot but hopefully someone will recognise it from the vague memories I have…

Also, while I’m here, can anyone tell me if Kindle has a backlight? I’ve been searching for it on all the menus and have unscrewed the back cover to see if it’s stuck inside. Will this invalidate my warranty? When I screwed it back together I accidently trapped a fruit pastel in there and now all my books have a sugary red glow to them. I need the light to be able to pierce through the gloom and darkness of this book I’m reading – Oblivious by Neil Schiller. It’s really good, I’m told, and has been in the top 9,981 of the Kindle store for 6 months now. Wow, it must be good then if 9,981 people have read it. I really want to give it a go as someone said it was (almost) long listed for the Book Manner award. Or it might have been in that Punch and Judy book club thing.

I was going to ask as well if anyone knew how I can organise my books into ever changing collections that psychically predict my mood – but I’ve just found out that’s been requested for the next generation device so I’ll have to wait until then I guess. But hopefully they’ll also take those terrible screensavers of dead people off as well. Agatha who? And Steinbeck – what’s the point of having a picture of the bloke who founded a coffee shop on there? I don’t get it.”

Book Trailer

Everyone else has a book trailer. It’s taken me about two months to work out how to do one without having any film footage. So here’s my first attempt. Er, yeah, it’s ok, DIY ethics at their most basic…