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Ebay filed a lawsuit against Amazon Wednesday, saying the online retail giant used eBay's messaging system to recruit its sellers. The Spokane City Council is considering whether to limit federal agents from looking for people in non-public areas of city property who are living in the country illegally.
Election officials in Washington continue to bolster the state's elections systems against cyber threats that could disrupt voting or cause citizens to lose faith in the results.
Wednesday, October 17 2: A judge has ruled a political consultant must disclose unfavorable polling results on Seattle's controversial head tax, and the city must turn over a cache of council members' emails and other records that A judge has ruled a political consultant must disclose unfavorable polling results on Seattle's controversial head tax, and the city must turn over a cache of council members' emails and other records that City Friday, October 19 7: The Latest on a youth climate change lawsuit against U.
A judge has dismissed a suit brought by the National Rifle Association against Seattle's new gun-storage law. A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the National Rifle Association against Seattle's new gun-storage law. An outbreak of the chickenpox at a southwestern Washington elementary school could keep dozens of students out of class for several weeks. Two Central Washington University students have died in what police say was an accidental shooting followed by a suicide.
Friday, October 19 4: President Donald Trump has ordered the government to streamline regulations that he says are hindering work on four major water projects in the western United States. Friday, October 19 1: A Washington man faces charges of killing his wife by lacing her ice cream with a lethal dose of pain medication.
Friday, October 19 Clark College in Vancouver will close Monday in response to a planned campus demonstration by right-wing group Patriot Prayer. Several Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Seattle church, starting a small fire outside.
Three people wound up in the hospital when their car got rear-ended by a King County Metro bus. Law enforcement officers recovered a male body found floating in the water off South Kitsap, Washington. Friday, October 19 5: Authorities say a man in his 40s suffered a medical event and died in a fall on Mount St.
A Washington state man convicted of gunning down a stranger was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Authorities are searching for a suspect after a woman reported a man tried to sexually assault her at a public park north of Seattle.
Thursday, October 18 1: Authorities in Seattle temporarily closed a street after dozens of large metal balls spilled from a truck and cascaded down the street, damaging several cars. Authorities in Seattle temporarily closed a street after motorists were stunned by dozens of large metal balls that spilled out of a truck and cascaded down the street, damaging several cars.
Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen invested large sums in technology ventures, research projects and philanthropy, some of it eclectic and highly speculative. Thursday, October 18 4: Calls to breach four hydroelectric dams in Washington state have grown louder in recent months as the plight of the critically endangered Northwest orcas has captured global attention.
A federal court has ruled that the U. Environmental Protection Agency must come up with a plan to protect salmon from warm water temperatures, which can be fatal for the fish species. Thursday, October 18 2: Prosecutors have charged a man with shooting a muzzled, leashed dog at a Washington park. A split Washington Supreme Court has ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional. State and local health officials are investigating a possible sixth case of a rare nervous system disorder that causes sudden limb paralysis in children.
Federal prosecutors have charged an upper level Microsoft director with five counts of wire fraud. Thursday, October 18 A window washer fell to his death while cleaning the downtown branch of the Spokane Public Library.
Thursday, October 18 6: Jay Inslee has approved a new solar energy project in central Washington. Canada's decision to legalize marijuana could influence other countries as they mull whether to end their own bans on the drug. The Latest on the debate in Washington's 8th Congressional District all times local: A Washington state man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for causing a deadly collision at a Mount Vernon intersection.
A federal judge has denied a request to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit that claims an employee of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was removed from her position after she declined to make changes to an Wednesday, October 17 1: Washington state transportation commissioners have approved toll amounts for the Highway 99 tunnel in Seattle. Democratic contenders in Washington's most competitive midterm congressional races have bested their Republican rivals in campaign fundraising over the past few months.
Eight Washington state agencies will begin buying some of its electricity from wind or solar projects built in Washington state in the next several years. Tuesday, October 16 4: The Astoria City Council has taken a step toward cracking down on motorists who illegally park near "The Goonies" house. The Army Corps of Engineers has revived an environmental analysis of a controversial coal-export project nearly a year after Washington state regulators denied the project a key permit.
Tuesday, October 16 2: The first-ever child pornography suspect named to the FBI's Most Wanted list cashed out his life savings and was fleeing law enforcement on a bus traveling across Montana last year when another passenger The first-ever child pornography suspect named to the FBI's Most Wanted list cashed out his life savings and was fleeing law enforcement on a bus traveling across Montana last year when another passenger noticed child Tuesday, October 16 1: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says he will crack down on "street brawls" in Portland after a weekend protest turned into a fight between right-wing Patriot Prayer members and left-wing counter-demonstrators.
Tuesday, October 16 New research suggests obesity surgery may dramatically lower the danger of heart attacks and strokes in people with diabetes. The study reinforces evidence that the benefits of stomach-shrinking surgery extend The study reinforces evidence that the benefits of stomach-shrinking surgery extend beyond Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates before becoming a billionaire philanthropist, has died.
Forest Service and Snohomish County have installed a new pay phone in a scenic area of Washington state where cellphone service is unreliable. Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates, has died. A year-old Washington state man is accused of fatally stabbing another Washington man in Alaska. Monday, October 15 5: Seattle officials say the Trump administration has agreed to give grant money to the city after threatening to withhold it in retaliation for its immigration policies.
Monday, October 15 4: The latest campaign finance report for eastern Washington's U. House seat shows that Republican U. Monday, October 15 1: Two German shepherds from the Spokane area will receive a national award from an insurance company after they survived being trapped in a grain silo for 21 days. A year-old man was killed t after the pickup truck he was driving lost control on Interstate 5 in Vancouver, Washington, hit a barrier and then continued to roll over.
An early morning fire has forced the evacuation of the Suncadia Lodge resort hotel in Washington state. A woman accused of fatally shooting a Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, man in Colfax, Washington, has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. Weather forecasters say strong winds are expected to blow volcanic ash that's on Mount St.
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We know you have many choices and we've looked at nearly all of them and we would certainly warn you against the escorts as an alternative to backpage and Craigslist. We've joined several of them as well. Some of them had weird blue markings on the shoulders and down the arms of their suits like a brand-new blood system.
There were two German police dogs playing around the frog people. The dogs were not wearing black rubber suits and I did not see any suits lying on the beach for them.
Perhaps their suits were behind a rock. A frog man was floating on his back in the surf, eating a slice of watermelon. He swirled and eddied with the tide. A lot of their equipment was leaning against a large theater-like rock that would have given Prometheus a run for his money. There were some yellow oxygen tanks lying next to the rock.
They looked like flowers. The frog people changed into a half-circle and then two of them ran into the sea and turned back to throw pieces of watermelon at the others and two of them started wrestling on the shore in the sand and the dogs were barking around them.
The girls were very pretty in their poured-on black rubber suits and gentle clowning hats. Eating watermelon, they sparkled like jewels in the crown of California. First Published Kulchur , no.
Published in New York, New York spring issue 1 through winter issue 20 and offered serious commentary or criticism about literature, film, politics, and music. Charles Olson, Gilbert Sorrentino, A. Spellman, and Bill Berks. Authors include Allen Ginsberg "The Change: The front cover photograph was taken from Andy Warhol's movie The Kiss , 54 minutes. Lita Hornick, editor, recounts the contents saying that in Kulchur 13 , "Richard Brautigan, then a relatively unknown writer, contributed a characteristic piece of fiction called "The Post Offices of Eastern Oregon" Hornick.
First Published Jeopardy , no. First Published "Little Memoirs: Three Tales by Richard Brautigan. First Published Vogue , 1 January , p. A story about Brautigan's impoverished childhood in the Pacific Northwest. First Published Nice , vol. Published in Brightlingsea, Essex, England, Edited by Thomas Clark. Nice is the tenth in a series of issues, each described as "a one shot magazine," each edited by Clark and published as "Vol.
Clark apparently solicited this story for his magazine. In a letter to Clark, dated September 7, , Brautigan thanks him for his postcard the request for a submission? The dedication for this story reads: The couple lived together at three different addresses: Photographer Erik Weber photographed them together. Brian Nation lived nearby and provides an account of his relationship with Brautigan and Meissner. First Published Now Now , no.
Counterculture magazine published in San Francisco, California, by Ari Publications from issue 1 to issue 3. Brautigan began this piece in March It deals with his general sense of lack of attachment in his life at the time.
Interestingly, there is no self-pity. Now Now was edited by Charles Plymell who said, "I sat with Richard Brautigan in some of the new head shops and discussed the scene. He had a sense of what the new generation liked to hear.
I took some of his poems to publish in an issue of Now magazine It was the time of nude parties and free love, when women's bodies were painted on. The last time I saw Richard Brautigan was at such a party" Plymell Plymell also printed the first issues of Zap comic with illustrations by Robert Crumb. First Published Sum , no. Subtitled "A Newsletter of Current Workings.
Selected Reprints A Poetry Folio: East Wind Printers, Limited Edition of copies Broadside; The collection was contained in a folio-sized folder. The other nine similiarly-sized broadsides were all illustrated by Correll and signed by him and their respective authors except for David Meltzer who refused to sign his contribution. The other nine broadsides are James R. First Published Coyote's Journal , no. Edited by James Koller and Edward van Aelstyn.
Reprinted Grosseteste Review , vol. Published in Lincoln, England. Reprinted International Times , no. London underground magazine started by Barry Miles. Featured an illustration by "Yellow Pig. Contents include a pullout paranoia board game, a full-page photograph of Jim Morrison, and a review of a Yoko Ono film. First Published Solotaroff, Theodore, editor.
The inspiration for this story came in a telephone call to Virginia Alder , Brautigan's first wife, in the fall of regarding the death of her father, Grover Cleveland Alder, in Los Angeles, California. Virginia was not in the apartment and Brautigan took the call. When she returned, Brautigan told her of her father's death that afternoon. Nearly ten years later, in the last weeks of , Brautigan wrote of that afternoon in , and chronicled the life of his father in law in thirty-three short, numbered passages.
Reviews for Revenge of the Lawn are detailed below. See also reviews of Brautigan's collected works , and General Reviews for commentary about Brautigan's work and his place in American literature. The full text of this review reads, "Using a tone of sophisticated amusement, Brautigan combines elements of autobiography with fictional characters and situations in a montage of slight but diverting pieces set in the Pacific Northwest and California.
Reprinted from Playboy , Ramparts , TriQuarterly , Esquire , and other periodicals the tales vary in length from one to several paragraphs to a few pages and narrate youthful hunting experiences, explore daily anxieties of living, and depict a wide variety of unique individuals; Brautigan's last work, a novel, was The Abortion: The full text of this review reads.
There are some nice ideas, like the children of Tacoma, Washington, going to war in , or the amours of his grandmother the bootlegger, or his childhood association of a slaughterhouse and 'winning the war,' but they function more as pretext than a reason for writing—for laying out little plots of mood with a stake here and there to hitch up a wag-tailed simile.
Okay so long as the fey inspiration lasts, but this is Brautigan at his most puppy-mannered and inconsequential, the sun-dazed crickbank raconteur who'd perhaps do better to nap and begin afresh. The full text of this review reads, "Short pieces, some no more than stray clippings and pairings.
The shortest reads 'It's very hard to live in studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin. As in Trout Fishing in America , the mood is a fey free-wheeling in which old history, lost landscapes and the ghosts of writers as disparate as [Edgar Allan] Poe and [William] Saroyan float in iridescent bubbles that burst with a melancholy pop. There's dross too, for Brautigan can be tricky as well as unique. The full text of this review reads, "Stories from by the gentle poet of small souls in torment.
The full text of this review reads, "A collection of short stories and brief sketches some of them published before in various magazines this book is like an album of snapshots.
Richard Brautigan, author of The Abortion , has keen observing eyes and he records life like a camera. His stories are very short, vivid and honest. Most of them are biographic, including some reminiscences of his Pacific coast childhood. The title story is a very funny anecdote about his grandmother. But most of the stories are thoughts about and glimpses of everyday life. This is a delightful collection, simple, honest, and charming.
The full text of this review reads, "Here is a collection of short stories to delight Brautigan fans and demonstrate why his status has changed from writers' writer to American folk hero. Some of the subjects here are a childhood in the Pacific Northwest; hunting and fishing; the down-and-outness of the unheralded writer's life in San Francisco during the Fifties; relationships with women. But, as in all his work, these are only settings for his perceptions about how it feels to be alone in America, as child, lover, husband, writer, and person-in-residence in a vast world made more specific and less lonely by small madnesses and imagined affinities.
The simplicity is sometimes cloying and the nostalgia sometimes veers into the sentimental, but these are small faults if you enjoy Brautigan, as I do, enormously; if you don't, they'll madden you and make him seem dead-pan precocious and wildly self-indulgent. If you're a woman, you will also be maddened by the exaggerated Beat Generation attitudes toward women.
Many of Brautigan's books come embellished with a photograph of a different and dazzlingly beautiful woman as the front of the jacket. How would Brautigan feel about a woman writer who reversed this custom—peculiar, no?
The last is a serious reservation, but this review is meant to be an endorsement. My own favorite in this collection is "Complicated Banking Problems," in which anyone who has ever felt the apolitical need to bomb his local bank as a perfectly individual response to insanity rendered will find immense consolation.
The prose is of a spareness that can be mistaken for slightness or fragility, it's neither: Brautigan is hardly a "heavy" writer, but he's no lightweight. If you haven't read him yet, this collection is a good place to start. Says some of the "easy vignettes" do not work. But some "make some of us feel he's found a better answer to being alive here and now than we have. Notes that poetry is generally not considered "real" unless it is materially useful.
Says Brautigan implies the whole country has "become so confused about what's real that it has not only lost the ability to distinguish reality from illusion, but it trades on their confusion. Comments on the style and themes of Brautigan's various works. Says Brautigan, whether writing poetry, novels, or short stories, is essentially an anecdotist, pushing bizarre indicents and eccentric people to the brink of caricature.
Says the stories in Revenge of the Lawn exhibit considerable range and variety. Says many of the pieces in this collection are "extremely delicate in what they manage to convey, and leave you with the impression of having read a poem rather than a page or two of prose.
The full text of this review reads, "One of the many good things that reading fiction can do for you is to provide an escape from the oppressively familiar limits of your own imagination. Richard Brautigan's prose is perfectly suited to this purpose. Revenge of the Lawn is a collection of stories which mixes fantasy a man who replaces the plumbing in his house with poetry, for example with autobiographical reminiscences. The reminiscences, whether imaginary or not, have a genuine ring to them and yet at the same time often defy reality with complete success.
This combination works better than the unalloyed fantasy of one of Mr. Brautigan's earlier books, an exhausting fairy-tale called In Watermelon Sugar: The best of these pieces record some trivial event, going to visit a girl or standing in line at the bank: Brautigan can do with such material is a revelation.
One of them records a meeting with a hippy girl whom the narrator might have made a pass at if he had been able to decide he wanted to more quickly — that is all there is to it, and it is quite enough. Revenge of the Lawn seems to me to have more good things in it than the earlier Trout Fishing in America which it resembles, but perhaps one needs time to get accustomed to Mr, Brautigan's original and charming view of the world.
Argues that Brautigan is "essentially a miniaturist—seizing small and often isolated moments of experience which illuminate for him some central truth of humanity or inhumanity. But it is questionable whether his stories should be called stories or something else, like "vignette, anecdote, tale, parable, impression, sketch.
Says that "from the brillant novels" A Confederate General from Big Sur , Trout Fishing in America , and In Watermelon Sugar to "this first collection," Revenge of the Lawn , Brautigan writes about characters who are trout fishermen "fishing for cool, freezing away every psychic ache, or looking for that cold, hard alloy Brautigan calls 'trout steel'.
Some of these stories are serene accounts of misery, others are shallow nothings, still others show people in the throes of learning that living can be nothing but losing. But every one of them is an encounter with an imagination so radical, so powerful, it can fade the very experience of anguish into a sweet mirage.
Suffering makes Brautigan people gentle and cold; humiliation turns them harder than trout steel and meek as fish. For Brautigan people fade away from competitive strife, from those psychic battles, those wars for power and position that churn out losers ever more cruelly. And withdrawal and protection are their only answers to America's bad report cards and worse vibrations. Going underwater, underground, inside, Brautigan people live with no passionate attachment to anyone or any place and never permit themselves to feel a thing.
Brautigan's rebels always revolt by creating an insulated world of their own. But they can alchemize themselves into trout people and live with steely passions and diluted hopes. Brautigan makes cutting out your heart the only way to endure. Revenge of the Lawn is not Brautigan's best book. But it has the Brautigan magic—the verbal wildness, the emptiness, the passive force of people who have gone beyond winning or losing to an absolute poetry of survival.
Reprinted Contemporary Literary Criticism. Edited by Carolyn Riley. Gale Research Company, Don't waste your time trying to be involved—with what he does or doesn't do. Chapter 4 discusses Brautigan as a "counterculture" writer drawing examples from Revenge of the Lawn. Says there are two Richard Brautigans. One is commercial property and a created cultural hero, directly connected to "the discovery of underground youth culture by private business and later by the American public.
Innocence runs like a stream through this book and is almost always deflected off some modern discomfort or horror. The horrors take many forms. But whatever forms appear, a note of death and loss pervades.
More than anything else, what unifies Richard Brautigan's work and gives it appeal is his sensibility. With Revenge of the Lawn , his sensibility suggests that life is brief and bittersweet, happiness is ephemeral, and fiction, therefore, should bear witness to this condition.
Furthermore, fiction should go beyond incorporating this condition; it should strive to resist it and attempt to arrest entropy and the forces of attrition.
Thus his fictions become brief capsules in which one, two, or three instants of perception, mental metaphorical leaps, can permit beauty to hold the forces of death temporarily at bay. It is exactly this tone and sensibility that make Brautigan a unique writer and one of special attractions for younger readers. His particular contribution to the incipient counterculture is to offer instances of evasion, examples of how a harsh world can be held at a distance or transformed.
Responses Betts, Richard A. Says, "Hicks' chapter on the writers associated with the counterculure, however, is much less successful, in part because, as he admits, relevant examples are few and undistinguished. His case here is further undermined by his own reservations about the works of Richard Brautigan and the novel of Marge Piercy which he chooses to examine in detail.
Says, "Jack Hicks contends there is no consistent or dominate style in contemporary American fiction; rather, there are separate communities in the country, each with its own mode of fiction. Says, "Hick's insights into the works are sharp. His brief tracing of each author's life in relation to the works suggests understandings otherwise unattainable. This critical work clearly accomplishes what it sets out to do.
It should not be missed. Says Brautigan emerges as a "moralist of post-modernism. It has little to say that is new or fresh; its judgements are open to question; it lapses often into a banality and repetition. But its chief failure involves what can only be regarded as a form of surrender, a refusal to test it own assumptions and the implicit claims of the material it surveys—a refusal, that is to say, of the function of criticism at this or any other time.
Says, in his only mention of Brautigan, "Hicks attempts to discuss what he perceives as the dominant voices in contemporary American fiction, particularly in works by writers who have come to prominence since He argues that four distinct elements can be singled out: While this general splitting up of recent American fiction and the choice of authors are rather debatable and certainly unbalanced, Hicks's chapter on Kosinski—with almost one-hundred pages by far the longest of his book—is in some ways the most comprehensive, incisive, and stimulating study of Kosinski's work among the four books reviewed here" Says "Winter Rug," a story included in Revenge of the Lawn reveals a preoccupation with death central to Brautigan's fiction.
Says Brautigan, as a postmodern writer, is noted for the vitality and range of his works and uses several stories from Revenge of the Lawn to support this claim. Concludes by saying, "Brautigan's genius lies in his ability to portray age old themes of human alienation, social envy, broken dreams, and loneliness in completely new presentations. Almost each story in Revenge of the Lawn works toward awakening us to a recognition of ourselves, but they do not jolt us into that awakening like a huge pill does as it asserts its presence in its slow descent through the esophagus; on the contrary, these stories are coated with the gentle voice of the author and tempered with a human sensibility that, while drawing our attention to the painful world around us, does not drown us in sentimentality.
Brautigan accomplishes his task by means of brilliant uncommon images, subtle wit, and magically apt metaphors. Uniqueness of images often created with the greatest economy of language is a mark of Brautigan's linguistic fortitude.
Brautigan offers the notion that depth of observation, the creation of magical images out of trivial, mundane, everyday objects combined with the frugality of language and presented with stylistic ease within an open-ended free flowing structure are the ingredients of a new aesthetics. The full text of this review reads, "In this collection of 62 short stories written over the last eight years, Brautigan muses over memories of his childhood, weaves strange metaphors through fragments of reality, and searches with often amusing accuracy for the essence of a moment.
The memories are of a bootlegging grandmother, drunken geese, games of war, and children huddled in the rain. There are many others. And beneath their surface artlessness is an awareness of the poetry of memory in which hard-edged images are awash with the vibrations of dreams.
In other pieces Brautigan drops images and metaphors onto situations and watches them transform the objective into the personal, the ordinary into fantasy. However, it is in the simple capturing of a moment that Brautigan does some of his best and his worst work. Though these brief scenes occasionally sink into sweetness, many have the refreshing clarity and rigorous simplicity that emerge from a poet's just watching something happen.
These stories suggest new dimensions in the forms of short fiction and substantiate both Brautigan's widespread popularity and his growing critical reputation.
The full text of this review reads, "These are brief sketches from the notebooks of one of the most exciting writing talents now producing. Some of the stories are as short as three lines; some are carefully detailed and polished works of art.
One of these days Brautigan will emerge as a big seller; while this book isn't it, the growing readership will dig it. The first critical survey of Brautigan's work through One of several reference books focusing on Brautigan. Mclennan's blog entry at rob mclennan's blog website. The full text of this review reads, "Striking, breathtaking, and funny images in short stories by a master novelist, whose relaxed and natural attitude toward life finds a responsive YA [young adult] readership.
Says, "His memoirs of his days as a protege and colleague of Ken Kesey, Richard Brautigan, Wallace Stegner, Bernard Malamud and others are devoid of braggadocio and full of bemused affection. A review written as a dialogue between the two authors. Defines escape literature as "an entrance to some place else" and says Brautigan is "one of the most original, whimsical escape artists in contemporary American literature.
Says that voice is evident in Revenge of the Lawn. There are occasional notes of tinny sentimentality and studied coyness. But there are also funny fantasies casually conjured out of sad realities. Brautigan, a self-confessed minor poet, exploits his limitations to the fullest. Another original, poet Gary Snyder, has said that Brautigan's work consists of "flowers for the void.
The reference to Brautigan reads, "The stories in Revenge of the Lawn are extremely short—one of them is only fifty words long—yet concrete and at the same time mysterious, like prose poems or modern folk tales. They are curious fragments which will not, I should think, do more for Richard Brautigan's considerable reputation than if an opera star were to tape the bits and pieces she interestingly hums in her bath.
Not quite surrealism, though far from plain fun, with a bit of pioneer larkishness and a preoccupation with cinema, dreams, and children. The full text of this review reads, "Ranging from four or five pages to several paragraphs or even a few sentences, these short short stories about love, life and people are as charming, fresh, and fascinating as Brautigan's novels.
Brautigan has a marvelous feeling for and command of language: And YA's [young adults]—if not their parents—are sure to respond to his relaxed, natural attitude toward life and sex. The full text of the reference to Brautigan reads ".
Richard Brautigan Revenge of the Lawn —sixty-two of them in pages, a sampler which should allow doubters to make up their minds quickly one way or the other. Calls the collection "a diary of sorts. These sixty-two stories don't necessarily come off like crafted masterworks as much as a series of fictional journal entries taking us through the eight years it took to write them. Even fans of traditionally plotted stories will have to admit that the end result is feeling and connection, and that's the point of Brautigan's work in Revenge of the Lawn.
Calls the book "the height of fashion right now. Revenge of the Lawn. But Brautigan's made of sterner stuff, down under. His basic mode is whimsy, about anything form childhood dreams to crippled old winos, but his laying-on is done with notable skill and control. Since he is better over short stretches than across such Niagaras as In Watermelon Sugar and The Abortion , this book, a collection of some 62 short stretches, displays him in top form.
The titles alone will set an aficionado's pulse pounding: The following material may be protected under copyright. It is used here for archival, educational, and research purposes, not for commercial gain or public distribution. Individuals using this material should respect the author's rights in any use of this material.
Most mornings, there was a guy named Dick in the next booth, reading The New York Times and chuckling over little items he found in it that amused him. As far as I knew, he didn't work, this Dick, and I wondered why he got up so early in the morning. Perhaps he didn't mind getting up because there was no job waiting for him to buckle down to, or maybe he went back to sleep after he finished chuckling over The New York Times.
Whatever his reason, I know I both envied and resented his freedom, I would have liked to have leisure and the detachment to chuckle over The Times too—but I had to hustle off to work.
This is how I feel about Richard Brautigan's stories. In fact, what I've just written sounds like a Brautigan story, right down to the inexplicable coincidence of both characters being named Richard. Musing About Life Brautigan sounds like a relaxed observer with all the time in the world to muse over the curious little turns life takes. Overheard remarks, incongruous occurrences, sense impressions, the shape of buildings or the look of people, the color of the weather—all this mixed in with memories, girls, places, jotting in a notebook, made by a man with nothing pressing on him, no compulsion to put it all in perspective, interpret it, drive it to the wall and ask "What does it mean?
He can get 62 "stories" into a page book that begins with Page 9. The shortest is three lines and the longest is seven pages. As you can see, there isn't much room for deep probing or sustained interaction. No sweat, man, you take it as it comes. Don't look at it too hard or you'll see beyond the moment, the two-penny epiphany, to the fact that these are just postcards, sent by somebody who's on vacation from life, a vacation he took a bus to, carrying nothing but a knapsack.
This doesn't mean that Revenge of the Lawn isn't fun to read. There are lots of nice things. A man who "looked if life had given him an endless stream of two-timing girlfriends, five-day drunks and cars with bad transmissions.
A man who is so fond of poems that he decides to take the plumbing out of his house and replace it with poetry. A sudden sight, on a beach near Monterey, of a group of "frog people," boys and girls dressed in black rubber suits with yellow oxygen tanks, eating watermelon. There's a pleasant vignette of Brautigan watching a guy in the City Lights book store trying to make up his mind to buy one of his books.
Finally be tosses a coin and the book loses. A really sweet piece—yes, I mean sweet—describes last night's girl getting dressed in the morning, disappearing, in due time, into her clothes and becoming a wholly adventure. There's another girl "sleeping in a very well-built blond way," until suddenly she starts to get up.
Tinting With Literature Brautigan has a good feeling for the American past, for small towns and the erosion of life styles, that is surprising in a man only in his middle thirties.
But sometimes he's not satisfied to leave these quaint old snapshots alone and tries to tint them with literature. His longest story is about a boy going hunting in Oregon with his uncle Jarv. They stop in as small town, where Uncle Jarv writes a postcard and the boy stares at a nude Marilyn Monroe calendar on the post office wall. Somebody in the town has shot two bear cubs and a practical joker dresses them up—one in a white silk negligee—and sits them in a car.
From this—the death of the two bears, the masquerade, the negligee, the calendar in the post office—Brautigan reaches all the way out into left field for Marilyn Monroe's suicide, years later, while she is still a cuddling little cub too, dressed up in death like a practical joke.
He does this too often for comfort. A story about a "crazy" old lady who fills her house with vases of flowers ends with a sententious bit of irrelevance: This was a month or two before the German army marched into Poland. Four small children without shoes come out on the porch of the shack to stare silently at him.
It is raining and they are getting soaked, but they stand there, staring, silent. The author then nails up this heavy sign on their porch: He wins some and he loses some. Once in a while a piece will rise to poetry. Others never get beyond easy vignettes, light enough to blow off the page. At its worst, Revenge of the Lawn sounds, simultaneously, like a clumsily written children's book and a pretentious piece of avant-garde impressionism. At his best Brautigan is one of those odd-looking guys with long hair and granny glasses who sees, hears, feels and thinks things that make some of us feel he's found a better answer to being alive here and now than we have.
Dietrich Notes On Contemporary Literature , vol. Brautigan's "Homage to the San Francisco YMCA" is probably best categorized as a fairy tale, containing as it does magical transformations, bewitchment, and a "once upon a time" beginning. But of course it's not the usual fairy tale. For one thing, most fairy tales aren't written for academics. Not that one necessarily needs to be an academic to enjoy this tale, but it helps to know who Michael McClure and Vladimir Mayakovsky are, not to mention Shakespeare, Donne, and Dickinson.
It also helps to know that Wordsworth declared poetry to be the result of "a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" and that from Aristotle on the cathartic theory of literature has been popular with critics. For obviously the hare-brained protagonist of this story has heard something of that sort.
He's heard not only that poetry serves as the conveyer of flowing emotions, but that it serves the reader as a purger of bad feelings. Why else would it occur to him to replace his plumbing with poetry? Perhaps the idea occurred to him after he'd had an emotionally "draining" experience with poetry.
If poetry can drain his spirit of its poisons, why not drain his body as well? This confusion of levels of reality is not surprising in one who profits in insanity.
Our protagonist lives off a pension "that was the result of a 's investment that his grandfather had made in a private insane asylum that was operating quite profitably in Southern California.
For the whole country, Brautigan implies, has become so confused about what's real that it has not only lost the ability to distinguish reality from illusion, but it trades on their confusion. The insane asylum, for example, "was one of those places that do not look like an insane asylum. Unused to reality, ensconced in the never-never land of Pacific Heights, Brautigan's princely patron of poetry naturally misunderstands the uses of poetry.
Nothing is more practical than poetry if spiritual cleansing is what you're after, but if as an American you insist that true practicality consists in administering to one's material needs, then you may push poetry too far. In that material realm, as Auden put it, "poetry makes nothing happen. It is no exaggeration to say that "Christopher Columbus' slight venture sailing West was merely the shadow of a dismal event in the comparison.
Unfortunately, the magical transformations—of the minor poets into a toilet, for example—don't work. Our would-be fairy tale sorcerer is a failure, but typically he blames if on the poetry. Note that "he of course had never met a poet in person. That would have been a little too much. That is, physical beings who just like himself need toilets but who are capable of creating the spiritual contradiction that is poetry would be hard to understand for this one-track mind.
Man's dual nature is beyond the comprehension of the materialistic monomania. But perhaps poetry is a little too insistent in its reality. Once you give poetry the notion that it can serve as literal plumbing, it's hard to convince it otherwise. One of the worst features of the materialist's idea of practicality is that it corrupts even that which is opposed to its values. Installed as literal plumbing, the poetry begins to take itself too literally as a drainer of physical poisons, presuming to be real in a sense it can never be.
Yeats, for example, believed so hard in becoming the golden bird of Byzantium that he sometimes lost track of the physical reality he was trying to escape from, the art reality completely replacing for him material reality. In its insistent reality, poetry is always a little presumptuous in this way. Presumptuous or not, the poetry is right in kicking Brautigan's protagonist down the stairs, for his folly is the opposite of Yeats'. His mad insistence is that poetry cannot be "real" unless it is materially useful; that is, that spiritual values count for nothing unless they can be converted into material values.
Madness is the point here.
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