Sunday, September 7, 2008

August 22 - 30, 2008

Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America
The Pill versus the Springhill Mind Disaster
and In Watermelon Sugar
1967, paperback
14 cards

One thing that has surprised me this year is the number of books, amazing books, that people have recommended to me this year. The thing is though that these recommendations come about much more casually than I anticipate. This book was suggested by Patrick, who a few years ago led me to reading Patricia Bostworth's biography about Diane Arbus, even though it too was mentioned casually. Have you read any of Brautigan's books? If the answer is no, you should. I'd never heard of Brautigan until now, but once I have of course he pops up in the most unexpected places (the book is in the corner of a photograph of The Kills in the New Yorker supplement Fashion Rocks).

Brautigan is not merely a symbol of hipness or rock 'n' roll, he's a writer who commands language, leading it to new heights and possibilities: "glass whiskers of the houses", "a tattered revolution of old blankets", and the way he describes things (the map drawn with dull pencil). Brautigan's writing also resembles life in the way that the little details add up to make the life lived.

Trout Fishing in America is a book title but also a person, a place, and maybe other things I'm forgetting. This multiplicity reminded me of Reena Spaulings- a book, an artist, a gallery owner and a gallery.

The Pill is a collection of poems. My favorites include: Karma Repair Kit, Xerox Candy Bar, Hey Bacon!, It's Raining in Love, To England, The Postman, A Mid-February Sky Dance, December 24 and The Harbor. In Watermelon Sugar could be described as a love story.

Some excerpts:
Trout Fishing in America
-cover photograph and the back cover
2- "It's sandwich time for the poor."
-"Was it Kafka who learned about America by reading the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin..."
4- "glass whiskers of the houses"
8- The Kool-Aid wino- "He looked up at me from underneath a tattered revolution of old blankets."
9- "'The dishes can wait'"
14- map
19- Tom Martin Creek- "It's good to name creeks after people and then later to follow them for a while seeing what they have to offer, what they know and have made of themselves."
22- (bookstore) "I drank coffee and read old books and waited for the year to end."
27- "The last thin in the world he had any use for were children."
31- "'Giraffe races at Kilimanjaro!' he shouted"
38- writing on the back of 1st graders
43- (boards over creek)- "...and the creek flowed over the top of the boards, invited like a postcard to the ocean a thousand miles away."
65- (baby and minnows) "We didn't want her to kill any of them because she was too young."
66- (bed leaning against wall) "It stays there for a month. You get used to seeing it and then you go by one day and it is gone. You wonder where it went."
68 and 70- 208 the cat- last cat in the world
104- "'How much are the birds?' I asked."
111- "The Eskimos live among ice all their lives but have no single word for ice."- M.F. Ashley Montagu, Man: His First Million Years
111 and 112- mayonnaise

The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster
8- Items 1-4
11- Xerox Candy Bar- "Ah, you're just a copy of all the candy bars I've ever eaten."
29- map
30- postcard
46- Hey Bacon!
49- "...I wander around the house like a sewing machine..."
53- being drunk, dinosaurs
58- Detroit Tigers
61- It's Raining in Love
78- "There are doors that want to be free from their hinges to fly with perfect clouds."
80- The Postman
81- A Mid-February Sky Dance
94- "God, I hate eating dinner alone. It's like being dead."
98- December 24
105- The Harbor

In Watermelon Sugar
4- "Just call me whatever is in your mind."
3- the tigers
4- that statue of mirrors
27- "'The heard is something else. Nobody knows what is going to happen,' I said."
28- "We who do not have regular names spend a lot of time by ourselves. It suits us."
33- watermelon sugar
40- hands
57- (note) "...and I threw it away, so not even time could find it."
69- "The Forgotten Works just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. you get the picture. It's a big place, much bigger than we are."
83- "I was so sleepy now that my eyes refused to close. The lids would not budge down. They were statues of eyes."
107- book
110- "'Have you ever read a book?' I said. 'No,' Fred said. 'I haven't but I don't think I'd want to start by reading one about clouds.'"
112- "Everything is reflected in the Statue of Mirrors if you stand there long enough and empty your mind of everything else but the mirrors, and you must be careful not to want anything from the mirrors. They just have to happen."
118- "'Nobody's to blame. She had a broken heart.'"

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