Litkicks Message Board Archive

Good, but oversimplified

Posted to WritersAndGenres

Brautigan's stories are entertaining, but you must admit there is more to it than just "life is worth living." He was sort of a west coast absurdist--like the opening of Confederate General at Big Sur where Lee Mellon robs the "rich fairy" and all...humorous and surprising because you think Mellon is going to murder the "fairy" but he doesn't, right? None of his stuff is really PC which is another reason he was probably not part of the "beat elite". His demythologizing of writers such as Henry Miller and Steinbeck is also entertaining--he was an iconoclast.

Was it you that penned the essay on Braugtigan? Complementi. Brautigan had a lyrical, haight-ashbury romantic side to him, and lacked the misogyny of many beatsters, but that is maybe why his stuff seems sort of dated. The little lyrics and jottings seem sort of pointless. The longer prose pieces are to me more satisfying.

You get the sense that ol Bob was a person that had been in love and laid women; like so many authentic writers (like Joyce, Henry Miller, Kerouac hisself) he had shared some quality time with, well, for lack of a better term, whores. Soliciting and then humping a whore is no trivial business. It makes a man of ya, lad.

Not to engage in any word trickery, but I think Brautigan was profoundly distrustful of the American populace and his writings reveal this anti-social recluse mindstate, sort of a literary Unabomber, not necessarily a bad thing. It's the old writer-rebel outcast-outlaw trip but with touches of absurd pathos.

Brautigan did have the conscience of a "realist" as well, and although the neo-beatniks probably would not like to hear it, there is a sort of "Mark Twain on psychedelics" quality to his writing: many depictions of social hypocrisy and authentic feeling for the impoverished and the marginalized as well--no marxist but aware of the shit we all have to go through to survive.