It’s November and I’m only halfway through my goal of fifty books for the year, so yes, I’m looking at the slimmest volumes on the shelf. I tore through this last night before bed and this morning before breakfast. I’m left with bitter feelings about it and almost wish I hadn’t read it. I feel good for having bought it and helping to support Ianthe Brautigan, but the psychic act of reading this book which Richard Brautigan never chose to have published seems cruel and sad.
This is not a novel and it is not poetry. It’s not even a memoir. I think it can be most accurately described as a journal, although he does refer to it as his book. There are snippets from his life told in fragments, all darkly obsessed with death and in particular death by suicide. But this is not enough of a theme to make a collection of writings a coherent work, and it’s so clearly his direct experience to just be embarrassing and more than a little sad.
This is, to my eye, authentic. It’s Brautigan’s voice and Brautigan’s humor. But it didn’t seem like a work meant for others, more a personal journal, perhaps what would have been part of Richard Brautigan’s blog if technology had permitted in 1982. But if he had wanted it published, he certainly had the technology to do so. This had not been submitted to an editor and having read it I doubt he intended to. It reads more like a suicide note than a novel, and reminds me of Brautigan’s genius only in that the end of it was approaching.