Richard Brautigan Biography
(1935–84), The Return of the Rivers, The Galilee Hitch-Hiker, Lay the Marble Tea
American novelist, short-story writer, and poet, born in Tacoma, Washington. Brautigan came to prominence in the 1960s as a leading exponent of a new society. He lived in San Francisco for many years before moving to Montana at the end of the 1970s. Influenced by the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat writers, he is often remembered as one of the voices of hippy life. He wrote a wide range of early poetry including The Return of the Rivers (c.1957), The Galilee Hitch-Hiker (1958), Lay the Marble Tea (1959), and The Octopus Frontier (1960). His first novel, A Confederate General from Big Sur (1964), was followed by the huge success of Trout Fishing in America (1967), which describes a nostalgic search for the perfect fishing spot, taking one on a quest through a variety of landscapes including San Francisco city parks, Oregon forests, Idaho campingsites, and a Filipino laundry; the failure to reach the goal indicates the degenerate cultural environment of the USA. Watermelon Sugar (1968) portrays life in a commune that has defined its way of life in contradistinction to the social structures of the outside world. His other novels include The Abortion: An Historical Romance (1971), The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western (1974), Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery (1974), Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel (1976), Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel, 1942 (1977), and The Tokyo–Montana Express (1980). Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962–1970 appeared in 1971. Frequently anarchically whimsical in their structures and statements, the novels are marked with understatement and a ‘throwaway’ tone, as they explode the pretensions of middle America. He continued writing poetry about unrestrained sexuality and personal encounters; collections include All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace (1967), The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968), Please Plant This Book (1968, a combination of poems and seed packets), Rommel Drives on deep into Egypt (1970), Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork (1976), and June 30th, June 30th (1978). The early formal playfulness and humour began to give way to an increasingly dark view of American culture as the 1970s progressed, with his final book, So the Wind Won't Blow It Away (1982), appearing shortly before his suicide.