Wednesday, October 31, 2007 ... 9:04 AM

by Richard Brautigan

from Revenge of the Lawn

As a child I used to play at Halloween as if I were a sailor and go trick or treating down to the sea in ships. My sack of candy and things were at the wheel and my Halloween mask was sails cutting through a beautiful autumn night with lights on front porches shining like ports of call.

Trickortreat was the captain of our ship, saying, "We are only going to be in this port for a short time. I want all of you to go ashore and have a good time. Just remember we sail on the morning tide." My God, he was right! We sailed on the morning tide.

* * *

All right so this isn't a music post exactly, but all arts aspire to music, yeah? And Richard Brautigan's drunken wee-hour memoirs summon, as well as any prose I think, the same tasty melancholy you hear in a familiar sad song. Lots of songwriters could take a lesson or three from Brautigan's prose.

I sort of worshiped Richard Brautigan when I was in college (R.B. the prose writer; R.B. the poet not as much). When I was about 20 I found his story "Corporal" in a Flash Fiction anthology, and its last sentence felt like a wrecking ball to the chest. In all my reading since that two-page-long story I've mainly hoped to feel again the same pure stunning pain. It's olympian, the emotional acrobatics R.B. pulls off with his bone-naked prose. On a dime he pivots from quirky bitter funny to universally fucking devastating. Devastation is Brautigan's gift, and he smuggles it in a birthday cake, the more unexpectedly to shatter your whole heart. But, you know, to shatter it beautifully.

This little bit of R.B. above is not devastating, but it is sad. When I was 20 I didn't know it was sad. Now I'm 30, an old man, an ancient artifact practically, and reading it for the first time in years I feel this sigh at the end, which I never felt before. It's small and bittersweet as October burning leaves. You can almost inhale it.

Here's more Brautigan stuff for Halloween. I like "Halloween in Denver." The mental somersault ending doesn't work perfectly, but it shouldn't work at all, and that it does as much as it does blows my mind. It sneaks up on your blind side and pinches you a little bit, and it hurts. It reminds me of the many similar disorienting turns in David Lynch's inscrutable but occasionally stunning Inland Empire.

Anyway, happy Halloween folks. More Gillian Welch entries posting soon.



Visited & caught up some. Recently read Brautigan's daughter's memoir about her father; was reminded of how very much I loved the library from The Abortion, where someday I will take my book. Hope life is good, B. K McC.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/07/2008 11:25 PM  

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Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"


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