reading over the edna webster collection of brautigan’s early writings, i am reminded of the humility, grace and subtle sarcasm which encompasses his best work. A love letter from the state insane asylum, ramblings on the nature of james dean as told from a friend’s brief encounter, yearnings on love and life show brautigan in a new light.
His unique imagination seems at once a little less burdened by the hardships of his everyday life, before the bottle and women destroyed much of this early optimism.
Even though, at 21 he seems already to be showing signs of the dirty old, embittered man he was set to become, especially in the poem “song of a sex deviate” :
The Abortion is another favourite, where he recounts the tale of a beautiful woman who comes into his life, with the most beautiful body man could describe in words. He works at this old majestic library, and an unexpected pregnancy results in a trip down to mexico for an abortion. It is a love story, mixed with the decision to rid of a child, and the setting of an old building filled with words.
Dreaming of Babylon I have never come across in print anywhere except for a tiny book exchange in phnom penh, cambodia. It is the detective novel, entrenched with black humour, many graves and a morgue.
I am constantly reminded of the image his daughter describes in her memoir ‘you can’t catch death’ of her father, slouched in his writing chair, hunched over the desk, staring out the window into the sprawling ranch at montana, skulling whiskey and shooting rounds of at the clock on the wall above. brilliance.