Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Michael McClure again, again

Aloud, over the week, we read In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. I wish I could fervently recommend it to you, long having counted it among books I loved. But I can only recommend it without my usual more fierce recommendation where I get militant and emotionally upset if you reply, noncommittally, "Maybe...". 

Nevertheless, there is still something wonderful about it within its scattering of flaws. Not least, after about 15 years of a culture well steeped in post apocalyptic fantasy/Sci fi narratives, where something vaguely like magic, or not, has emerged in a world that is suspiciously or specifically built on the ruins of our own, it is a surprise to find that Richard Brautigan seems to have fashioned one of these post apocalypse narratives in the mid sixties, under everyone's noses, about forty years ahead of time. Elements like the ever changing town of iDeath, that has rules we can't understand, The Forgotten Works, where old things are endlessly piled up, tainted and mostly useless, community factions, and a self contained semi rural community, fit neatly with probably a hundred books I could pull off the shelves of my library, if you'll just give me half an hour to look, and watch the front desk for me, and promise to check them all out and write a doctoral thesis based on my findings. When I read this book as young man the context wasn't available to me for understanding it as an adventurous genre take because the genre did not yet properly exist

This is an amazing trick. 

I hope somehow I am writing some kind of blog of the future now. Check with me in forty years.

Among the small pleasures of In Watermelon Sugar was getting to the end and seeing that it was dedicated in part to my own College English Teacher! 

I dedicate this post to my College English Teacher, who seemed to like my work quite a bit, based on almost nothing, and one day took me aside to say, with mysterious vision and passion, in 1987, "You must write a blog!"

Of course, blogs didn't exist. He must have learned that trick from his old friend Richard Brautigan. 


  1. When you recommended Fforde, I was dubious...and I quickly read all (at least, most) of his books. Should I trust today's blog and try another new author?

    1. No, probably not. This would be in the realm of nearly experimental, almost poetic writing. Though it is full of lovely flourishes and a unique and sometimes very funny, almost absurdist sensibility, it is by no means a plot driven, conventional novel. And though its vision is one part ahead of its time, wonderfully written, and creative, it is also another part saddled with some off-putting, dated gender politics.

      So only if all this complexity interests you. It's nowhere near as fun as Fforde. Did you ever read the detective "Nursery Crimes" novels by him (only two!). Those are fantastic. How about the YA Last Dragonslayer books?


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