It always takes me ages to catch on to things. It was about 4 years after the (British) Office premiered on TV that I finally got around to watching it. I’d been urged on by friends and read reviews but maybe it was this mass hype that kept me from it. When I lived in Oxford a flatmate had the box set. First an episode, then two the next day and then all the rest in one sitting, and now I’m obsessed and have a re-occurring dream that Ricky Gervais and I are good friends and sit around watching the Science Channel.
So it was with the author Richard Brautigan. A few people, of who’s taste I respect, had mentioned his name. My piano player buddy Cory Gray had left one of his paperbacks in our lounge room to lighten his load before flying back home to Portland. My long time fellow conspirator Mark Monnone (Lucksmiths bass player) had raved about him too.
But these things must happen in their own time.
House sitting a strangers palatial apartment in June last year, I’d do a cursory stroll around their considerable library each morning before heading out into the city. Not really wanting to commit to anything in particular. Just soaking up the comforting warm rays of 200 years of popular fact and fiction.
His name caught my eye from a thin spine between the heftier Bradbury and Brecht so I thumbed it out and turned it over in my hand. And So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away…sounds like a good song title. Reasonably undemanding clocking in at around 100 pages. I took it with me and finished it that day and rushed back to trawl the shelves that night and found two more alphabetically misplaced and read those too (not realising at the time I’d started at his last and was working backwards chronologically).
It really was like listening to music. His childlike lyrical observations made the pages glow. Everything made sense. His sentences were so easy on the eye I’d read and re-read them. His metaphors shouldn’t work but somehow they do. You don’t so much as read them but feel them.
Like with a lot of stuff that appeals to me the whimsy is offset by a deep pathos and melancholy.
I FEEL HORRIBLE. SHE DOESN’T
I feel horrible. She doesn’t
love me and I wander around
like a sowing machine
that’s just finished sewing
a turd to a garbage can lid.
In the months since then I’ve gotten through 4 more of his books but I’ve made myself slow down as I know I’ll soon run out at this rate. You see he died in a lonely room years ago by the bullet of a Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum borrowed from the owner of a Japanese restaurant, fired by his own hand.
And so in 2009 I finally found my favorite author.