So, who's this Richard Brautigan?

Born in Tacoma, Washington and raised in extreme poverty (his family regularly went without food for days on end) it’s no wonder novelist, poet, and short story writer Richard Brautigan had his quirks. 

Moving around the Pacific Northwest for nine years, the family eventually settled in Eugene, Oregon in 1944 and Brautigan graduated from there in 1953, heading to San Francisco for the first time about a year later but returning to Oregon several times due to lack of money. An incident in December 1955 when Brautigan was arrested for throwing a rock through a police-station window so he’d be sent to prison and fed landed him in the Oregon State Hospital, where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and clinical depression, treated with electroconvulsive therapy and released in February 1956. Brautigan spent a brief spell with his mother, stepfather, and siblings in Eugene before moving to San Francisco, where he spent most of the rest of his life apart from spells in in Tokyo and Montana.

In San Francisco Brautigan handed out poetry on the streets and performed at poetry clubs, became involved in the countercultural scene. A Confederate General From Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America were written on a camping trip to southern Idaho with his wife and daughter in 1961, and while A Confederate General from Big Sur went unnoticed after publication, Trout Fishing in America appeared in 1967 and went on to sell more than 4 million copies worldwide.

Through the late 1960s Brautigan published collections of poetry, another novel, In Watermelon Sugar and twenty-three short pieces in Rolling Stone, some of which brought him to my notice, and presumably prompted a spoken-word album for The Beatles' Zapple label that eventually appeared as Listening to Richard Brautigan on Harvest Records in 1970.

The 1970s saw attempts at several literary genres as he published five novels (though The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 dated back to the mid-1960s) and a collection of short stories, Revenge of the Lawn. Dismissed as a lightweight by literary critics and abandoned by readers, Brautigan's popularity waned though his work remained popular in Europe and Japan. 

Novels and novellas

A Confederate General From Big Sur (1964)

Trout Fishing in America (1967)

In Watermelon Sugar (1968)

The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 (1971)

The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western (1974)

Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery (1975)

Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel (1976)

Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942 (1977)

The Tokyo-Montana Express (1980)

So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away (1982)

An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey (1982, but first published in 1994)


The Return of the Rivers (1958)

The Galilee Hitch-Hiker (1958)

Lay the Marble Tea (1959)

The Octopus Frontier (1960)

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (1963)

Please Plant This Book (1968)

The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1969)

Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt (1970)

Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork (1971)

June 30, June 30 (1978)

The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings (1999)

Short story collection

Revenge of the Lawn (1971)

© Ian Hughes 2012