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Not a novel--but rather 131 autobiographical short takes, about evenly divided in setting between Montana and Tokyo, as Brautigan himself is during the year. True, a good many of these prose poems are insufferably cloying, reductive little lemon drops in Brautigan's familiar virile-winsome style: an afternoon snowfall consisting of just two flakes; umbrellas (""I can't understand why they appear just before it starts to rain""); cats eating cantaloupe; a failed Chinese restaurant; photographing a collection of discarded Christmas trees; a fable of dancing chickadees. Yet what makes Brautigan so awful some of the time--the clipped vagrancy of his attention--often also becomes his greatest strength. There's a grand vignette, for instance, of the writer as bore: Brautigan telephones a friend to report, ""Well, I've just been fishing and writing. I've written seven little short stories this week""; and the friend answers, ""Nobody cares."" Or the lovely moment when Brautigan hears ""Chattanooga Caw-Caw"" (which he's sung snatches of for decades) over a Tokyo loudspeaker and pays attention to the lyrics for the first time--""as if the words were lumber and a house was being built out of them. When the song was finished, the house was built and then it was in my mind on a little side street near the river."" Interestingly, the most successful of these laconic notations generally involve Brautigan's confessions of feeling out-of-it now, and indeed these prose munchies--crunchy and wholesome as granola--do often seem dated, forever of the Sixties. Still: a few genuine delights amid the crackerjacks, and sheer pleasure for unquestioning, longtime Brautigan fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1980
Publisher: Delacorte