Richard Brautigan – the original blogger

May 10th, 2011 § 0 comments

With images of Japan becoming a tsunami of their own on TV screens, I’m reminded of Richard Brautigan. The hippie-era writer lived in Tokyo for a while, judging by his book The Tokyo-Montana Express, which is on a bookshelf here somewhere.

Or maybe he’s on my mind because he invented blogging even before the Internet existed.

If you read The Tokyo-Montana Express or Trout Fishing in America (which may have started the trend to give fiction books titles that sound like non-fiction), that’s what the “stories” look like. A few are real narratives with a beginning, middle and end, but often they’re just… well, blogs.

Many of them have lodged in my brain – Japanese porcelain figurines to be taken out of the cabinet from time to time to be dusted off and marvelled at. There’s the short piece titled “All the people that I didn’t meet and the places that I didn’t go”, describing a young girl looking at her palm and remarking that she has a short lifeline. All in the space of about six lines.

And, oh, those overwrought, curiously illogical similes – saying it’s as cold as a broken fridge lying open in the Antarctic!

Richard Brautigan wrote novels too, but, for me, the elements that are so startling and fresh and brilliant in the short pieces cause him to lose the plot in the longer narratives.

If only blogging had existed in his time, he wouldn’t have found it necessary to pretend that Trout Fishing in America is a “novel”. It isn’t. What’s inside are blogs too.

With blogs, Richard Brautigan would’ve found his natural form of expression.

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