Sunday, 5 February 2012

Richard Brautigan's Sombrero Fallout

Sombrero Fallout is the first Richard Brautigam novel I have read as far as I can remember.

The story is two surreal stories in one.

The title story concerns a sombrero falling into town from the clear sky and how this minor event sparks a major riot which finally has to be put down by the military. The whole townsfolk takes leave of its senses. The sombrero keeps its cool; but only just.

The interwoven story is of a heartbroken American writer's love for a long haired Japanese woman who sleeps with a cat. Is love a form of insanity? That is the question.

The TLS blurb describes Sombrero Fallout as "playful and serious, hilarious and melancholy, profound and absurd..." so that saves me having to think of those words. I'd just like to add that it's delightful and entertaining.

Richard Brautigan dedicates Sombrero Fallout to Junichiro Tanizaki who wrote The Key and Diary of a Mad Old Man.

In his introduction to Sombrero Fallout Kevin Williamson refers to a BrautiganWorld where nothing is as it seems, where anything can happen, and nearly always does.

Williamson goes on: "Poetry had been boxed into a corner, had got lost in the fog, and was later found dead beside a bottle of Tennessee whiskey and a .44 calibre gun. Shot between the eyes."

Richard Brautigam lived from 1935 to 1984. He had nine volumes of poetry published. His last novel So the Wind Won't Blow it All Away appeared in 1982.


  1. Sounds an interesting book G. I found it food for thought as our next writers meeting asks for a
    fantasy story and that is really not up my street at all. I might just take a similar idea of something falling from the sky - so thanks for that.
    What a short life this author/poet had - always sad. Keep warm and do not do that run!!

  2. Been a fan of Brautigan for about twenty years. Picked up three novels in a charity shop in Saltcoats (left Trout Fishing in America because I didn’t like the title or the cover or something) and I’ve read everything I could lay my hands on ever since. I think The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 is my favourite by it’s a hard call. The first book I read was In Watermelon Sugar and it just blew me away.

  3. Pat, a good idea. Hope our inspiration pays off!

    Jim, Thanks and I'm looking forward to following you down the Brautigan path. I'll check your reviews as I go along. But not till after I've read each book first. So I will now see if you have reviewed Sombrero. It'll be interesting to compare my eventual list of favourites with yours.

  4. yes Gwilym I also was a brautigan fan when he started out (although I admit to loving anything surreal or dadist)

  5. I think the only post on Brautigan I’ve uploaded so far has been Richard Brautigan, my mum and I. I have written a review of So the Wind Won’t Blow it all Away but I’ve yet to post it. (On checking I find it’s been a year since I wrote it so I must find room for it.) His later works lack a little but he’s a writer like Woody Allen is a filmmaker. By that I mean that even a bad Woody Allen film is still a good film by anyone else’s standards and that’s how I feel about Brautigan; he’s never less than readable.

  6. Jim, I must now get 'So the wind won't blow it all away' asap. We have a fair selection at the public library. It could be there. I shall anyway reserve what I can on the net.

    John, you too? Wow, I'm in seriously good company.

  7. Thanks Jim, for your link to Brautigan in your Richard Brautigan my mum and I piece - link now in my A-Z Links sidebar under 'R'.

  8. Hi Jim, I'm back from my dash to the library with the following:

    in Watermelon Sugar,
    The Hawkline Monster,
    Trout Fishing in America.

    I'll read Watermelon first since it blew you away! I see what you mean about Trout Fishing - the cover is a kind of candyfloss puke colour - but there's a whole 2 page chapter about the cover so I won't spoil the show ;)


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