26 December 2007

Richard Brautigan, The Abortion, 1971

Brautigan’s idea of a San Francisco library of unpublished (and unpublishable) books is first rate, and the sense of unreality is heightened when the reclusive librarian acquires, as a girlfriend, Brautigan’s notion of the most beautiful woman in the world. They later require a trip to Tijuana for an abortion and their return also means coming back to a more mundane reality; freed, as it were, from Brautigan’s own imagination. Putting aside his take on male inadequacies and his shallow view on women, creatively speaking The Abortion starts brilliantly but completely runs out of steam half way through, though this feels like a deliberate way of getting his free-wheeling characters to grow up and emerge from the enduring fantasies of teenage years, and enter the real world. Two excellent things have come out of this book: the ‘Brautigan Library’ now actually exists, currently housed in the San Francisco Public Library; and Brautigan’s very quotable observation that “If you get hung up on everybody else’s hang-ups, then the whole world’s going to be nothing more than one huge gallows.”  PY


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