Saturday, July 07, 2001

It's been a while since I've shared with you what I'm reading. I just, moments ago, finished An Unfortunate Woman by Richard Brautigan. It's billed as a novel, but it's really more of a journal, taking shape around the suicide of one woman in Berkeley, and the impending death by cancer of another woman.

In the book, Brautigan calls the journey a calendar map, as he travels from his home in Montana to the Bay Area (where he stays in the house where the first woman hanged herself), Chicago, Alaska, Hawaii, Buffalo, and Toronto, then back to his ranch in Montana. Collected along the way are little insights into the people and experiences that make up the journey.

Sometimes seeming to be very little insights, they somehow add up to a larger whole, and a satisfying read. Still, I think you do have to be a Brautigan fan to truly appreciate what the book is. Another thing that it is, is a posthumous release. Although written in 1982, it was not released until 1994 in France (ten years after his death), and July of 2001 in the U.S. (seventeen years A.D.).

The theme of the book, revolving around an unexplained suicide, is made even more poignant by the fact that Brautigan himself committed suicide in 1984. As I understand the story, he was despondent about his career, and had been unable to find a publisher for his latest works (possibly "An Unfortunate Woman" included). His body was found (if my memory serves) by his agent, who was coming to tell him that he'd managed to get him a new book deal.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say "Brautigan" - click here and select any title that grabs your attention.

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