June 30th, June 30th
June 30, 2008 7:59 PM   Subscribe

30 years ago, Richard Brautigan's last collection of poems, June 30th, June 30th, was published.

June 30th is a haibun (a poetic travelog in the tradition of Basho's Narrow Road to the Interior) of his time in Japan, a place he frequented in the 70s after his poetry sadly fell out of favor. A number of excellent tribute pages exist, as well as several fond memoirs & collected essays, not to mention a few imaginary libraries based off of his novel The Abortion: An Historical Romance.

"The Hillary Express"

I just ordered my first meal
curry and rice
all by myself in a Japanese restaurant.
What a triumph!
I feel like an infant taking its
first faltering step.

Watch out Mount Everest!

May 16, 1976
posted by ikahime (24 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this ikahime. This is special. Another forgotten and brilliant man from the same milieu that produced the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others. Brautigan actually recorded a spoken- word album for the Beatles' short-lived Zapple label, but it was never released due to the Allen Klein debacle at the time.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:24 PM on June 30, 2008

Here is a Muxtape with Brautigan reading from Revenge of the Lawn and The Pill Verses the Springhill Mine Disaster.
posted by Sailormom at 10:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

I cannot quite remember how I first stumbled into his stuff. Was it finding out that a guy was changing his name to "Trout Fishing in America"? The band Machines of Loving Grace? The Hawkline Horror was one of the first things I reviewed, with the novel sensation of being something I enjoyed immensely, yet was also made uncomfortable by. I'd read all kinds of fiction, but here was something that wanted to make me uneasy. Not viscerally. He wanted to challenge the idea of a "good read" without a lot of Emperor's New Clothes bullhickey.

He changed my idea of fiction, not in subject matter or prose style, or in any direction I can point. The occasional lack of seriousness he displayed in it startled me and somehow made his work more meaningful. I'm sorry, this stuff makes me sound like a stoned hippie mangling Zen philosophy, which is why I'm more inclined to just shove his books into people's hands than talk about him.
posted by adipocere at 10:22 PM on June 30, 2008

Is this the whole book? How delightful!
posted by grobstein at 10:28 PM on June 30, 2008

I don't think its the whole book. According to this page Brautigan recorded thirty poems from The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, five stories from Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970, and selections from three novels: A Confederate General from Big Sur, Trout Fishing in America, and In Watermelon Sugar.
posted by Sailormom at 10:53 PM on June 30, 2008

I read and enjoyed Brautigan as a high-schooler back in the early/mid seventies. He spoke to me then, but I'm afraid I'd written him off years ago, just as the critics did. Perhaps it's time to take another look, now, at the man's writing. I like the freshness and innocence of these poems.

Thanks for the post, ikahime.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:54 AM on July 1, 2008

This is excellent. I'll have to tell my Brautigan-loving friend about this. Thank you.
posted by Minus215Cee at 3:33 AM on July 1, 2008

LOVE Brautigan. Would love to see The Hawkline Monster turned into a movie - apparently there were plans to do so at one point with Clint Eastwood as the star but Brautigan never finished the screenplay. Shame.
posted by gangster_computer_god at 4:18 AM on July 1, 2008

"Japan Minus Frogs"
For Guy de la Valdène

Looking casually
through my English–Japanese dictionary
I can't find the word frog.
    It's not there.
Does that mean that Japan has no frogs?

    June 4, 1976


I met Brautigan once. He managed to be skittish, twitchy and lethargic all at the same time. Most of what he said to me got buried in his chest. I don't think he felt very comfortable in Nebraska. But I sure glad he dropped by.
posted by RavinDave at 5:02 AM on July 1, 2008

I have a shameful notebook somewhere in storage full of attempts at Brautigans from my university years, having been turned on to the man by my boss back when I worked at a used book store (here, he said, handing me In Watermelon Sugar, you'll like this, it's weird). Every book by the man was a revelation; vision that dashed from unbearably twee to brilliantly skewed to wrenchlingly poignant and back again.

Revenge of the Lawn is still my gold standard of story collections.
posted by Shepherd at 5:50 AM on July 1, 2008

Brautigan was a large part of my life at one stage. I had many of his books but they sloughed off in moves from one place to another. I remember him with fondness. I haven't thought of him for many years, so thanks for the reminder ikahime.
posted by tellurian at 6:27 AM on July 1, 2008

Once a man handed me a book, already opened to the first page of a story called The Abortion. "Read this," he said. "I think you'll like it."

Immediately following The Abortion was another story, So the Wind Won't Blow it All Away. They took my breath away, and I couldn't believe that I had never heard of this author.

I married this man a year later.

Thanks for this, ikahime. Very cool.
posted by TrinaSelwyn at 6:37 AM on July 1, 2008

No mention of Brautigan on the blue should go without Jessamyn's readings of "Bareassed Breakfast" and "I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone" [txt], part of 30 Voicemails for Jason, one of Jason Kottke's web experimentations from back in the day when people still did that. Jessamyn's reading and the poems themselves made me do the then-excruciating search to figure out who the hell had written those and the years-long and equally excruciating task of seeking out-of-print editions to fill the collection...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:31 AM on July 1, 2008

That [sounds] so cool.
Shame I can't hear any of it (using VLC):

main: no suitable decoder module for fourcc `sipr'.

.rm files are usually not a problem.
posted by tellurian at 10:00 AM on July 1, 2008

That raises an interesting notion. For some reason I can't even articulate, I had always taken it as a given that Brautigan was meant to be read on the page. It never even occurred to me that people would recite his stuff. I guess I always felt like I was reading his private journal -- and people don't generally read diaries aloud.

Hell, if I formatted that right, it'd almost make a respectable Brautigram. ;)
posted by RavinDave at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2008

Whenever I attend a meeting, I have a small impulse to start proceedings by jumping onto the table and screaming, "Bowling trophy thieves die!" It's a phrase that doesn't get enough use nowadays.

I once gave Revenge of the Lawn to a young lady I know. She took it to school with her and one of her teachers wouldn't let her read it during study hall. Turns out the girl on the cover was his ex-girlfriend, stolen away by one R. Brautigan.

I think the most profound entry in June 30, June 30 is Cobalt Necessity:
"It's just one of those things.
When you need cobalt nothing else will suffice."

What a perfect illustration -- there are some things you can't substitute for and you'd better plan for it.
posted by joaquim at 10:43 AM on July 1, 2008

Yes, thanks for this.
Never read him, sorta half-assily intended to-so thanks.

See, the internet isn't that bad.
posted by PHINC at 12:13 PM on July 1, 2008

I love the "look inside" feature for "Revenge of the lawn, ..."
Give it a look. I think you'll find that Brautigan is so much more straightforward a writer than you might recall. It's illustrated, too:



Looks like a bit of watermelon sugar got into the works over at Amazon.
posted by Pliskie at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2008

I cannot quite remember how I first stumbled into his stuff.

I remember exactly how I stumbled onto his stuff -- I was in a tacky little late 70s relationship with a tacky little late 70s alcoholic named Holly, and in the disorderly piles of 'stuff' in her tacky little late 70s apartment was a copy of A Confederate General From Big Sur. I was hooked, immediately, from page 1; no one can turn a sparser phrase than Brautigan, no one can turn one better, no one can freight five words with so much meaning and humor.

I loved his writing. And love it still.

And I loved most all of it, read him as I found his books through his years -- this was before the internet, and many of his books were then out of print, I found them mostly in used book stores. And if you haven't read 'An Unfortunate Woman', and/or if you hear Brautigans name and think "Oh, yeah, he was that 60s guy, right?" than you're doing yourself a disservice, and you're missing some really great writing -- 'An Unfortunate Woman' actually more a journal than a novel, the opportunity to read his thoughts, in his words, and walk with him a few months in the year prior to his suicide, and in all the sadnesses and despairs and pain of depression and alcoholism and loss he still wrote poetically, beautifully, howlingly funny to boot. Many reviewers have called it his suicide note, and maybe it is, but I'd rather read his suicide note than their best book, I'd rather read his grocery list than their best review.

Thanx for the post.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:47 PM on July 1, 2008

I'm so glad to find all the Brautigan love here. I have adored him since I was a kid, and have run across so many people who roll their eyes and act as if Brautigan were merely some kind of hippie Rod McKuen.

Makes me want to dig out all my Brautigans and read them again.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:08 PM on July 1, 2008

I don't like Brautigan's stuff at all, but once had lunch with Phillipe Djian, (Betty Blue), who told me Brautigan was by far his biggest influence.

I don't like Djian's stuff either, but he seemed a decent enough guy. As far as it went.
posted by Wolof at 6:02 AM on July 3, 2008

"Everything Includes Us"

The thought of her hands
    touching his hair
makes me want to vomit.

posted by RavinDave at 11:18 AM on July 3, 2008

The thought of her hands
touching his hair
makes me want to vomit.

That's SO Elvis Costello.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:34 AM on July 4, 2008

Somebody once read Sombrero Fallout aloud to me, in installments, over the phone. One, if not several, oceans separated us. Reader, I married him.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:55 AM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

« Older "Of course, neither Simon nor Garfunkle has been...   |   The record shows I took the blows -- And did it... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments